MADISON -- Thanks to a pilot project agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Dane County Sheriff's Office, the public will have weekend access to the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center Range near Waunakee on weekends this fall for a $10 fee.
This trial run is an expansion of the current public access arrangement, which allows the public to sight-in firearms for the two weeks prior to the 9-day gun-deer season.
DNR Hunting and Shooting Sports Coordinator Keith Warnke and Sergeant Dave Ritter of the Dane County Sheriff's Department called the market test good news for area hunters and shooters looking for a safe, convenient facility to prepare for the hunting seasons or simply to enjoy the sport.
"Partnering with Dane County to increase access to the range in this case is more effective than trying to build a new range," Warnke said. "However, the DNR and the Dane County Sheriff's office will evaluate the effectiveness of this pilot and decide whether it will be continued."
Ritter expects a positive response. "We believe that there will be strong attendance throughout the expanded period the range is open to the public."
Funding for this project comes from shooters and hunters through the Pittman-Robertson (PR) Wildlife Restoration grant program. The grant revenues are taxes paid by shooters and hunters on ammunition and firearms equipment. "This is an appropriate use of these dollars," Warnke said.
The Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is equipped with five firearm shooting ranges. Each of the five ranges provides a different type of shooting environment. Its primary function is to provide Law Enforcement Officers with realistic and functional training.
Under the terms of the agreement, the range will be open the following dates and times:
Saturdays and Sundays: Sept. 8-Oct. 28: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
During this period, one 100-yard rifle range and one 15-yard pistol range will be open to the public to use for shooting and target practice. Shooters will not be limited in the time they spend on the range unless there are no open firing positions and others are waiting.
Daily: Nov. 3-16, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.:
A 50-yard rifle range will be open to the public for sighting in firearms in preparation for the gun deer-hunting season (during these dates rim fire .22 shooting will not be permitted). Sheriff's Office staff may limit the time shooters spend on the range during this high-use period. Experienced firearms instructors will be on hand to provide assistance with sighting and adjusting of firearms.
Target stands will be provided at the range. Shooters should bring ear and eye protection, targets and their own ammunition.
Fees of $10 per person per day will be charged by the Dane County Sheriff's Department. During the hunter sight-in program, November 3-16, a fee of $5 for each additional gun will be charged. Fees must be paid with cash or personal check. Credit cards are not accepted.
Minors: Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. A minor must be at least 12 years old and present proof of enrollment or completion of the DNR Hunter Safety Program in order to shoot at the range.
The Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is located at 5184 Hwy 19 in the Town of Westport, one mile east of the intersection of Hwy 113 and County Trunk I.
Check out the DNR's new website at: http://dnr.wi.gov.