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Muskego gun club still takes aim at safer range plan

But work on final project is progressing slowly

Feb. 10, 2014

Muskego — The plan to reposition the firing range at the Schultz Resort Rod and Gun Club is going much slower than its directors expected.

The gun club, located at S8025 Schultz Lane, had hoped to reorient the range away from homes, and toward Little Muskego Lake, as early as fall 2013, bowing to concerns about claims that stray ammunition from the facility has ended up in residential yards.

But Len Pilak, gun club president, said last week that when he made that prediction last March he didn't know the full extent of what it would take to pull off such a project.

"It's a long, slow process," he said, adding that he didn't want to predict when plans would be ready to submit to the Muskego Plan Commission.

Dirt for berms

The delay has meant that the project lost the possibility of using dirt from the Janesville Road widening project to help build the new berms that will be needed.

However, Pilak said contractors have been contacting him about dumping clean fill at the club, so he isn't worried about having enough dirt for the berms.

"When the time comes, we'll be wooing those people," said Pilak, who is working with the city and the state Department of Natural Resources on how much dirt has to be moved and how drainage would be affected.

The plan is to have a 25-foot berm on each side of the new shooting range and a backstop berm at the end to keep bullets from flying into the lake. He guessed all that would cost more than $200,000.

Safer approaches

The reason for the efforts is tied to issues reported to the city in the past, about bullets from the firing range landing in yards.

Gun club officials think those bullets came from hunters on nearby open land and not from the facility, but they agreed nonetheless to turn the range toward Big Muskego Lake.

In the meantime, the club has taken steps to make the range safer, Pilak said.

It increased the height of many of the existing berms to reduce the likelihood of stray bullets flying off the range, he explained. Some of those berms could be moved to create the new berms alongside the southward shooting corridor, he added.

Also to increase safety, the range's baffles — slats of metal suspended above the shooters — have been modified to reduce the chances of bullets shot too high from landing outside the range, Pilak said. Instead, such high-flying bullets are redirected downward.

Better results

Muskego Police Chief Craig Moser said he will continue to meet with range officials to monitor safety at the gun club, but he is hopeful that the higher berms and modified baffles might be helping.

"There were no incidents in fall, which is when the incidents happened in the past," Moser said.

Neighbor Gregg Schmidt, whose complaint following a Nov. 18, 2012, incident prompted the city to examine safety at the gun club, acknowledged he hasn't had any more unnerving incidents recently.

"I didn't hear any bullets going over my head this fall," Schmidt said, who earlier had recounted how he and his children hit the dirt in their backyard due to stray shots.

While he is happy about the interim measures, that doesn't mean the gun club shouldn't follow through on its safety plans.

"I still don't feel safe because they're still firing this way," Schmidt said. "I'll be more satisfied when they swing the range to the south."

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