Falmouth gun club gets permits, reopens all ranges

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FALMOUTH — The Falmouth Rod & Gun Club has reopened after making safety improvements on all of its ranges.

The club’s four ranges were shut down last spring after police and town inspectors discovered safety violations, including berms that were not high enough to stop bullets from going onto neighboring properties.

“They’ve done an outstanding job meeting all the safety standards a range should have,” Police Chief Edward Tolan said Monday.

Tolan said he issued the permits for the club’s two pistol ranges on Friday, Jan. 6, and the rifle range on Monday, Jan. 9. The trap range was permitted to reopen in October 2011.

“Everyone’s very excited about it,” said club President James Conrad. He said he was headed to the rifle range Monday to shoot there for the first time in nearly a year.

In addition to earthen berms at the heights recommended by the National Rifle Association, the ranges all include concrete side barriers to prevent bullets from leaving the club’s property.

Conrad said the club at 293 Gray Road could have asked its roughly 300 members to pay for the improvements, but that instead they relied on private donations, loans and fundraising.

He said the club leadership was happy with the way the town handled the issue.

“I think (the process) has been extremely reasonable,” he said. “The town set up goals from the start and we’ve met or exceeded them.”

Tolan agreed.

“Everything we’ve asked them to do, they’ve done. Everything meets the standards for safety,” he said.

The experience with the club has also changed the way the Police Department is handling the permitting process for shooting ranges, Tolan said.

The club’s ranges will each be permitted separately and inspected annually by a firearms expert in the department.

Tolan said he made a mistake assuming the club did not need annual inspections and permits because it was old enough to be exempt from certain ordinances, and that he was glad the process is now clear.

Conrad said at least one of the neighbors who initially complained about safety issues with the club has inspected the work and been satisfied.

He said he did not, however, think it is possible to make everyone happy because some people simply do not want a shooting range near their homes.

“It is what it is,” Conrad said. “We’re a target; we’re a gun club.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.