RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As competitors take aim at the center circle at the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center, the gun range’s safety officer is focused on its future.
The Bullseye Precision League held its final pistol competition Monday night, as the range’s future remains uncertain.
“It is bittersweet. It’s an exciting match because it’s the championship,” said range safety officer Mark Trowell. “It’s our last one and where do we go from here? It’s a big question mark.”
The Wake County Board of Commissioners announced Monday they were working toward a deal with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission that could keep the range open to the public.
“I’m sort of a glass is half full,” said Bullseye League member Mark Valletta. “There’s a lot to be decided, but it looks like this is going to be a public facility for a long time.”
Last month Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker ended the contract with the company that manages the public part of the shooting range.
A news release from the sheriff’s office stated the decision was based on “lack of profitability and a review that fees and funds collected by RSM were not accounted for accurately.”
“To the responsible gun owners who use the facility, I understand your concern,” Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said. “This decision was not made in haste. We will continue to review how to use this training center that works in the best interest of all citizens, while saving taxpayer money. Unfortunately, the current agreement only met the needs of a few.”
Valletta spoke about the range’s profitability.
“When the sheriff can say ‘this is what you charge for admission, you can’t advertise, you can’t make a profit because you’re a county agency,’ it doesn’t sound like financial profitability was high on the list,” said Valletta.
Valletta started a petition that garnered more than 8,000 signatures in support of keeping the range open to the public.
He and Trowell said it’s one of the only 100-yard indoor ranges in the state, and offers courses for all skill levels at a low cost, something Trowell hopes whoever takes over will continue to do.
“Right now we don’t know what it’s going to look like. Sounds like there will be access to the public, but we don’t know what the hours will be or what the programs will be run here,” he said.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners still has to approve the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission as the operator of the range.
If that approval is given the range could reopen to the public within 60 days.
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