AUGUSTA — A plan to build what officials describe as a state-of-the-art outdoor shooting range with numerous new features meant to improve safety in a pit in the Summerhaven area of Augusta is going before the Planning Board.

The proposal would reconstruct entirely and expand an existing shooting area on state-owned property off Sanford Road and turn it into what officials said would be the first of its kind in New England, a semi-enclosed, so-called “no blue sky” design.

The plan, which will be taken up Tuesday by the Planning Board, would include installation of 25-yard and 100-yard shooting areas lined by concrete walls with overhead concrete baffles and include ricochet catchers. All of the measures are meant to help prevent bullets, and noise, from escaping from the range.

“From the very beginning, this was designed to be safer, quieter, cleaner and, frankly, more accessible,” Diano Circo, the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife’s chief planner, said in an interview Monday. “It’s the first of its kind in New England. These are the safest designs we’ve been able to find.”

The rebuilt Inland Fisheries & Wildlife range in a relatively rural part of the city, where numerous sand and gravel pits are located, also would be accessible by people with disabilities.

It would include a new archery range and new, bigger dirt berms for the shooting areas; and it would clean up lead casings from soil contaminated by lead by years of shooting at the property, which was an informal shooting range for many years before the state formalized a shooting setup there in 2012.


The range briefly closed in 2016 because of concerns about noise from shooting there and items, including appliances, being shot up and left behind, before reopening under a plan that limited the range’s use to when a volunteer range safety coordinator is on hand to oversee the property.

Circo said topsoil at the site will be collected, lead casings will be filtered out of it, and the leftover soil would be used to build up new, larger earthen berms at the ends of the range, behind the target area.

Construction, if the project is approved by the city board, would be expected to start in the spring of 2018 and be complete by the end of the year, according to application materials filed by the state. The project requires a major development review, as a conditional use in the Rural River zoning district.

In application materials filed with the city describing the project, Circo describes a plan to build a state-of-the-art facility engineered to minimize the risk of projectiles leaving the range. It would have two 25-yard and one 100-yard firearms ranges, and an archery range with shooting distances 20 to 50 yards. The area where archers would shoot from would be covered by a canopy. There would be a total of 20 shooting positions on the firearms ranges and seven on the archery range.

Circo said the exact cost of the project won’t be known until it goes out to bid. He declined to estimate the cost Monday, out of concern that could affect bidding on the work.

He said it will be paid for with federal money from excise taxes collected on firearms and archery equipment sales.


Schmidt Associates, an Indianapolis architectural firm that has designed similar shooting ranges elsewhere, is a partner in the project.

A letter to the city from Allen Jacobsen, senior civil engineer for Schmidt Associates, notes the new facility would be designed with a focus on safety and noise abatement. Noise measurements were taken both at the range and on Burns Road, where the home closest to the range is located — about 1,800 feet away. Additional noise measurements will be taken, after the project is complete, for comparison.

The board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed shooting range changes at its Tuesday meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the council chamber at Augusta City Center.

Board members also are scheduled to:

• Reconsider a proposal from Harold Warren Construction to add the ability to blast in a pit off West River Road to the company’s mineral extraction license. The board previously rejected the request, but the matter was ordered to be sent back to the board for additional review after an appeal was filed with the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

• Consider a minor development and conditional use review to allow the city to construct a facility which would use methane gas collected from decomposing garbage at Hatch Hill landfill to create electricity.


• Consider renewing a mineral extraction license for John Mulholland on Walter Road.

• Consider renewing a mineral extraction license for MainEx on Riverside Drive.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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