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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Lonnie Robinson, volunteer educator with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, teaches shotgun skills to Bentonville High School students last year at a private trap-shooting range.

Northwest Arkansas' hunters, anglers and anyone interested in the outdoors will have the attention of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at a town hall meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. April 23 at the Jones Center for Families in Springdale.

It will be great to hear what's on people's minds. There will be a sign-up sheet at the door for anyone interested in querying the commissioners. The agency promises some short presentations before taking questions.

I'm going just to listen, but if I asked a question it would be this: When will we get a top-notch state Game and Fish Commission public shooting range in Northwest Arkansas?

A range for shotgun, rifle and pistol is sorely needed. There is major concern among conservation agencies nationwide about the decline in hunter numbers and falling revenue from sagging license sales. A safe place to shoot that is convenient for most Northwest Arkansans residents is a step in the right direction.

Such a range could get more people interested in shooting and hunting, improve hunting safety and sharpen skills of the hunters we already have. How can people get familiar and accurate with their firearms if there's nowhere to practice?

Recruiting younger hunters could be easier if adults had a convenient and safe public range to take kids for some fun target shooting.

We're lacking in places to shoot here in Northwest Arkansas City, what one might call the metropolitan area we have. There's a fine range at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, but it's for rifles only. Some people do shoot pistols there. Still, the drive to the range in eastern Benton County is a haul for someone in, say, Siloam Springs.

Other outdoor shooting ranges are in the area, but they're private and open only to members. A top-flight sporting clays range is in business and open to shotgun shooters for a reasonable fee.

The Game and Fish Camp Robinson Firing Range at Mayflower, near Little Rock, is an ideal model for the agency to follow in building a range here. The range offers a 50-yard pistol range, 200-yard rifle range, plus skeet, trap and 3-D archery ranges. It's open Wednesdays through Sundays.

Cost to shoot is $3 per person for the pistol and rifle ranges and $4 per 25-shot round for skeet and trap. Use of the 3-D archery range is free. I'll wager most shooters in our neck of the woods would gladly pay a similar cost to shoot at a nice range here.

The Highlands Gun Range in Bella Vista is another model for a Game and Fish shooting range in Northwest Arkansas. It's open to members of the Bella Vista Property Owners Association and their guests except during special events.

It's another first-class range with pistol, rifle, skeet and trap ranges. Shooters pay a fee.

Hats off to Game and Fish for building a nature center in Springdale. A quality shooting range is something the agency should consider down the road. With half a million people living here, we certainly have the population to support it.

Sports on 04/16/2019

Print Headline: Shooting range here worth considering

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