South Metro Gun Club Project

The meeting minutes from the MTA December Board Meeting make mention of a project that I have started to work on. The idea of a mini-Sparta type club in the metro area was an idea that came out of a discussion I had with State Representative Dave Dill from Duluth nearly three year ago. At the time, we were discussing ways that state financial help might be generated to help insure the Alexandria Shooting Park would remain a viable option for our state shoot for years to come. The idea would be to form a tax deductible, non-profit organization that would receive state financial assistance to purchase Alexandria Shooting Park keeping Alex as a shooting facility forever. I quit working on this concept when the owners of Alexandria chose to retain ownership.

It was after the recent deal between the state and the University of Minnesota for the football stadium that I begin to think the plan had merit, but for a different location. The “U” was trading to the state a large tract of land south of Rosemount, MN in exchange for the stadium money. The idea was to see if we could create a tax exempt, non-profit organization and get both financial assistance from the state as well as a long term lease on enough of the property to create a mini-Sparta facility that would accommodate not only trap shooting but every other viable shooting sport as well. Skeet, sporting, bunker trap, as well as all forms of competition rifle and pistol shooting would be part of the plans.

I first felt it would be important to discuss this with members of the Alexandria ownership group before proceeding. I met with two of the individual owners and discussed the concept and received positive feed back from both of them. I then was allowed to present the concept to the entire Group of Six board at one of their board meetings. They, as I do, felt the idea of such a facility would be great for the shooting sports in Minnesota. It was their input that if it could be built as presented, they would support it and felt they could successfully downsize the Alex facility leaving their investors satisfied. Next, I presented the concept to the MTA Board to determine if they would support my actions and allow me to speak on behalf of the Board regarding this project. As the meeting minutes note, they unanimously agreed to have me pursue the project. MTA participation would eventually involve moving our state shoot to the facility, member fund raising, and possibly cash donations to help build the facility. All of these would have to be approved by the board at a future date before they could happen.

I would envision the shooting facility to require 250-400 acres depending on the terrain and features built into the park. For our purposes, twenty-five traps, two hundred camping spaces and a club house equal to or larger then Alexandria’s would be required. The facility should also include eight to ten skeet fields and one or two large sporting rings. A bunker trap would help insure we met the deductible non-profit requirements of the IRS. Rifle ranges up to 300 yards as well as pistol ranges to include action pistol shooting would be included. The club house would likely feature one or two designed training rooms for youth firearms training as well as club meetings. A firearms walk through course would also be part of the plan. The club would likely be open for business six days per week and would require a full time manager.

A question sure to be asked is when this would all happen? First and foremost, the chances of this happening at all are likely less than fifty percent. Much hard work will be required before this plan moves forward. Other states have, however, recently completed or approved much grander projects; Sparta, IL and Las Vegas, NV are prime examples. A second question would likely be, why leave Alexandria? The only thing prompting the thought is location. There is a saying in real estate that value is related to three things, location, location, and location. The Alex facility is a great facility and it is run by as good of a group as you’ll find anywhere. If we could move this facility to the south metro along with the fine people that work their butts off to put on our state shoot, it would be great. Unfortunately this can’t happen. If it could, we would find ourselves with a site almost perfectly located for our state wide shooter distribution and we would find a bevy of motels with easier availability and more competitive pricing.

In closing, I want to again emphasize that the chance of this idea actually coming to pass at this point is less then fifty percent. If it does happen, it will take several years. For these reasons, the board has determined we need to continue to work on a lease extension with Alex that contains an out if such a new facility would come available. If it happens that this project takes life, great. If it doesn’t, we will still have one of the best state shoot venues in the country with great people running our shoot at Alexandria. I will post additional updates as this project takes shape or is unsuccessful.

If you have questions or comments, I would be happy to respond. Markz@pride-eng.com or you can leave a message at 763-427-6250 ext 302 and I’ll call you back.

Mark Zauhar

President Minnesota Trap Shooters Association