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Shooting range looking to draw a crowd

The Sgt. Darrell S. Cole Memorial Shooting Range located in St. Joe State Park is hoping to draw more community members out to take advantage of what there is to offer.

Range Master Giovanni Carollo said there are 12 firing points and it’s called a no blue sky range. The tunnels keep people from shooting over the berm.

“We have tall firing points and you can shoot from three yards all the way out to 100 meters,” Carollo said. “The targets move, so you can take them out a 100 meters and shoot. We were awarded a grant from the federal government to do some improvements and expand. If everything goes right, in October we will start building our trap and skeet range, a shotgun patterning range and we will have archery and a walk-through or 3-D archery range.”

Carrollo said they are hoping they are able to get everything done they plan to build to expand the range. He said that it’s really nice out there and all firing points are covered, so even in rainy weather visitors can shoot.

“The only time we don’t let them shoot is if there is lightning,” Carrollo said. “The area is covered so you should stay dry and it also shades you while shooting, so you should stay nice and cool on the firing line. There may be a 15 to 20 degree difference in the temperature on the firing line than what it is out on the range.”

Carrollo said it is nice that the state built the range. He added he works for Mineral Area College and they use the range for law enforcement training and for the police academy.

“They bring the cadets over and they will use it to train them with their firearms,” said Carrollo. “It’s a nice range for the community, especially with all the hunters in the area.”

The range opened on Dec. 16, 2016, and Jay Nixon, who was the governor at the time, came out and fired the first shot on the range for the grand opening.

“The range is named after Sgt. Darrell S. Cole, who was a 19-year-old sergeant in the Marine Corp during World War II,” Carrollo said. ”He fought in the South Pacific and was awarded the Medal of Honor after he was killed in action. He opened up a swath on the island where the Japanese had the guys pinned down with machine gunfire. His actions allowed the Marines to get inland and take the island, but he was killed in action in that battle. He was raised here in Esther.”

United State Marine Corp Sgt. Darrell S. Cole

United State Marine Corp Sgt. Darrell S. Cole

Carrollo couldn’t express enough how nice the range is and that the people in the county should come out and use it. He said it’s also reasonably priced. The cost is $6 an hour to shoot and if they are a first responder or in the military it’s only $5 an hour to shoot.

Sgt. Darrell S. Cole Memorial Range Master Giovanni Carollo is happy to help anyone at the range and encourages the community to come out for a little target practice.

Sgt. Darrell S. Cole Memorial Range Master Giovanni Carollo is happy to help anyone at the range and encourages the community to come out for a little target practice.

“We do have targets you can buy here and some ammunition you can buy, but we are more than happy to have people bring their own targets and bullets with them,” Carrollo said. “We do have stools and rests for people to use when they want to sight in a rifle or something like that.”

He said they hear from a lot of people that they didn’t even know the range was out here and they are trying to get the word out about the range.

“I can’t believe the number of people who come out that are from Farmington or even Park Hills and they didn’t know we were here,” Carrollo said. “It is just a nice range and we would love for more people to come out and take advantage of it. It’s also ADA accessible, which means it accessible to people in wheelchairs and people who may have problems walking. I am more than willing to help them too. I will also help boresight a rifle and we have classes people can take too.”

Jocelyn and Kevin Ord, of Farmington, were out on the range doing a little target practice recently. Jocelyn said they discovered the range when they were out on the bike trail.

“We didn’t know it was here and he is an avid shooter, so we were really excited,” said Jocelyn. “It’s a beautiful facility and it’s a shame it’s not used more. It is a fantastic facility and the times we have been out they have been very safety-oriented, plus they are patient with me, an inexperienced shooter.”

Kevin, left, and Jocelyn Ord, of Farmington, discovered the Sgt. Darrell S. Cole Memorial Shooting Range while riding on the bike trail. Jocelyn is learning to shoot.

Kevin, left, and Jocelyn Ord, of Farmington, discovered the Sgt. Darrell S. Cole Memorial Shooting Range while riding on the bike trail. Jocelyn is learning to shoot.

Jocelyn said they were riding the bike trail and they stopped when they saw the range. They have since come back and toured the mine and utilized the range.

“I hope more people use it,” Jocelyn said. “It needs to be supported and it’s my understanding they are going to expand it. I would like to learn enough to be comfortable handling a firearm. I tend to anticipate the shot, so I flinch a little bit. I am learning to relax when shooting.”

Jocelyn said Kevin was in the military and is a careful and knowledgeable great teacher/coach. Kevin said Jocelyn has been shooting quite well.

“It just a beautiful facility and it is kind of spoiling me actually because it is so nice,” Kevin said. “We are in the country and we have neighbors close by, along with a dog that is sensitive to shooting. This is just a great place to come out — $6 is a cheap hour for entertainment to shoot. The cost is low and it’s just a really nice facility.”

Kevin said there aren’t many places he can shoot 100 meters and he likes the target shooting more than hunting. He said he even reloads his own ammunition and it is fun to see the results of his project.

“Especially since it’s something I can tweak with adjusting powder charges and adjusting the depth of the bullet,” Kevin said. “They are shooting really well for me at 50 meters. I will find out how well they do at 100 meters.”

Ron Haney came out to the range with several handguns for some practice shooting. He said he had been out to the range three times last year. He had moved from Bismarck, but since he was in the area he decided to stop by for a little target practice.

Ron Haney does a little target practice with several handguns.

Ron Haney does a little target practice with several handguns.

“This range, as far as I am concerned, is as good as your going to get,” said Haney. “I just can’t believe more people don’t use it. They just aren’t aware it’s here. It’s a very safe range and I like it. I’d recommend it to anybody.”

Haney stressed you can’t get any safer than this range.

The Sgt. Darrell S. Cole Memorial Shooting Range is open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursdays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information on the call 573-330-5289 or visit their Facebook page, Sgt. Darrell S. Cole Memorial Shooting Range, at https://www.facebook.com/SgtDarrellSColeMemorialShootingRange/ or visit their website at https://bit.ly/2sCafQ5.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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