Ohio to open 3 shooting ranges: What’s going on at Spring Valley range

Staff photo
Staff photo

Three shooting ranges operated by Ohio will open this week, but there is still no word on the area wildlife facility near Spring Valley.

Class A shooting ranges at Deer Creek, Grand River, and Woodbury wildlife areas will reopen to the public on Thursday, May 21, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. These three shooting ranges were initially closed in March 2020 as a safety precaution because of COVID-19 concerns.

Construction delays have caused the Spring Valley Wildlife Shooting Range to be closed for more than a year. The facility, at 3450 Houston Road, was closed to accommodate renovations and improvements of the property. The facility is managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The $2.4 million project was originally set to be completed by July 2019, but the excessive rains caused construction delays. In August 2019, an ODNR official told the Dayton Daily News the plan was to re-open by October 2019.

Today, the facilities remain closed and no re-opening date has been announced. An ODNR official did not respond to inquiries in time for the filing of this story.

To shoot at the other state ranges, reservations are highly recommended to secure a preferred shooting time, as they will be operating at 50% capacity. The Division of Wildlife will accept reservations beginning Monday, May 18. Reservations can be made from Monday to Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.. Shooting times are broken into 70-minute blocks, with 20 minutes in between to allow for proper cleaning. Visitors with reservations should arrive and check in no later than 15 minutes prior to their scheduled shooting time. Walk-ins are accepted as space allows within the 70-minute block.

State-owned Class A ranges that are reopening include:

• Deer Creek Wildlife Area shooting range, located at State Route 207 & Cook Yankeetown Road NE, Mt. Sterling 43143. Reservation phone number: (614) 644-3925.

• Grand River Wildlife Area Shooting Range located at 6693 Hoffman Norton Road NW, Bristolville 44402. Reservation phone number: (330) 644-2293.

• Woodbury Wildlife Area Shooting Range located at 23370 State Route 60, Warsaw 43844. Reservation phone number: (740) 589-9930.

Deer Creek and Grand River shooting ranges are open Thursday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shooting range at Woodbury will be open Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Visitors are asked to follow all social distancing guidelines and respect others’ personal space while at the shooting range. In addition, visitors are also encouraged to follow this guidance to stay safe:

• Follow the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines on personal hygiene prior to heading to the range, including hand washing, carrying hand sanitizer, staying home if you feel sick, and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

• The range restroom will be open, but guests should anticipate short closures for areas to be cleaned and sanitized. Bathroom hand driers and drinking fountains are not available.

• Masks are highly recommended to be worn at all times while using the range, in addition to proper eye and ear protection.

Shooting benches will be disinfected regularly with a commercial disinfectant. Shooters are encouraged to bring a towel or blanket to protect firearms and equipment. Shooters should also plan to provide their own eye and ear protection, targets and target holders.

Unsupervised shotgun, pistol and rifle ranges, as well as archery ranges on state properties, also remain open. A shooting range permit is required to shoot at Class A (supervised rifle and pistol), Class B (unsupervised rifle and pistol) and Class C target ranges (unsupervised clay target shotgun). A shooting range permit is not required at Class D (unsupervised archery) or other ranges not classified by the Division of Wildlife (other fees or purchases may apply).

Purchase an annual or daily shooting range permit through the Division of Wildlife’s online store or any location where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. An annual permit costs $24 and a daily permit is $5. An annual shooting range permit and hunting license combo is available to Ohio residents for $29.12.

Plans at Spring Valley

The 842-acre Spring Valley property contains ranges for a variety of shooting activities, including long- and short-distances for firing pistols, rifles, shotguns and archery practice.

Among the planned improvements is a new entrance closer to Roxanna-New Burlington Road and better overall grading to improve access to the range areas. A new range master building is also part of the plans with restrooms and enhanced safety and security features.

A second phase of the project includes constructing a new education building.

A writer for the Buckeye Firearms Association was granted a tour of the construction site in August.

Brett Beatty, ODNR District 5 wildlife management supervisor, told the BFA there have been “some minor unanticipated issues” but the contractor, Xenia-based R Sutherland Construction, “has managed to stay on schedule.”

In April, a statement released to BFA Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker says:

“The completion of the Spring Valley Shooting Range improvement project has been delayed. During construction of the project it was determined that the original design did not provide adequate assurance that all fired bullets will be safely confined within the range. The design issues are being addressed so as to provide a safe shooting experience for users of the range as well as the general public. The Division of Wildlife is focused on creating safe and modern shooting ranges for the citizens of Ohio. We appreciate your patience as we work to complete the first phase of construction, while phase II construction of the Outdoor Education Training Center proceeds.”

The Spring Valley Twp. site is the most-used among public shooting ranges across the state, with up to 30,000 people signing in annually to use the pistol and rifle ranges, according to officials.