By Polly Keary, Editor
A shooting range on Sultan Basin Road, a long-held dream for area sport shooters, came a step closer to reality this month when a top official from the NRA toured the site with high level county officials and discussed design, funding and site features.
Brian Hyder, the NRA Headquarters Director of Training, Education and Program Development, visited the future shooting range with county councilmember Dave Somers, county parks head Tom Tiegen, county tourism bureau representative Tammy Dunn, a representative from the Washington State Archery Association and many others June 5.
As the group toured the land that the DNR recently gave the county for the purpose of creating a shooting range park, they agreed that a good beginning would be to start by creating an archery range on the 156-acre property.
That could qualify the site for some tourism grants and promotion of some events prior to the creation of a range for firearms.
Hyder offered expert insight on the potential design of the course, some insights on maintaining a relationship with the NRA, and more.
By the end of the day, the group established a goal of opening an archery range on the site by spring or summer of next year.
Snohomish County has already granted the project $200,000 and has pledged another $500,000 at the rate of $100,000 per year.
One of the things Hyder emphasized was that creating a non-profit group to oversee the project would be very important, and he encouraged the group to begin the filing process immediately.
So this month, the group C.R.E.S.T., which has been working on the 40-year project of creating a shooting range on Sultan Basin Road, worked toward getting non-profit status, and renamed itself the Sky Valley Sportsman’s Group. The group also started a website at wwwlskyvalleysportsmansgroup.org, populating it with basic information and planning to develop it further in coming weeks.
Now the group is seeking an attorney who would be willing to donate some time to help with the process. Anyone interested should visit the website, said organizer Steve Slawson.
“The Sky Valley Sportsman’s Group would like to thank everyone for their continued support,” he added. “Their generous donations have made incorporation possible and we encourage continuing participation with the group to keep this project moving forward.”
For many years, illegal shooting ranges have flourished along Sultan Basin Road, resulting in acres of detritus and contamination polluting the forest floor and Olney Creek. Organizers of the multi-use range hope that the creation of a safe, legal and amenity-rich range will result in the abandonment of the illegal ranges.
Among the hopes for the completed range are a pro-shop, berms to contain shot and noise, a target range suitable for training for law enforcement and for competitions, as well as another suitable for young shooters, and more. The park could also serve as an important piece of an emerging sports tourism economy, which could benefit local business, they believe.
They envision paying for the operation of the range through concessions, memberships, admissions and funding through the non-profit managing organization.
Currently, the nearest public ranges to Sultan are in Granite Falls and Kenmore.