The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued Beltrami County a large trap range grant toward development of the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park located off Highway 89 south of Jackpine Road.
The $419,732 grant was the largest grant awarded to any facility across the state as part of a statewide effort to promote the development and enhancement of trap shooting facilities.
The Minnesota Legislature last year authorized more than $2 million for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs for developing or rehabilitating trap shooting sports facilities for public use, with an emphasis on enhancing youth participation opportunities.
“It’s great to see greater Minnesota receive this money. This is a fantastic opportunity to move forward in developing the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park,” said Dick Moore, Beltrami County land commissioner and director of Beltrami County Natural Resources Department. “This is a result of a lot of hard work by so many local people dedicated to moving this project forward.”
The Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park is part of the Northland Regional Sports Park, which will be a multi-use sporting facility that promotes outdoor recreation. The Shooting Sports Park facility will serve as a firearms training center and provide a venue for youth and families to learn how to shoot, compete in local and statewide shooting sports events and develop hunting skills that ensure the future of the hunting and shooting sports tradition. It will provide safe, family-friendly recreational shooting opportunities to northwest Minnesota.
“The DNR grant, combined with a generous gift from the George W. Nielson Foundation and donations from individuals and businesses, will allow the project to break ground in 2015,” said Mark Farabee, chairman of the Headwater Shooting Sports Association. “We’ve still got a ways to go with the fundraising efforts, though.”
Farabee adds that additional funding is still required in order to complete the project’s two-year, Phase 1 range infrastructure plan. Tax-deductible gifts or pledges can be made to the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Fund through the Northwest Minnesota Foundation (www.nwmf.org).
Additional information on the Shooting Sports Park can be found at www.bemidjishooters.org and www.bemidji.trap.skeet.org.
Development of the DNR trap grants program follows a significant rise in youth trap shooting, especially by high school students who are part of a statewide league. Existing trap ranges sometimes struggle to meet demand.
“This is great news for the Bemidji High School clay target team, as well as other school districts in the region,” said Bryan Hammitt, Bemidji High School Clay Target team coach. “Greater Bemidji area teams will be able to use the facility to compete in sectional and invitational high school clay target league matches.”
Hammitt added that the growth of the high school clay target team, now in its second year, has been phenomenal and the team has quickly become highly competitive in the statewide league.