A new firing range is coming to Houston County. County Chairman Tommy Stalnaker says the pistol and rifle range will hopefully make it a safer community for everyone.
Right now, the Houston County Sheriff's Office has to use the Warner Robins or Perry Police gun ranges to train and certify deputies.
But with 157 armed deputies, Captain Mike Stokes says it was becoming difficult to schedule.
“We have to qualify twice a year, so trying to find range space and range time to get them qualified has always been a problem,” Stokes said.
Stokes also says that new guidelines are being put in place to qualify for rifles and shotguns, if deputies carry them on the job.
County Chairman Tommy Stalnaker says the Sheriff's Office has been asking for their own range for more than a decade.
But, six months ago the project really picked up steam.
“It is a very vulnerable situation for those people that wear blue, law enforcement, in this day and time. And I think the more training they get whether it be classroom or weapons training or whatever, the better off they're going to be able to protect the citizens as well as themselves,” Stalnaker said in his office.
The Chairman says the project will cost $300,000 and will be located on nine acres the County owns at the landfill.
Work has started on clearing the land and building the range. The County also wants to build a metal structure for classrooms and simulators.
The current construction contract will cover the land grading, berm building, and paving of the shooting areas.
The range will be surrounded by wooded areas and deputies will shoot towards Big Indian Creek to try and reduce noise.
The range will have evening lights so it can be used 24-7 and Captain Stokes says having their own dedicated training spot is a help to public safety.
“Every round that comes out of that weapon? We're responsible for. So, when we're forced to use deadly force, we want to use the minimum amount that we have to to stop the threat and we want those rounds to go where we intend for them to go,” Stokes said.
It will have a 50-yard area for pistol shooting and a 100-yard area for rifles. There is also a way they can stretch the area to practice and train with sniper equipment.
The County expects to have the range itself done in January of 2018. Chairman Stalnaker says the entire project, including the building, is supposed to be complete by the summer.
Eventually, Captain Stokes says the plan is to have self-defense and training classes for the public at that building.