Spearfish Rifle and Pistol Range set for safety berm improvements

The Spearfish Rifle and Trap Club will be the project manager overseeing construction to raise and stabilize the safety berm between the rifle and pistol shooting areas at the range off of Spearfish Canyon Highway. The city council approved payment of $5,000 to the club for the upgrades, as the city owns the property, which is leased to the club. Pioneer photo by Kaija Swisher

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SPEARFISH — The Spearfish Rifle and Pistol Range, off of Spearfish Canyon Highway, is set for some improvements this year.

The Spearfish City Council Aug. 5 authorized payment of $5,000 to the Spearfish Rifle and Trap Club for safety berm upgrades and $3,000 to Builders Choice for the purchase of a storage shed. The range is owned by the city and leased to the club.

Police Chief Pat Rotert explained that the request was an unbudgeted item that came to the city from the club.

“The berm in between the two (sides of the rifle and pistol range) has settled somewhat, and we’ve had a couple of instances in the last year or two where a rock chip or a shattered piece of bullet finds its way to the other side of the range, so the club wants to level (the top of the berm), raise it a little bit, and cap it with some concrete, and that’s the quote they got on that,” Rotert said.

In a letter from Keith Massey, president of the Spearfish Rifle and Trap Club, to City Building Official Tom Paisley, Massey writes that “The 300-foot earth berm between the rifle and pistol ranges at the Spearfish Rifle and Trap Club in Spearfish Canyon was built to provide a safe barrier between those shooting areas. Natural earth settling has reduced the berm’s height and it no longer serves as an adequate and safe barrier. In 2018, a Lawrence County (Sheriff’s Office) officer was shooting on the pistol range and struck by bullet fragments from the rifle range on the other side of the berm.”

The Spearfish Rifle and Pistol Club would be the project manager overseeing the construction and payment to contractors to complete the upgrade to the safety berm, and the project cost laid out in Massey’s letter outlines the leveling of the 300-foot top surface of the existing berm and place 6-foot-long by 2-foot-high by 2-foot-wide concrete blocks along its length. The cost is broken down: Leveling the berm surface, $500; 50 concrete blocks at $60 per block, $3,000; transport of blocks to worksite, $500; and crane and labor to set blocks, $1,000, for a total project cost of $5,000, with potential cost savings should city personnel and equipment be used for portions of the project.

“This project is necessary for safety of law enforcement personnel and all shooters at the rifle and pistol ranges. It is critical that this hazardous situation be eliminated as soon as possible to reduce potential injury and liability,” Massey’s letter states.

Rotert explained that the city receives funding through agreements with other law enforcement partners for use of the range for law enforcement trainings and that those funds have been set aside for projects like this request.

“We feel this is a worthwhile project (and) that those funds would be the perfect partnership with the club to do,” he said.

While looking at upgrades at the range, the police department is also in need of a shed to house its equipment. Currently, the department has training equipment and target materials in shared storage owned by the club at the range, so Rotert requested that a separate shed by moved to the range for the exclusive use of the police department.

The $3,000 payment to Builders Choice would provide a 12-by-16-foot storage shed, to be placed near other storage sheds of the club at the range. 

The cost breakdown for the shed and related installation includes $2,800 for the shed; $37 for delivery; $100 for paint; and $65 for target stands, for a total of $3,002. The shed’s expected delivery is around the end of September.

The funds for the shed would also come from the funds acquired through agreements with other law enforcement partners for use of the range for law enforcement trainings.

“Sounds like it needs to be done,” Council President Dan Hodgs, who chaired the meeting in Mayor Dana Boke’s absence, said of the projects.

The council unanimously approved the requests. Councilman Marty Clark was absent.

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