Junk mars Summit shooting range
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY ” When Spencer Thomas and Hugh Fairfield-Smith finally had enough of the ongoing neglect at Summit County’s public shooting range, the place was in disarray.
The targets were ruined, thousands of empty casings and shotgun shells littered the ground and old appliances and furniture, engine parts, even a propane tank, peppered with bullet holes were strewn about at the facility near the landfill.
“It’s a disgrace to gun owners. That gives gun owners a terrible, terrible name when there’s all that kind of stuff up there,” Thomas, 18, said.
Afraid the public range where the two lifelong locals practically grew up was going to be shut down, they took matters into their own hands.
Earlier this month, the pair spent hours picking up other people’s trash and built new targets, thanks to $1,000 worth of wood donated from the Breckenridge Building Center.
Even though the range is spotless now the self-policing policy may have to be reconsidered, Summit County Sheriff John Minor said.
“This is the public’s property courtesy of the county commissioners. If people don’t start taking care of it, we’ll probably have to think about some different rules,” Minor said.
One person brought a big-screen TV up to the range and plugged it into a generator so he could shoot it while it was powered on, Minor said.
Summit County Commissioner Tom Long said the problem is a lack of management at the range, but discussions about how to handle the issue are just beginning.
“It has to remain there at least in my mind because we have taken people off of probably six or eight different spots in this county where they used to shoot and they’ve been condensed into that,” Long said.
The shooting range was set up about 17 years ago. The Sheriff’s Office’s shooting range is next door. The sheriff’s range, where local police officers hone their marksmanship, is paved, fenced and taken care of by those who use it, Minor said.
The public range is supposed to operate similarly, but some people are abusing the privilege, Fairfield-Smith said.
“I think it’s mostly people that didn’t grow up shooting and don’t really know the responsibilities of it. They just go out there and shoot stuff instead of target practice and that’s what it’s for ” target practice,” Fairfield-Smith said.
Recently, a Dumpster was placed at the range, but it was vandalized.
Thomas, meanwhile, is raising money to make improvements at the range. So far, he’s collected about $350 from people who use the range and don’t want to see it closed, he said.