Airhall Construction Started

Work has begun on the 35,000-square-foot air hall at the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center.

Final approval for a $500,000 Economic Improvement Corp. grant came last Tuesday from Kerrville City Council. Kerr County Commissioners also approved the grant Nov. 13

I like this kind of project, Pct. 4 Commissioner Dave Nicholson said. Because it clearly brings revenue and jobs. That’s what economic development is all about.

Another $300,000 grant could come before the end of this year, if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves an environmental assessment performed at the shooting range on Cypress Creek Road.

USFW spokesman Susan MacMullin said Monday that 56 public comments were submitted in October and are being incorporated into the environmental assessment.

Some were really concerned about issues in the local neighborhood the noise particularly  and some were concerned about the impact on the environment, MacMullin said.

Other comments supported the economic impact of the project and its benefit to U.S. Olympic programs, she said.

Basically, it’s the issues that have been in the community ever since this started, MacMullin said.

A decision on whether the environmental assessment is sufficient to approve the grant is expected from the USFW Southwest Region director in early December, she said. If it’s decided more study is needed, then an environmental impact study would be ordered.

If we stay with the environmental assessment, that means we’ve addressed everything, then it would be a finding of no significant impact, she said. Then we could go ahead with the grant.

Construction going ahead

Hill Country Shooting Sports Center President Jack Burch said Wednesday that the $1.3 million air hall is scheduled to open in June 2007. Site work has begun and the concrete pad could be poured sometime in December.

The air hall will be used for air rifle and air pistol shooting, Burch said. Small-bore firearms will not be used because they require more extensive ventilation systems.

According to Burch, 10-meter and shorter ranges will be used for national, state and local competition.

Locally, I don’t know how big the group is that shoots air rifle or air pistol, he said. 4-H in the state has a pretty good contingent.

National competitions draw 400 to 500 shooters, he said. However, the only U.S. facility large enough to stage this type of event is in Fort Benning, Ga. The U.S. Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs doesn’t have a suitable facility, he said.

Burch said when the building is complete and target machinery installed, HCSSC will start running small-scale competitions to learn how to use the equipment. Larger competitions are expected the following year.

We have already applied for the 2008 national competitions for 4-H, he said.

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