Rifle range nearly doubles capacity

The Byers Canyon Rifle Range in Hot Sulphur Springs.
Bryce Martin / Sky-Hi News |

Grand County’s popular Byers Canyon Rifle Range has provided sportsman with a shooting safe haven since the early 70s but after more than a decade of seeking funding the popular shooting sports destination recently got an upgrade with the installation of several new shooting lanes and other amenities.

Construction on the project started on April 17 and expanded the current number of rifle lanes from five to nine. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also added two new handgun lanes, bringing the total to four, and plans to install a long-range handgun lane later this summer. Additionally the project included installation of 50 yard targets, in addition to the previously existing 25 yard targets, on the two .22 lanes at the range.

The expansion project was undertaken to reduce wait times and congestion at the popular shooting range, a favorite spot of Front Range hunters heading into the high country for fall big game seasons.

To ensure the safety of citizens utilizing the range CPW also raised and lengthened the dirt berms surrounding the shooting lanes. All told employees from CPW moved and piled 52,000 cubic yards of material in constructing the new project. The new shooting lanes were installed in between the older lanes. Doug Gillham, CPW Wildlife Technician for this area, oversees the Rifle Range and explained the placement of the new lanes.

“The existing lanes were 100 yards apart,” Gillham said. “We put a new lane in between each existing lane. The lanes are built so that a person shooting in one lane is not going to be able to see the person on the 200-yard target next door. Someone can walk safely down to change the 200-yard target and not be worried about an inadvertent discharge. Safety is our first consideration.”

Gillham, who oversees all ranch properties owned by CPW in this area, said he has been seeking funding to expand the Rifle Range since 2006. In 2015 funding was allocated for the project. The total cost of the project is estimated at roughly $100,000. All funding for the expansion project is derived from hunting and fishing license fees.

Helping make operation of the Range possible are summer volunteers Joe and Barbara Cabler. The Cablers, from central Texas, volunteer as camp hosts each summer and decided to come to Grand County this year. They oversee day-to-day operation and maintenance of the range, tacking up new targets, cleaning trash carelessly left by visitors, and keeping watch over those utilizing the range to ensure they are following the safety rules.

Parks and Wildlife installed a traffic counter device at the entrance to the range and recorded roughly 10,000 vehicles entering the property last year. It should be noted the range is closed annually to provide winter range habitat for big game and is not open from the week after New Year’s Day to the end of April.

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