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Facility closing in on opening day

Emery County Progress reporter

Members of the Castle Country Economic Development Summit committee stand under the patio at the service building in the newly erected Castle Gate Town, a cowboy shooting venue at the North Springs Shooting Park and Recreation area. The shooting range is on track to open to the public sometime in May.

On the south side of Carbon County, a new Castle Gate town has sprung up. It is a cowboy action shooting range that has been built as part of the North Springs Shooting Park and Recreation area.

The shooting range is located on Wattis Road, in what was traditionally a place where miners mined and cattlemen ran their stock.

As one enters the park, the first thing they see is the new log lodge building. This building will house the park managers headquarters. Scott Olsen, who will be on the premises 24/7, has been named the new range manager, The lodge also has several meeting rooms and other facilities.

Adjacent to the lodge are the long distance shooting ranges. There is a 100 yard, a 600 yard and a 1,000 yard range. Each of these ranges will have permanent and moveable targets at those yardages and many other varying yardages.

"This facility was designed with self-sufficiency in mind," said Olsen during a tour for the committee that is organizing the Castle Country Ecomomic Development Summit for this fall. "It isn't hooked up to any power lines, but is powered by a generator. There are no water lines here but we have cisterns to facilitate the restrooms and kitchens in the park."

Olsen also noted that the park will have a camping area that has 118 dry camping spots. And an RV dump is being installed.

Olsen explained that the shooting ranges for rifles, muzzleloaders and shotguns is located near the lodge. Further into the park is a law enforcement certification range and an archery range that is being installed. The archery range will have static targets as well as 3-D targets.

The final stop on the tour of the park was the new Castle Gate town. In many ways it looks like a set from old western movies with only the fronts of buildings being in the actual range area. There is a church, a livery, a saloon, a sheriffs office and jail and many other buildings. In this town, pop up targets are being installed.

Cowboy action shooting, which that facility is built for, is gaining popularity around the state and this facility will host many competitions and family outings as well.

"Public safety is our focus, along with family fun," said Don Burge, who was at the range working on targets and who is part of the committee that helped to design and organize the range. "In the competitions to be held here, one person shoots at a time and that is the only loaded firearm on the range during that activity. The shooter has two pistols, one rifle and one shotgun. We take John Wayne movie type scenarios for the shoots."

Ernie Bentley, president of the local cowboy action shooting club was also there working away.

"We have a really good chance to host the state championships here," he said. "This would bring in excess of 200 shooters to the area. In the future we may even apply to hold a regional competition here."

Members of these clubs dress in period costume and shoot single action firearms. Each also has their own stage name, such as Murderin' Maude, Fargo Kid, Dingo Man, and Star Gazer Man. Bentley also explained that the targets which will be used on the shotgun range were invented by a local club member. These targets are being installed on many other ranges in Utah and the surrounding states.

"We are receiving many calls about the 1,000 yard range as well," he said. "There are not many of those around and this one will be the best of all of them. We hope to cater to all disciplines of shooting. We also have plans to put in a museum focusing on the area. Our anticipated opening date is May 1."

The Castle Country Economic Development Summit committee was touring the site because they anticipate holding an evening event at the North Springs facility during the conference.

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