POYNETTE, Wis. – For the first time in more than 20 years, southern Wisconsin target shooting enthusiasts will get a new no-fee public shooting range on public land when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources opens the Columbia County Public Target Range on July 24.
DNR Secretary Dan Meyer will cut the ribbon at 10 a.m. to welcome all to the new facility at the Mud Lake Wildlife Area just off King Road – about halfway between Poynette and Rio. County and local partners will be in attendance and the public is invited.
The facility features 100- and 50-yard rifle ranges, a 50-yard shotgun patterning range and a 25-foot pistol range; earthen backstops and side berms and overhead baffles in shooting sheds to ensure everyone’s safety.
“This fully accessible range is another great example of public-private partnership and teamwork,” Secretary Meyer said. “It will provide the public with an environmentally friendly and safe area to shoot and sight-in rifles and handguns.
Funding for the Columbia County range comes from the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds through the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration grant. The funds come from an excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. Matching donations came from private partners including the Columbia County Sporting Alliance and the Wisconsin River Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
“Promoting hunting, shooting sports and hunter safety is a long-standing objective within the Department of Natural Resources,” Meyer said. “This target range is one more element in meeting that goal.”
The facility’s construction completes the process initiated in 2013 to establish a public shooting range in Columbia County. The Mud Lake Wildlife Area site was selected from several other Columbia County wildlife areas following a lengthy process involving many partners in county and local government who formed a range advisory committee. The committee identified several possible locations then held public hearings, a public comment period and conducted surveys before making its final recommendation to the DNR. DNR accepted the recommendation and in collaboration with the Department of Administration, coordinated the contracting and construction of the range.