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20120919 MISSION SKEET TRAP CLUB pistol range JB  0052Lester Tisdale, handgun instructor at Mission Skeet and Trap Club, shows Progress Times reporter Carina A. Brunson how to load a pistol and get it ready to fire at the club’s newly opened pistol range. Tisdale, and other staff emphasize gun safety while shooters are using the range. Progress Times photo by Jim BrunsonMISSION – What was once a sanitary landfill, the Mission Skeet and Trap Club, home of an array of outdoor shooting sports, has recently added a new covered outdoor pistol range facility for handgun enthusiasts. Visitors can now enjoy shooting in the shade at targets 3 to 25 yards away.

The club’s previous pistol range was closed down last year. Since May, the club has been working on building an enclosed area where handgun owners could practice shooting without posing any dangers to anyone else in the area. Lester Tisdale, a board member of the club and a handgun instructor, said they looked at other gun ranges across the state before deciding on what they wanted to build. The building cost approximately $50,000.

Built with safety in mind, the new pistol range includes 10 lanes with walls on both sides and a berm of dirt at the far end. The building is 40 feet by 100 feet. Each target can be set at different distances. The facility features a concrete floor, covered shooting area, carpeted shooting bench and drive up parking. It is also supervised by a range safety officer at all times during operating hours.

The walls are made of corrugated sheet metal and filled with pea gravel—thick enough stop any bullets that might hit the walls, according to Tisdale. The area where the targets are placed, also have the corrugated sheet metal filled with pea gravel at the top, and railroad ties covering the 1/8 inch steel to prevent ricocheting. The 1/8 inch steel is used for support and holding everything together.

The berm down range is at least four feet thick at the top, and triple that thickness at the bottom. The dirt is dampened before opening to help minimize the dust and make a soft impact for bullets.

There are several safety procedures that take place at the range, including a cease fire line for when a target is being moved and the range safety officer making sure the shooter’s gun is safe to use or to put away. Procedures and rules are posted on the wall of the building.

No one shoots unless a range safety officer is present. The only rifle cartridges allowed are 22 calibre. Most pistol cartridges can be used at the range; the exception, however, is neck-down pistol cartridges are not allowed.

Safety at the range is the number one priority, said Tisdale and range safety officer Jeff Simpson.

“The club is open to everyone,” said Tisdale. “You don’t have to be a club member to use the range or any of the other facilities, but there are daily range fees for members and non-members.”

“This is the best kept secret is South Texas,” he said. “Nobody knows it’s here.”

Tisdale, along with another board member, teach Concealed Handgun License classes. Tisdale spends two days teaching participants what they need to know and training them to use a gun before they take a test to see if they qualify for a CHL. The classes offered by Tisdale cost $125, plus range fee.

The pistol range is open Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to twilight and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. until twilight.

Membership fees start at $25 for junior member ages 21-29 years for one year. Membership fees for other categories include: Winter Texans, $40; for individuals that only want to use the archery facilities, $75; pistol and archery, $100; senior citizens age 65 and older, $125; and a full membership with all privileges is $200.

There is a one-time initiation fee of $50 for senior citizens and full membership as well.

For the pistol range, daily range fee for non-members is $15, couples $20, and adult with a minor $18. Law enforcement and servicemen receive a discounted range fee of $10. Members get the discounted price of $5.50.

Fees for other facilities at the range include $5.50 for skeet and trap for members and $6 for five-stand. Non-members are $10 for all shotgun ranges. Fees for archery range from $2 for ages up to 12, to $40 for non-members depending on target types, plus an orientation fee of $10.

For more information call 583-5996. Mission Skeet and Trap Club is located ½ Mile South Conway, just before the Hike & Bike Trail parking lot and just south of the water treatment plant. For CHL classes, call Lester Tisdale at 227-4504.

Although the pistol gun range is already open to the public, there will be a grand opening in October.

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