Land purchased for shooting sports complex

Published 4:18 pm Friday, June 22, 2018

The Development Authority of Bainbridge and Decatur County voted to approve the purchase of 425 acres of land on Tuesday, 100 acres of which will be used for the development of a public shooting sports complex.

The facility will offer ranges for pistols, shotguns, rifles and archery, as well as a sporting clay course, a pro shop and indoor classrooms.

The Development Authority and Decatur County had been in talks with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to put a shooting sports complex at Silver Lake, but concerns were raised regarding the contamination of water there with particles of lead from the firearms. DNR approved the current property, located just north of the City of Bainbridge limits and south of the Bikefest grounds off Pond Town Road.

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The property will be purchased for $2,000 an acre.

To help mitigate the costs of the property and develop the shooting sports complex, the Development Authority applied for and received a grant from the One Georgia Authority of $500,000.

The first class facility will be developed by Bainbridge, Decatur County and Georgia DNR. Upon completion, it will be owned and operated by Georgia DNR and cooperatively managed with local partners.

“I think in our part of the state, this is not offered close to us,” said Alan Thomas, Decatur County Administrator. “I think it is definitely a diamond in the rough.”

There are currently eight Georgia staffed shooting ranges in the state, with the closest one to Bainbridge being in Dougherty County.

“What we are proposing is much nicer than anything else that the state runs currently,” said Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby.

The proposal includes multiple outdoor facilities, including six different ranges.

Range one would be used for rifles and would feature 54 positions with distances of 200 to 600 yards. Range two would be a 100-yard range with 35 positions, and range three would be a 50-yard pistol range with 25 positions. All three of these ranges would feature electronic scoring.

Range four is planned as a 50-foot multi-purpose range, range five would be a trap field with five stands and range six would be a sporting clays course with 15 stations around a one-mile loop.

Three different archery ranges would also be available, including a fixed distance practice range, an archery field range with bullseye targets and an archery animal range with animal silhouettes at fixed distances.

Indoor facilities on the proposal includes a pro shop that would offer a check-in, a pay station, ammunition, arrows and support supplies, as well as classrooms for a wide variety of educational purposes.

Development Authority Executive Director Rick McCaskill believes the other 350 acres of purchased property can be used for industrial development.

“It would be good industrial property,” said McCaskill. “Not everybody is going to want to locate by a shooting facility, but there are a lot of industries that it wouldn’t bother them a bit.”

The next step for the Development Authority and Georgia DNR is locating the ideal spot for the facility and conducting noise studies, wetlands identification, lead spray analysis and other tests.

Edit 7:46 p.m.: Cost per acre added.