Ohio’s most popular state-owned shooting range, the Spring Valley Shooting Range in Greene County, has closed for a year to accommodate renovation work.
The $2.4 million project by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife is underway on the 842-acre Spring Valley Wildlife Area. The project consists of creating a new entry way, adding more parking spaces, erecting a new rangemaster building, and adding safety features and improvements to the pistol and rifle shooting range.
Sutherland Construction is the contractor on the project, which is being paid for through federal Pittman-Robertson wildlife conservation funds, a portion of which is set aside for shooting ranges and hunter education, according to Eric Postell, program manager for ODNR’s Division of Wildlife.
The second phase of the project is constructing an educational facility, the bidding for which will begin in January, Postell said.
“This is a major facelift for the facility,” Postell said. “Spring Valley is by far the most heavily used public, outdoor shooting range in the state.”
Up to 30,000 people annually sign in to use the range, which is one of the state’s only ranges that stays open through the winter, said Spring Valley Shooting Range Supervisor Brant Fulks.
That number doesn’t include people who use the archery range and the shotgun range, which doesn’t require people to sign in, Fulks said. The Spring Valley facility is a regional destination, attracting people from Indiana and Cincinnati, Fulks said, adding that the phone has been ringing nonstop since the facility closed last month.
“A lot of people are missing it,” Fulks said. “Most people, they seem to be excited about the project. A lot of people felt we had nice range. When we explain the new road and new building, it seems people are definitely on board with that.”
The nearest comparable facility is the Deer Creek Shooting Range in Fayette County.
The contractor is working now on moving dirt to build the new entrance. It will replace the hilly, winding and narrow roadway that made it a challenge for two vehicles to cross paths.
Improvements planned for the shooting range include building taller backstops and a new awning on the firing line — safety enhancements that will make it difficult to fire over the backstops. Drainage will be improved to better contain and filter the lead from fired rounds.
Fulks said the plans for the education building include an indoor archery range and a “wet lab,” where experts will hold workshops teaching how to process game as well as cleaning and cooking fish.
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“Really, we’ll have everything you need for a lot of hunting and fishing opportunities,” he said.
The Spring Valley Shooting Range is slated to reopen in October 2019 when the project is expected to be finished.
The outdoor archery range will be relocated and will feature increased target ranges of 40 to 50 yards.