The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Growing up in rural Missouri we really didn't think about “a place to shoot our guns.” Maybe we just walked from the house and shot our .22's and later our muzzleloaders behind the pond. Sometimes we'd go to an old bridge where trash was dumped by the forefathers of the same folks who just chuck it out the window today, and shoot old cans and bottles. If we had lots of ammo, we might go to the city dump and shoot rats. The point is, it wasn't hard to find a place to shoot in the 60s. It's a little tougher now days. One of the obstacles that keep new people from getting started with hunting is not having a place to shoot.
Missouri is fortunate that part of the Design for Conservation plan years ago, included adding gun and archery ranges where people could go to safely shoot their firearms.
The May issue of the Missouri Conservationist has a short update in its Nature Lab column about a how the Conservation Department uses surveys to determine how Missouri's 70 shooting ranges are used. One survey that helped MDC learn more and do more occurred between 2013 and 2015. This survey focused on the “unmanned” shooting ranges.
Some of their findings included:
· Over 89% of Missourians live within 30 minutes of a shooting range (of any ownership)
· About 51% live within 30 minutes of a MDC shooting range
· Area managers reported three common rule violations: littering, improper firearm use, and vandalism
· An estimated 299,810 visitors used the study’s 39 unstaffed firearms ranges
· Missourians made up 95% of the visitors
· MDC’s unstaffed ranges provided users over $1.8 million in recreation value
· The estimated economic impact on Missouri’s economy is $7.3 million
Plinking rats and cans growing up in Caldwell County, we didn't know how good we had it.