After more than three years of silence, the sounds of gunfire echo through the woods again five days a week at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Public Range in Delaware County.

The Delaware Wildlife Area Rifle Range is just east of the old location on State Route 229, east of US Route 23 and north of Delaware State Park, and is part of the Delaware Wildlife Area.

The old range was closed in 2017 with the aim of replacing it with the new, larger facility.

The new range opened in December and everyone loves it, said Matt Neumeier, range supervisor.

“The overall reaction has been 100% positive,” he said. “A lot of people who used the old range can’t believe it when they first show up. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback – ‘I can’t believe it,’ It’s amazing ‘ , ‘Thank you.’ – I get a lot of thanks. “

Compared to the old range, the new range has more amenities and is much larger, he said. In fact, it’s the largest public shooting range in the state, he said, and it operates 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

The old firing range had six lanes that allowed firing at targets up to 100 yards, as well as a shorter firing range, he said.

The new firing range has 36 firing positions at 100 yards and 24-25 yards, as well as 36 lanes at a 50-foot firing range. The site also has three archery ranges and six clay shooting stations for shotguns, Neumeier said.

Unlike the old firing range, the pistol and rifle shooters are now under a roof and rest on concrete, he said.

In addition, the new site has a large building for educational purposes that could be used by private or public groups, Neumeier said.

The cost of the new line – earlier estimated at $ 9 million – was covered by the collection of the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition, he said.

“I would say the main reason we are building them is to give the hunters and recreational shooters in Ohio a place to shoot. The range was paid for with… excise tax,” he said. he declares. “We are repaying the hunters and shooters in Ohio by investing those excise tax dollars and giving them back.

“The sales of firearms and ammunition are very, very high right now, which means excise taxes are very high right now,” he said.

But high demand often leads to shortage.

According to a June 1 story from the American Rifleman website at, ammunition remains scarce. He pointed to market research by Southwick Associates, indicating that last year’s ammunition demand – which depleted stocks and kept many shelves empty – will remain strong for much of this year.

Rob Southwick, chairman of Southwick Associates, told the magazine he expects demand to slow, but said the combination of frantic shopping and empty shelves often fuel further increases in demand.

On higher and drier ground

One problem with the old range is that it was on lower ground than the current site and was flooded about twice a year, said Eric Postell, outdoor education program manager for the Ohio division of wildlife.

He said earlier that the old firing range was in an area that had been used to contain water when the Delaware Dam, operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, reduced the flow of the Olentangy River. to avoid more destructive flooding downstream.

Admission to the new line requires a daily pass of $ 5 or an annual pass of $ 24 for those 18 and over. Either can be purchased at any site that sells Ohio hunting and fishing licenses, Neumeier said.

What’s more, anyone who purchases a hunting license can also purchase an annual pass for a total of $ 29, he said. A resident’s annual hunting license alone costs $ 19.

Range passes can be used at any ODNR paid range in the state, Neumeier said.

The old firing range had an employee at the site, who worked in a small hut to check passes, he said.

Also in the old firing range, the shooters agreed on when to call a ceasefire to place, remove or check targets. Snipers would unload their weapons and stay behind a rope during ceasefires.

The system worked, Neumeier said, because shooters were always conscientious and safety-conscious.

The same system is used in the new shooting range, when the number of shooters is small enough, he said.

One distinction is that the current lineup now has at least three employees on site, and they watch what’s going on – either through line of sight or through high-definition cameras that cover every area of ​​the complex, Neumeier said.

“When things get busy, when things start to reach full capacity, or we see a lot of shooters at one stand, we’ll come down and help with ceasefires. And if it gets really busy, like if every bench was occupied, we would call and facilitate all ceasefires, ”he said.

This has happened several times since the opening of the new range, he said. Snipers stand behind a yellow line during ceasefires at the new firing range.

The new range provides shooters with target mounts, a convenience not available in the old range, he said.

Shooters glue or staple their paper targets to the stands and transport them to the firing range during ceasefires, placing the stands of the stands in plastic pipes in the ground, he said.

Several shooting lanes at the 100-meter range also have locations where stands can be placed 50 or 75 meters from shooters, he said.

These short-range spots turned out to be more popular than expected, Neumeier said. As a result, he said, the ODNR will install plastic pipes to allow the use of the shortest spans on all tracks within the 100-meter range.

Another change to the new range is that shooters are asked to stop at the range master building when they leave to report the number of shots they have fired. This step is necessary, said Neumeier, because sooner or later the earthen safety nets of the shooting range must be cleared of lead bullets. Tracking shells fired will help ODNR decide when cleanup is needed.

Archery range added

The addition of archery ranges to the complex means that an existing archery range, which for decades stood on Prospect-Mount Vernon Road in the northeast corner of the south of Morrow County, has been decommissioned, Neumeier said. The site and the surrounding woods will continue to be a public hunting area, he said.

The old archery range was unmanned, he said, and litter and vandalism were problematic.

Those who visit the new archery ranges will not be required to check in at the shooting master’s building, Neumeier said, but “I always appreciate it when they do.”

Those using the archery ranges will be under observation by cameras and can expect visits from range personnel, he said.

Staff members will mingle with all shooters to make their presence known, he said.

Compared to the old archery range, the new shooting ranges are as lavish as the gun lanes, Neumeier said.

The new shooting ranges include an elevated stand accessible to people with disabilities with targets at different distances and an archery track with 14 targets at distances of 10 to 60 meters. The old archery range had neither, Neumeier said. Both are on the west side of the complex.

On the east side of the complex are archery targets set at fixed distances of 20 to 90 meters, he said.

The complex’s educational and meeting building was recently used when the Liberty Township Conservation Club hosted a youth archery event and when the Delaware Public Health District hosted a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, said Neumeier.

The pandemic has so far limited use of the building, he said, but he expects it to frequently host events by the end of the summer.

Neumeier said gun lanes averaged 350 to 400 shooters per week, a number he hopes to skyrocket before fall.

“Traditionally, our use of the range really picks up in August and September, when everyone is getting ready for the hunting seasons,” he said.

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