Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shooting range noise, nuisance become targets

By Meg Hibbert

CRAIG COUNTY – A nearby resident’s complaint to a Craig County Board of Supervisors’ member about noise from a shooting range on National Forest land has riled up local gun enthusiasts.

But Craig County leaders say they are not asking to have the National Forest Service close the Potts Slope Shooting Range, built in 1994. They want to know what the Forest Service could do to make the range a better neighbor, Supervisor Martha Murphy said this week.

The Potts Mountain Shooting Range has 10 lanes for pistols/rifles. It is located on National Forest property about 1/2 mile off Rt. 311. Forest Service photo

Eastern Divide District Ranger Cindy Schiffer is scheduled to be at the supervisors’ meeting which starts at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 7, to explain how the range operates and what possibly could be done to buffer the noise.

Meanwhile, local gun enthusiasts are up in arms about what they perceive as a threat to Second Amendment rights, and some plan to be at Thursday’s meeting to speak during the “Hear the Public” portion of the meeting.

Craig County Republican Party Chairman Jordan Labiosa started a running dialog on his Facebook page Feb. 1 when he posted a section of minutes from the January supervisors’ meeting. On Feb. 4, Labiosa called on people to “Stand up with the Craig County GOP in opposition to shutting down the Gun Range!”

In a telephone interview that same day, Labiosa, who is 19, said, “If you live in Craig County and the sound of guns is annoying to you, you should probably leave Craig County.”

Monday night, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League sent a message to members asking them to send thousands of emails to Craig supervisors to oppose closing the range, and asked people to “pack the audience with gun owners.”

The shooting range came up at the January supervisors’ meeting, when Simmonsville District Supervisor Murphy brought up concerns she’d heard from someone who lives in the Potts Mountain District near the range off Rt. 311, she said. The resident said the noise from the range went on at all hours, 24 hours a day, she said, and was disturbing neighbors with noise and trash.

In a telephone interview on Feb. 4, though, Schiffer said the range is supposed to be closed from dusk until dawn, and is signed that way, “with periodic patrolling.” No one has contacted her in her Blacksburg office about noise at night from the Potts Mountain site, she said.

“Most of the feedback we get from the range is positive. They appreciate having a range without having to go to a private gun range to go shoot.”

According to board minutes from the January meeting, supervisors asked Craig County Sheriff Clifford Davidson about the gun range noise – which the sheriff said he said he can hear from his home on John’s Creek – and that he believes people that use the range are mostly from outside Craig. Supervisors decided to ask Ranger Schiffer to attend this week’s meeting.

Republican Party Chairman Labiosa said the party’s vice chairman, Jesse Spence, routinely attends supervisors’ meetings. See Labiosa’s letter to the editor in this week’s Feb. 6 issue of The New Castle Record.

Carl Bailey, the supervisor who represents the Potts Mountain District, said in a phone interview on Feb. 4 he has not had any residents contact him about noise at the gun range.

And he has no intentions of asking the National Forest to close the range, he said.

“Lord, no. I’m a very avid hunter. I appreciate having the shooting range being as close to me as it is. Not everybody has that availability.” Bailey added he believes “maybe the Forest Service should have some other shooting ranges put up in the county so they wouldn’t have to go so far to get to one.”

He added, “Maybe Frances Hall Road (also in National Forest land area) might be a place where they could come out of Giles County.

Bailey said he has not heard any shooting from the range after dark. “It is during daylight hours,” he said.

In the telephone interview with The New Castle Record Monday, Supervisor Murphy said she is not asking for the range to be closed down, “but if the hours could be limited, if that is the main objection from the folks that can hear the noise.”

Ranger Schiffer said Monday, “Shooting ranges provide a safe, controlled environment for target practice and I have no plans to close the range. I’m attending the meeting at the board’s request and am happy to discuss our management intent and practices with all concerned.”

She added, “Sound carries and there is more noise when the leaves are off the trees and there is cold air. There is not a whole lot we can do about it because of the terrain, but we can look at planting some conifers,” Schiffer said.

She said she has not had any complaints about the Potts Mountain range. “Sometimes we get calls about the Blacksburg Shooting Range in Montgomery County near Pandapas Pond. The shooting range is across Rt. 460 and that’s the noise they’re hearing.

“Once people understand National Forests are open to hunting, they understand why we would provide that.

Especially now, people have heightened awareness of gun rights,” said Schiffer, who has been the ranger for the Eastern Divide Ranger District since 2001. Her office and her home are in Blacksburg.

Craig County Administrator Richard Flora on Monday said, “I think there is a misconception. The word is out there that the county wants to close the shooting range down and that’s not correct. What supervisors are asking is if there is anything that could be done to help the noise,” Flora said. “No one wants to close it down.”

Murphy said she believes “We asked Craig County Sheriff Clifford Davidson to patrol a little more often, and verify for us if it is a nuisance or if it is under control. It is beneficial to have a shooting range set up in the county. I’m sure hunters are using it in a manner it is designed for,” she said. “But the nuisance is something to pay attention to. Maybe it’s being used for some other purposes that it is not intended for. We’ll wait and hear from the sheriff’s office after some time.”

For a summary of the Feb. 7 Craig County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, read the Feb. 13 issue of The New Castle Record.


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8 Responses to “Shooting range noise, nuisance become targets”

  1. Steve Wirt

    I go to that range quite regularly. I enjoy it, it’s a SAFE Place to Target Practice. It’s been there for MANY Years. I live in Bedford County, and we don’t have a Range like that. I donate money in the box. I have been there with Off Duty Law Enforcement Officers, Military , Active & Non Active Duty. Families of People enjoying it.
    One thing I noticed, you have to be REALLY close to hear gunfire. Like about 50 yards close. I spend money in Craig County every time I go to the Range at Potts.
    Thank God for Potts. And the People in the County are the Nicest you’ll ever meet!

  2. Robert May

    Thank goodness that cool heads prevailed and the range is still open to the public!

  3. PeopleAre WEIRD

    Hey – I’m all for allowing this disgruntled resident some peace and quiet…. since he/she is the only complaintant, he/she should share in the expense of dallying to a SINGLE individual with an issue…. I can assure you, if involved anything OTHER than a firearm? This wouldn’t even be in the news.

  4. Harry Smith

    I am a former resident who still uses the range.What I think is the real problem with this range is the lack of respect for having this available to us.We need to do something about the amount of trash and the damage that is done to the area.Shooting up the benches and railings, bathroom etc.I don’t want to pick up your trash before I enjoy the range.I wish Clifford could catch you in the act of shooting up the place and Ban you and your friends from there forever.

  5. Sanuk

    I love how this “reporter” managed to turn this issue into a he said/she said story instead of taking 10 minutes to look at the minutes of the meeting in question, in which at least one person (you can find the name yourself) VERY CLEARLY expresses a desire to close the range, with very little protest from anyone else.

    Ms. Hibbert, you can and should do better than this. Truth to power, etc. etc.

  6. Foreigner in Fincastle

    It is both perplexing and terribly sad how America has evolved. Such a wonderful country that has contributed much good to our world, stricken by the narcissist, anti-social stain epitomised by the NRA and its supporters.
    I know of no other developed nation where folks are so mistrustful of their own government they deem it necessary to arm it’s citizenry to overthrow it.
    I feel deeply for my US counterparts who are immersed in this paranoia. I’m sure they are well sick of the embarrassment they endure abroad, as much as Overseaslanders pine to feel proud in your company.
    Please, oh please. Drop the gun, stop abandoning your poor, and start caring about your international reputation. All will be forgiven and everyone will prosper.
    PS Oh yes, close the rifle range.

  7. Harry Smith

    To Fincastle: Stay there.I am sure if you ask the other nations citizens they would have fought harder to keep there arms instead of letting their govt. take them ,now that they don’t have them.If you could ask the jewish ,chinese,korean and others that were murdered by their govt. after they were told they would not need them.I am sure they would tell you they would have rather fought and died instead of standing in front of a pit and murdered.If we didn’t send billions of dollars overseas we could take care of everyone in the US.If you can’t see the tyranical US Govt. in front of you,I feel sorry for you.I see it and so do many,many others.The range will stay.You can stay in fincastle with your head in the sand.

  8. Ol' Reb

    Foreigner in Fincastle, might I suggest you return to whatever homeland you came from? Since America is such a terrible place because we have the Second Amendment, and groups like the National Rifle Association defending that right from Disneyland mentalities such as yours, why not do us ALL a favor and leave this dreadful place, and return to your native land of unicorns and rainbows, where there is no “paranoia,” because the government is there to protect you and care for you. Kumbayah.


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