DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- The Becker County Sportsmen's Club completed an $18,000 upgrade of their shooting range barriers on in early October, more than doubling the size of the walls to nearly 14 feet.
Members of the club fundraised nearly $10,000 for the project, including a $2,000 grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation, which they hope will increase the safety of the range and make for a more enjoyable shooting experience.
"We increased the backstop height on the 25, the 50, the 100 and the 200-yard ranges and we also improved the pistol range," said Dave Friedl, the club's rifle and pistol committee chairman.
More than 3,000 cubic yards of soil was moved using heavy machinery to create new range mounds. Also, nearly 900 semi-truck tires were donated, and filled, with sand in order to complete the new barriers walls.
"These are majorly constructed, and they are really heavy duty," said Friedl. "Those walls are probably a good 6- to 6-and-a-half foot deep with tires and sand, plus the berm is extended quite a long ways behind them.
The barriers needed to be raised because of complaints from neighboring properties about projectiles overshooting their targets, club members said. The Becker County Sheriff's Office investigated the alleged overshootings and no evidence of bullets, or casings, were provided, the club said.
"There were residents downrange three-quarters of a mile, or even more sometimes, and there have been reports," said Friedl. "It's never been substantiated. You know, it's unclear."
Friedl said the NRA did an inspection of the range and said that they should build their backstops up. About eight or nine years ago, the club lowered the target floors on all their ranges, but also felt they could make the walls better, which led to the fundraising effort.
"It wasn't as good as we thought we could do," Friedl said, "so we designed a project and raised the money."
Friedl said he designed the barriers improvements, completed the construction plan and did all the surveying for the project.
The Sportsmen's Club consists of nearly 600 members, who have access to the range during normal business hours via their gated-entry, and pay an annual membership fee of $40. Lifetime memberships are available for a one-time fee of $400.
Les Froiland said he's been a member of the Becker County Sportsmen's Club for nearly two decades and thinks people will be excited when they see all of the improvements done to the club over the years.
"If you enjoy shooting . . . it's kind of a premier shooting range and there are a lot of people that aren't aware that it's this nice," said Froiland. "To me, it's just a fun place to come and shoot a little bit and . . . enjoy people that have the same interest as you."
The club will be open to the public Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., for the group's annual "sight-in" weekend, which gives nonmembers the opportunity to see the club and pay $5 to fire some rounds on the newly refurbished range.
Froiland said people who have never taken an interest in shooting before may discover, if they try it, that it's really a lot of fun.
"Don't knock it, unless you try it and get a little interest," said Froiland.
Groups members said they hope the new additions sustain the viability of the range and make the club more appealing to novice shooters in Becker County.