National and state shooters swoon over range, local gunmen remain skittish
Since opening in 2007, the North Springs Shooting Range has emerged as one of the most diverse and exciting venues in the western United States. In Utah, the range has become the premiere site for shooting competitions of nearly every variety. Locally, however, the state-of-the-art facility has faced consistent opposition, making the Castle County crowd one of the range's most elusive customers.
"I would love to see more local participation," said North Springs Shooting Range Master Scott Olsen, who is the large facility's only full time employee. "We still hear complaints about how far away the range is and how much it costs, but in my mind the benefits outweigh any problems by a long shot."
While Olsen has been dedicated to the sprawling gun and archery range since it opened, there is more to his contention than a sense of pride.
Since Camp Williams stopped allowing law enforcement officers to conduct their certifications along the Wasatch Front, North Springs has emerged as the venue of choice for officers seeking annual or even quarterly certifications. Military shooters have also become large supporters of the Carbon County facility as more than 300 shooters a year travel to North Springs to conduct supervised shoots at the range's Police Range.
As September begins, the range will host the Utah State Sniper Shoot, bringing a large party of champion caliber shooters and their families into the local economy. The competitors will use the 1000 yard rifle range, the 600 yard rifle range and work through uniquely designed tactical carbine courses.
In addition to the Police and Rifle facilities, North Springs features:
Shotgun and small trap venues
Four archery courses including 70 3-D Foam targets ranging from mule deer to a velociraptor
And a complete cowboy action shooting town
"At this point we have families that plan their vacation with our facility in mind," explained Olsen, who addressed the Castle Country Tourism Board on Wednesday morning. "In fact there is a gentleman from South Dakota who comes to Carbon County for 10 days every year just to shoot at the facility. Our gun range is his vacation destination."
As a destination the venue excels, camping facilities were included in the range's design and the tourism board has plans to include North Springs in the ever growing Castle Country Trails System ATV route.
According to Olsen, the range has become a facility which helps to drive the economic engine of Carbon County as those who come in for competitions tend to spend the night either in the range's camping facilities or in one of the area's hotels.
"When the large group shoots hit town, they tend to stay. It's more convenient and we reap the economic benefit," he said.
While the range caters to gun enthusiasts, it is also a welcome area for those who are new to shooting, said Olsen. Training and concealed carry courses are offered on a regular basis and the facility's staff also provides a wide variety of safety direction.
According to Olsen, a large group from the Department Of Child and Family Services recently visited North Springs to participate in training that included the proper use of trigger locks, proper home storage of a weapon and self protection.
"The range is a safe venue for the whole family," said Carbon County Tourism Director Shalee Johansen. "Education is available for those who need it and the facilities provide an amazingly wide array of options."
North Springs hosts weddings, family and class reunions, company parties, retreats and has special facilities for those who like to dress the part.
"People have a good time at the North Springs range," said Olsen. "And when people have fun they tend to come back. That fun and safe atmosphere is something we are always focused on."
To prove that point, in October the range's cowboy town will come alive with the undead. On October 11th, the range will host a zombie shoot sponsored by the Castle Action Shooters League, playing off the popular Walking Dead television series.