Gypsum gun range is getting too busy to meet growing demand
Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club gets town's approval to find a pro shop operator for the Gypsum Shooting Sports Park
GYPSUM — The Gypsum Shooting Sports Park is getting too popular for its present operations structure but not busy enough to warrant hiring full-time staff.
To address that dilemma, board members of the Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club have come up with a plan to partner with a commercial enterprise to provide coverage at the site.
Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club President Darryl Lundholm presented the gun club proposal to members of the Gypsum Town Council this week. Lundholm noted that according to the shooting sports park by-laws, the town must approve any expansion at the site.
Lundholm reported that gun range membership has grown between 11% and 13% annually during the last five years with non-member visits growing between 12% and 15% annually during the same period.
“The range is a busy place and becoming more so. There is a lot of work to keep this place running and the Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club board members are all volunteers and have full-time jobs,” Lundholm noted.
“We are at a tipping point, almost busy to a point where a full- or part-time employee is required. Almost, but not quite, ” he added.
For example, Lundholm noted that three bachelor party shotgun events were held at the park last summer but the club directors quickly learned that the site wasn’t set up to host such events.
“It was more than what we could handle. It was a lot of work for little return and I had to clean all the shotguns,” Lundholm ruefully noted.
He added that since he became club president one year ago, he has fielded at least one phone call daily regarding gun range questions.
“The inquiries ranged from instruction available, ammunition and targets, trap shoot at any time, sporting clays and, most quantifiably, firearms rental,” Lundholm said.
To meet the facility’s burgeoning need, the gun club asked permission to request proposals for a gun club pro shop operator. Gypsum Town Council/Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club board member Chris Huffman noted the RFP will seek an operator interested in doing retail sales at the site and fulfilling some of the on-site responsibilities. But Huffman stressed no firearms would be sold at the shooting sports park.
Lundholm said board members envision a self-contained unit, secured with locks and alarms, functioning as the pro shop.
“An employee at this satellite location would dispense ammunition, eye and ear protection, targets, cleaning kits, holsters, magazines and technical advice. We could also cater to the hunters more efficiently,” he noted.
Lundholm said the gun club board further envisions a set-up where trained and licensed employees would assist people with firearms rentals. The employees would provide mandatory operations and safety training during the rental process.
After hearing the presentation, the Gypsum Town Council members told the gun club members they could move ahead with their proposal, but noted the town wants to be involved with the plan as it evolves.
“It seems to me it would be good for the town to look at the contract before it is signed,” said town council member Tom Edwards. “I would just like to make sure that we think it is safe.”
Members also want to make sure the arrangement is fair.
“We just want to make sure we aren’t subsidizing a private business,” said town council member Chris Estes.
Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann noted that the operation would likely resemble the town’s arrangement with the Creekside Grill, where a private restaurant operates at the town’s Gypsum Creek Golf Course.
Reitmann added the town wants to ensure a fair and open RFP selection process.
“It’s pretty important that there not be any firearms sales on-site, and there won’t be under this proposal,” Rietmann added.
With the town’s agreement, the gun club will proceed with the RFP advertising.
Wolves were a problem for ranchers when Kip Gates’ great-great-grandfather homesteaded in the area. He doesn’t want the problem to return.