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On target: Shooting range helps hunters gear up for season

Hunters in the Polson area can go to the Polson Shooters Association Range on Kerr Dam Road southwest of Polson to get a little practice before the actual seasons start. In fact, the PSA held a free sight-in-your-rifle day on Sept. 24 and got quite a few customers.

While they are waiting until hunting season to begin construction, members of the PSA received a shooting range development grant from the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks earlier in the summer, and the environmental assessment process has been approved. With the $20,150 grant and matching funds from the group, the association will connect power to the range, construct a wall between the handgun and rifle ranges, pour concrete pads behind the shooting benches, build more benches and build a cover over the shooters. The grant calls for the work to be completed by June 20. Some of the work will be done by members, and some will be contracted, according to Mauri Morin, president.

There is a hut on the property for storage and for the range officer on duty. It can get cold, so the electricity will allow the PSA to heat the building and maybe eventually put in lights.

Separating the long guns from the handguns is a good idea, Morin explained, because some of the long guns can only be fired two or three times before the shooter has to pause for the barrel to cool down. The handgun shooter can fire away, but then he or she has to wait while the long gun shooter walks 200 yards out to look at the target.

The association has more than 200 members, Morin said. Members are given the combinations for the locked gates and may use the range at will. People who want to shoot just for the day may pay $5 on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday afternoon from noon to 5 p.m.

An individual membership is $30, a family membership is $40 and a lifetime membership is $150 so it’s inexpensive.

Range officers are on hand during public shoot days to help new shooters or assist people who have recently purchased a new handgun or rifle and want to get more familiar with it. The association also supplies targets, stands and sandbags.

Previously the range was under the management of Polson Outdoors Inc., but in 2005 the Marine Corps League approached Lake County Commissioners to see if they could clean up and make some improvements to the range.

Lake County leased the land to the PSA, and they buried all the old junk thrown into the shooting range. They also installed gates in the middle of 2006 to make the range tougher to reach as a party site and a dumping area.

Morin is the PSA president; his wife Barbara is the treasurer, and Rob St. Clair is the secretary. Although the vice president slot is open, the PSA board is Frank Brown, Greg Hudowalski, Ken Richardson, Dan Roberts and Glenn Timm.

“It’s a wonderful little facility,” David Houghton, Rollins, said.

Houghton was at the range shooting his .243 on a sunny fall afternoon. Although it’s a long drive for him, Houghton said he has visited the range at least 10 times this summer.

Houghton said shooting at the range gives him a comfort level when he does go hunting that he will be sure of his shot and make ethical decisions.

For additional questions or to join the association, talk to the range office during public hours or e-mail Morin at maurv8@gmail.com.

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