A high water table and dedicated use as a spray field are big problems at proposed shooting range site.

Promoters of a proposed modern shooting range say a piece of property north of the sheriff’s office is unsuitable for their plans.

Members of the Tate’s Hell Rod and Gun Club (THRGC) had hoped that property north of the sheriff’s office, which belongs to the Franklin county School Board, could serve double duty as a spray field and gun park, but George Worthen, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) said the two uses are incompatible. He said a shooting range is not just to protect people from stray bullets.

“A shooting range can be constructed adjacent to a wetland or spray field but they may not share the same footprint,” he said in a telephone interview. “The purpose of shooting range is partly containment of contaminants.”

THRGC had already been told East Point Water and Sewer was unwilling to relinquish a ten year lease they hold on the property and Superintendent of Schools Nina Marks indicated that the school board has spent $500,000 on surveys, engineering and plans related to the property that would need to be repaid if it isn’t used to construct a spray field and bus barn as is currently planned.

Grayson Shepard, a spokesperson for THRGC said the news that the parcel is unsuitable is not an insurmountable problem. His group is now looking at a parcel immediately to the east of the school board property. We would just pick the FWC plans up and move them east, he said.

The new site belongs to Tate’s Hell State Forest but Shepard said he is optimistic that FWC could negotiate with the Florida Forest Service.

Meanwhile, THRGC is growing. Ted Ruffner, another founding member said membership is approaching 300.

The proposed gun park would include a classroom, security fencing and covered shooting ranges and would provide a site for law enforcement certification and competitive shooting as well as education.