Monday, May 11, 2009

NRA Foundation Helps Fund New Pellet Gun Range

Anokijig's Pellet Gun Range has a new home for 2009, just north of Foxwell Lodge (The Arts & Crafts Building). The Pellet Gun Range has been one of our most popular program areas, since it was introduced several years ago, but finding a good home for it at Anokijig has been a challenge.

Ideally, we'd like to have the Pellet Gun Range in a central location, but at the same time, we need to make sure this location is absolutely safe for everyone involved. That meant we needed to find an area of Anokijig that didn't have any foot traffic (horse or human) anywhere behind the range. The first location we selected was at the bottom of the hill, along the lake, at the South end of the Parade Grounds. In addition to the Kevlar backstop, this area also had the safety of a hillside location that wasn't easily accessible to campers, in case errant shots missed their targets alltogether.

While this served location served us well in the initial years, we wanted a location that afforded us the opportunity to construct a more permanent facility. We're very familiar with the Wisconsin DNR's restrictions on building anything near bodies of water. If you can even see the blue stuff from your building site, you need to get ready to jump through hoops, just to stick a shovel in the ground.

While we appreciate how this oversight has limited development on and around Little Eklhart Lake, we wanted to move the Pellet Gun Range to a location that we hoped would allow us to eventually build some permanent structures. Last Fall, we met with a field representative and range consultant from the NRA at Anokijig. We showed them our current range and asked them for assistance in identifying a new, safer range location.

After reviewing our current location and alternative sites, the NRA Foundation gave us recommendations and encouraged us to apply for a funding grant from the NRA Foundation. We're happy to report that our request for partial funding from the NRA Foundation was granted! This initial funding allowed us to move the range to it's new location, while adding some additional safety features, including permanent barriers running the length of both sides of the range. Our new location also makes it easier to collect spent pellets after they are shot, which makes this range more environmentally-friendly.

Future plans call for permanent benches on concrete pads in the firing area and other upgrades to further enhance the experience for campers. We're excited about our new range and we've already been receiving a lot of positive feedback from our weekend campers on our new site.
This new range would not have been possible without the generous funding and guidance of the NRA Foundation and we appreciate their assistance very much. They understand that our pellet gun range is more than just a fun activity. It helps us teach our campers important lessons in safety, respect and responsibility.
We would also like to extend a special thanks to our tireless crew of volunteers, who are the lifeblood of everything we do at Anokijig. Claude Gonzalez, Chris Regis and several other volunteers put in a lot of hours to make this new range a reality for us. If you would like to help us with future improvements at the Pellet Gun Range, please contact our Executive Director, Jim Scherer at 920-893-0782.

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