Meade County Commissioners, residents voice concern over new state shooting facility

The facility will cost around $12 million and will be paid for by excise taxes on firearms and ammo, private donations and federal and state funds. 

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Shooting sports lovers, hunters and the in-between will soon have a new facility to sight in their weapons.

The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks have released plans for a new shooting range facility, that will bring a lot more to the area in terms of competitive facility capabilities.

Shooting Range 14

“What we’re planning to do is build the largest firearm range ever constructed in South Dakota and quite frankly, this will rival most any range in the nation,” said John Kanta, the Terrestrial Section Chief for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

The facility will offer a shooting sports opportunity for novice or experienced adults and children as well as a free opportunity for everyone to shoot their weapons.

As for what makes it special, it’s the size.

Kanta says that the new facility sits on roughly 400 acres of land that will allow it to house multiple 50 to 100 yard shooting bays as well 200 to 300 yard bays, not to mention long range shooting capabilities and shooting/sporting clay stations.

The facility will cost around $12 million and will be paid for by excise taxes on firearms and ammo, private donations and federal and state funds.

Construction is set to start in the spring of 2022 and finish in the fall. Kanta says that difficulty in finding materials and finishing touches may move the completion date to sometime in 2023.

Yes, it will provide an opportunity for shooting sports but it will give South Dakota a chance to house national shooting competitions that will bring competitors from around the country to stay in the area, providing a boost for hotels and restaurants that those competitors will visit.

“The whole strategy or plan there is we’ll hold an event. We’ll bring them in, but we’ll send them back into Rapid City or Sturgis areas like that so they can eat, stay in hotels and then hopefully you would stay and visit for a while bringing some economic stimulus to the area,” Kanta said.

However, not everyone supports the shooting facility.

At a Meade County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, landowners and ranchers that live in the area shared their concerns.

Their concerns included:

  • Safety of the site
  • Additional vehicle traffic and road maintenance for Meade County
  • Loss of Property Tax Revenue (Kanta did mention that the state will pay taxes on the property.)
  • Lead contamination/environmental concerns

The concerns were drafted by a commissioner and addressed in a letter to Governor Noem, according to the Meade County Commission but wasn’t sent or acted upon.

In the letter, the commissioners stated,

“It appears the benefactors of this project are the state and the residents of Rapid City and Pennington County. Please advise as to how the state can partner with Meade County to ensure our residents are not carrying the financial burden of this project.”

Kanta says that a meeting with SDGF&P is scheduled with the landowners on January.

To view the letter sent to Governor Noem by Meade County Commissioners, click the link below.

Board Letter 12.21.2021

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