CMP opening shooting range in Talladega County
by SHANE DUNAWAY
The Board for the promotion of rifle practice and firearms safety, known as the Civilian Marksmanship Program, approved Monday the development of the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park in Talladega County.

“We are truly excited about developing a new facility where the CMP will geographically expand its mission of teaching respect for firearms, promoting gun safety and marksmanship principles,” said Mark Johnson, deputy chief operating officer for CMP.

The announcement of the new facility comes on the heels of the TOP Trails board of directors’ decision to abandon their plans for a similar style shooting range.

According to CMP Marketing Manager Steve Cooper, preliminary discussions between CMP and TOP Trails to build a park on property owned by TOP Trails were held, but were fruitless.

“We were unable to come to terms on an agreement,” Cooper said. “It just wasn’t the right fit for us.”

As a result, CMP purchased a 500-acre tract of land at 4797 Turner’s Mill Rd. in 2012 to begin pursuing the board’s vision of a state-of-the-art outdoor marksmanship facility.

The park, located a few miles south of Talladega Superspeedway, will feature a 50-station, 600-yard rifle range, a 100-yard sighting range, a 50-yard pistol range, a 50-foot pistol range and a range for trap and skeet shooting.

The ranges will have electronic targets installed — an addition Johnson said will be a step toward the future.

A classroom will be constructed to provide firearms safety and marksmanship classes to a variety of participants with an emphasis on youth.

Johnson said all shooters would be required to take firearms safety classes before using the range.

Another safety feature includes the presence of range officers who would be on duty whenever shooters are present.

An area for vendors will be constructed in order to meet the needs of range users.

Though no fees have been established for the range, CMP anticipates fees to use the range would cost $5-$10.

Cooper said the CMP currently operates indoor air rifle ranges in Anniston, Camp Buckner, N.C., Phoenix, Ariz., and Port Clinton, Ohio at Camp Perry, where it hosted both phases of the 2012 Olympic Air Gun Trials. Those qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team at the CMP Marksmanship Centers represented the nation at the London Games in 2012.

CMP also conducts national competitions at Camp Perry, Ohio, in which more than 5,000 competitors participate annually, and regional games events in Eastern, Central and Western states.

Johnson said CMP hopes to host quarterly rifle competitions to feed winner into the Camp Perry competition and monthly, quarterly and semi-annual competitions to build up to a national event held at the range.

When discussions took place to build the range, Johnson said board members initially wanted to complete the project in phases, but decided it would be more cost effective to build all park components at once.

The property currently has a fence, roads have been constructed and space for two test ranges of 200 yards and 600 yards has been cleared.

Cooper anticipates the project would be completed by the end of 2014.

Contact Shane Dunaway at sdunaway@dailyhome.com

© 2013