This past year has been a busy one at the Oregon Trail Shooting Range off 2 1/2 Mile road north of Chubbuck.

Due to some concerns expressed by landowners adjacent to the shooting range, the Gate City Sport Shooting Association, led by then-President Tom Dickman, commissioned a study that was conducted by TRS Range Services.

TRS Range Services advises the FBI, the U.S. military, the Idaho National Guard, the Department of Defense, the Meridian Police Department, the Miami-Dade Police Department and many others on range development and safety. Based on TRS’s recommendations, modifications to the main firing line were designed.

New berms, 12 feet in height, at 25, 50, 100 and 200 yards were built. Instead of a berm at 380 yards, a bay was cut out and the dirt was used to build a berm between Gullyville (the cowboy shooting area) and the main firing line, allowing both areas to be used at the same time during cowboy shooting events.

Additional work to be completed in the next two months includes leveling the floors of the shooting bays, providing higher sides and back stops and lengthening the 50-yard bay to 100 yards.

In addition, the shotgun area will be relocated to avoid some problems with clay pigeon debris landing on private property and to assure the property owners that his employees can approach the property line without any safety concerns.

Contrary to a report in the Idaho State Journal on Nov. 2, 2016, there are no plans to extend the range past the 380-yard bay that was cut out.

Tom Dickman took on an enormous responsibility and deserves the gratitude of all the Gate City Sport Shooting Association’s membership for the tremendous amount of work he did to get these projects started between January 2016 and June 2016, before accepting a position and moving to Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Many of the renovations have been completed and the remaining projects should be completed as weather permits, according to new President Chuck Howell.

The Gate City Sport Shooting Association currently has over 1,600 members and over 5,000 people have used the range in 2016, as of the end of October. Its heavy use is due to the range being able to accommodate a wide variety of shooting disciplines.

The range is a family-friendly facility and also hosts competitions in three-gun and cowboy action shooting. In addition, the range is available by appointment for Boy Scout troop activities and hunter safety programs. Those who like long-range shooting can fire out to 380 yards. Just about any firearms training course can be scheduled with the range officers by certified firearms instructors.

One of the services planned for the near-future is to have trained range officers available during the months of heaviest use. These range officers will be members of the Gate City Sport Shooting Association and will volunteer their time. Specific information on this service by club members should be available this coming spring or summer.

If you haven’t been to the Oregon Trail Gun Range recently, have a member bring you to see what is new. Or you can join the Gate City Sport Shooting Association, get your own key to the facility and come join with other like-minded shooters in the enjoyment of the shooting sport of your choice.

Smokey Merkley was raised in Idaho and has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He was a member of the faculty of Texas A&M University for 25 years. There he taught orienteering, marksmanship, self-defense, fencing, scuba diving and boxing. He was among the first DPS-certified Texas Concealed Handgun Instructors. He can be contacted at mokeydo41245@hotmail.com.