Adams County officials are planning a new $7.5 million public shooting range next to Denver International Airport. The Adams County Public Shooting and Sportsman Education Park is planned for 60 acres near the intersection of East 120th Avenue and Gun Club Road.
County officials say they addressed air-traffic safety in their plans and that the facility is needed to meet demand for a public range in the metro area that provides training and supervised shooting opportunities. But the Denver International Airport planning manager has expressed that building the range about 2 miles from the north end of a future runway "raises safety concerns for air-traffic overflights."
DIA has two north-south runways in the northwest quadrant of the airport, and its master plan calls for another parallel runway about 4,000 feet to the west.
The FAA has notified the Adams County planning officials that the agency wants to evaluate the county proposal "to ensure that safety precautions will be taken to prevent stray bullets and inadvertent discharge of firearms, and security measures are taken to prevent users of the facility from intentionally firing at aircraft overhead."
A review of Adams County’s proposal by the Transportation Security Administration "has raised concerns regarding the use of automatic and large-caliber rifles at the public facility." Assessments conducted by the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and Justice found the presence of a public shooting range would likely pose a threat to DIA security.
Because of the close proximity, the range would require frequent observation by DHS personnel. In high-security conditions, the shooting range may be closed for an indeterminate period.
A business plan for the county shooting range and sportsman park said it "will fill the void caused by the lack of public shooting venues in the greater Denver area." Preliminary plans call for the facility to have a 200-yard-long rifle range, a 50-meter pistol range, an outdoor shooting area with four trap fields and five shooting stations, an archery range, and a "hunter education skills area." In August, the Colorado Division of Wildlife told Adams officials that the state agency would contribute $220,000 toward construction of the facility.
Among the shooting range’s proposed safety rules, according to the business plan:
• No armor-piercing ammunition.
• No rapid fire permitted. Allow at least one second between shots.
• No BMG (Browning Machine Gun).
Adams County planning department will cooperate with the FAA in the preparation of an "airspace analysis" requested by the agency. That analysis will describe the county’s plan to prevent bullets from escaping the shooting ranges.
The county also plans to construct a complex adjacent to the shooting range that will be used to train law enforcement officers, Montoya said. It will include shooting facilities, a range for teaching driving techniques and a bomb disposal area. Adams County commissioners are scheduled to take up the public shooting range proposal at a hearing 10 a.m. Oct. 4.