Camden sheriff opens firing range
By Chris Day
Monday, November 5, 2018
CAMDEN — Ready on the left? Ready on the right? Ready on the firing line.
That’s a shooting range command that Camden deputies no longer have to travel outside the county to hear.
The Camden County Sheriff’s Office will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Thursday for its new shooting range, located at 480 N. Trotman Road.
In past years deputies had to travel to firing ranges outside the county to update their annual shooting qualifications. A new Camden range has been in the planning for years and to finally have one of their own is huge for deputies, their boss said.
“It’s a big deal for the Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Rodney Meads said Sunday. “We need to have a place to shoot.”
The county is leasing the land on which the range sits for $1 a year from Michael McLain, a former county commissioner. The contract includes an automatic renewal after 11 years, Meads said.
Additionally, the range was built by sheriff’s office personnel using surplus military construction equipment, like a bulldozer and a road grader, which helped to keep construction costs low, Meads said.
“So the expense to the county was minimal,” the sheriff said. “It’s going to be good for a very long, long time.”
Meads did not know off hand the total cost to build the range but he said the most expensive cost was the fencing, which was about $25,000.
The range is about 30 yards wide with enough firing lanes to accommodate several shooters at once, said Meads, adding his department began using it in October.
“It was just great,” he said of the new range. “We can have a lot of people shooting at one time at different stations.”
The range also is about 100 yards deep, allowing deputies to also train on long arms. In addition to their annual qualifications, the proximity of the range affords deputies additional opportunities to hone their shooting skills throughout the year, Meads explained.
“We have to be ready and practice makes perfect,” he said.
The range is in large part the result of the work of former Sheriff Tony Perry, who retired last summer. In May 2016, Perry sought and received special use permit approval from the Camden Board of Commissioners.
“I cannot express how important this is to our office,” Perry told commissioners at the time. “It's high time we get our own range. This is a project we've been working on for the last two years.”
At the time McLain was chairman of the commission board. He recused himself from both the permit discussion and subsequent vote because he owns the land.