Shooting complex opens to community
January 24, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- With the crackle of gunfire and disintegrating red ribbons, the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex opened Wednesday as officials from Fort Carson and the Pikes Peak community came together to celebrate.
"This is an incredible day," said Amy Lathen, El Paso County Commissioner and one of five guest speakers at the opening. "For me, these are the sounds of freedom."
Lathen was joined by other community and Fort Carson officials, including Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson; Dan Prenzlow, Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife; Terry Maketa, El Paso County Sheriff; and El Paso County Commissioner Board Chair Dennis Hisey.
"Our hope is that this complex will provide Soldiers and Family members an opportunity to enjoy shooting together as well as the community," Anderson said. "While the range is on Fort Carson land, it will be open to the community."
Steave Barness, recreation division chief for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said Wednesday's opening comes after more than three years of planning, negotiating and partnering with local governments and community groups.
"About three and a half years ago we met with the county, both of us deciding that we needed a shooting range," he said. "The county then came on board and said if you can help us with the land, we can help you with the construction of the range."
Barness said no tax dollars were used in the building of the facility, with funding coming from grants and donations from government agencies and community partners. All profits from the range will support DFMWR programs.
In addition to its condition that the shooting complex be open to the public, county officials negotiated for a dedicated place to train the deputies with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and Colorado Springs Police Department, he said.
"The real need for this started from an old range called the Rampart Range shooting area north of town. There was a death -- an accidental shooting -- and that closed the range," he said. "At that point, the community really had no place to go."
Meanwhile, Maketa said, training ranges for deputies became crowded, making scheduling trainings difficult.
To meet the needs of the sheriff's department as well as the community, officials spent months conducting environmental assessments, resolutions, meetings with lawyers and seeking the approval from Secretary of the Army John McHugh.
"After all of that, we have arrived here," Barness said.
"This range is going to be a tremendous asset," said Maketa. "It's a huge step not only for the community, but for law enforcement. … Our tactical folks are no longer limited to 100 yards and this eliminates the need to go up into the mountains (to train)."
Officials from both Fort Carson and El Paso County applauded the efforts of those that worked to gain the approval for and build the complex.
"It's a great partnership between Fort Carson and El Paso County," said Josh Gwinn, director, DFMWR. "This is something that neither one of us could have done on our own."