A concern for public safety prompts the West Virginia DNR to shut down the shooting range at the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area in Berkeley County. A private landowner complains bullets from the range are hitting his house, which sits about a quarter mile downrange from the target area.
The home is not a primary residence and is normally unoccupied. However, the concern for wildlife officials is abundantly clear.
"“We realize that this is a great inconvenience to many shooters, but we simply must deal with this issue of public safety,” said District Biologist Rich Rogers. "I have spoken with an NRA representative and numerous other callers during the past week expressing concern over the range closing. All of them understand the serious nature of this situation and recognize the need for our agency to take this responsible action."
Area managers say the problems are apparently being caused by shooters who place targets on top of the elevated mounds designed as backstops for bullets. The practice is illegal and the advisory of range rules is posted. However, some are ignoring those rules. Rogers says the problems also come from shooters rapid-firing semi-automatic weapons and allowing the muzzle to jump above the safety line.
"We hope to have the public shooting range at Sleepy Creek WMA reopened by this fall,” added Rogers. “This is a priority for our agency, given the number of shooters in the region.”