In July of 2009, El Paso County’s only publicly accessible shooting range closed down. On Jan. 23 of this year, the County, in a partnership with Fort Carson, opened a new shooting range.
The new range, the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex, is designed to accommodate not only the public but also police officers and military personnel. The range was opened with a ribbon “shooting” ceremony attended by military and county leaders and other officials.
Steave Barness, a representative of Fort Carson’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) organization, said in a speech at the ceremony that the old range’s closure “was seen by some as a blessing. But for many, many others it left an incredible void in our community.”
In the same ceremony, Amy Lathen, the vice chair of the El Paso County Commission, described the range as the first instance of the County fulfilling its “responsibilities…to provide range services for our Sheriff’s Office.”
Lathen also said, “We are about to hear what I consider to be sounds of freedom: shots fired from free people. Free people exercising their right to bear arms here in this great nation and out beloved El Paso County.” She added, “It is a precious right that I know I and many others truly understand and embrace and will fight for as long as we live.”
After the old range’s 2009 closure, the County reported increases in unregulated, prohibited shooting, including forest areas. There were multiple reports of trees being shot apart because of the lack of an official range.
The new complex is the largest in Colorado—covering more than 400 acres on Fort Carson’s land—and contains seven individual ranges.
The Complex’s opening comes on the heels of a push by some members of Congress and the White House to pass new gun control measures. Days before the opening, President Obama signed 23 executive orders relating to gun violence. Several congressional committees have also held hearings on the subject.
One of the range’s goals is accessibility. Both the County Sheriff’s Office and Dennis Hisey, chair of the County Commission, said that the range would be both cheaper and better in terms of scheduling than its predecessor. General access is $10 with discounts for active and retired military, those who work at the U.S. Department of Defense, and children ages 6-12.
Proceeds from the Complex will fund the FMWR. The county also created a nonprofit, the Soldier’s Friend Foundation, to raise money to continue to work on the Complex.