Mudslides and washouts caused the Columbia County Shooting Range to close until further notice, ahead of gun deer season.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) closed the entire range Oct. 2.
“We found out that there had been deep ravines down through the backstops where the bullets are supposed to impact,” Keith Warnke, the hunting and shooting sports coordinator, explained. “There were pockets where the water had come down over the top of the backstop and carved out a lot of the clay and sand that’s supposed to stop the bullets.”
He added that the range in its current state can cause safety hazards. Bullets can ricochet off of damaged backstops, instead of staying in place.
Gun deer season begins Nov. 23. According to Warnke, the shooting range is busiest at this time of year as hunters seek to sight-in their rifles.
“This is one setback at one range out of many around the state,” Warnke said. “I would encourage hunters who are preparing for hunting season, there are several other ranges around Dane County that will accept hunters, are open to hunters and provides sight-in opportunities for folks.”
Warnke added, “We really understand the urgency of getting the range reopened.”
Once the range becomes dry, the DNR says contractors can then begin their repair work.
Mudslides and washouts at the Columbia County Shooting Range. (Courtesy of Wisconsin DNR).