Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Shooting range near completion

Airport site will provide cop service

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — The pros know one of the best shooting ranges in the Tristate will soon be completed in Northern Kentucky.

        The range at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will open this spring. It will provide relief for police agencies, many of which were left scrambling to pay for shooting privileges at private facilities after the airport's old range was taken two years ago by DHL Worldwide Express for its new shipping facility.

[photo] Officer Matt Lambert and Cpl. Dale Gentry of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport police practice shooting at the airport's outdoor range.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “I think it will be a premier facility when the range is opened,” said airport Police Chief Chuck Melville. “It is arguably the best outdoor range in the Tristate.”

        The airport range will be free to police agencies but closed to the public.

        The range, about 90 feet deep and 80 feet wide, was designed by an Atlanta company. It is surrounded by berms on three sides and is covered by a iron structure supporting a series of baffles designed to stop stray bullets.

        The bullets are shot into a slope that is covered in shredded rubber. It is designed to absorb the shock and prevent lead from bul lets from seeping into the ground water. Dirt from the airport's old range, contaminated by lead, was declared hazardous and shipped away.

        The new range replaces the 25-year-old range that closed two years ago. That range was used by about 50 police agencies from Kentucky and Ohio. Police agencies have had to improvise their training sites.

        Kenton County police have been practicing at a shooting range on a Crittenden wildlife refuge. Florence police have used the Fraternal Order of Police range in Lawrenceburg, Ky.

        Kenton County Police Capt. Ed Butler said finding other gun ranges has been a bigger issue than having to pay for shooting privileges.

        “Luckily, we have good working relations with Lawrenceburg, Ky., police,” said Florence Police Chief Tom Kathman. “We use a range owned by the FOP there.”

        He said there were some drawbacks. The department has had to pay $350 per year to use the Lawrenceburg range, and it takes about 30 minutes to drive there.

        Chief Melville and airport spokesman Ted Bushelman said they didn't know how much the new range cost. Its construction, the majority of which was paid for by DHL, was included in a nearly $1 million land excavation contract.

        Although it might sound odd to have a shooting range at an international airport, a facility the government tries to keep weapons out of, airport officials said it has been an ideal location.

        The first shooting range at the airport was built when the facility's law enforcement was transformed from a security guard force to an official police force.

        Letting police agencies use the range for free earns goodwill from local governments, Chief Melville said. The airport also has large expanses of open land ideal for a shooting range. And the sound of the guns is overpowered by jet aircrafts.

        “You've got to train your police officers,” Mr. Bushelman said. “That is required by law. And this range is only open to law enforcement officials. The average Joe can't use it.”

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