SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) is looking at properties in Northwest Arkansas for its flagship gun range.
According to a study by the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, nearly 30 million Americans ages 6 and up participated in hunting or target shooting in 2021.
"We are currently looking for the right piece of property to develop to develop a world-class shooting facility," said Grant Tomlin with AGFC. "We're in the initial phases of looking at these trying to weed out the ones that don't necessarily work for us because of, you know, some terrain issues or other concerns that we have, but it's going good."
According to AGFC's brochure for the range, it would include pistol and rifle ranges, a sporting clays course, a 3D archery course, trap and skeet fields, RV hookups and a range clubhouse.
"There's usually tournaments of some type every weekend at these larger ranges across the country," Tomlin said. "So you're gonna have hotel, restaurant gas station, you're gonna have a very large economic impact for that part of the state because of this facility."
Adam Maris is the owner of Gravette-based Spring Valley Rod and Gun Club.
"I think benefits all businesses in that realm because it just raises awareness and participation in that activity," Maris said. "I would use the kind of comparison of a rising tide lifts all boats meaning the more people that get into the outdoors, sportsmen and women not only have an Arkansas but you also bring in tourism dollars from this."
The only thing left now is to find 150 acres of flat land in an already booming Northwest Arkansas.
"We're gonna do some, some stuff to reduce the noise as much as possible. But it's going to be a gun range," Tomlin said. "So there's going to be noise. You know, there's also going to be, you know, traffic, when we have these large competitions that come in. Once we identify the property, it could take up to a year to actually close on the purchase, and then move forward with construction."
Tomlin says this will also help with their youth shooting sports program, as Northwest Arkansas 5th through 12th graders currently don't have a range in the area.
"We have a lot of kids involved in that program in that part of the state that they don't currently have a good safe place to practice," Tomlin said. "Also for us, it's a first step to maybe getting these people converted over to hunters and anglers that normally might not do that."
Tomlin says their search for properties will last a couple of months and they invite any more land proposals for the range. You can visit nwarange.com to enter your proposal.