The site is a project of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, a national nonprofit organization that promotes shooting skills among civilians.
The program last week began inviting contractors to inquire about earth-moving work at the site, according to the CMP’s deputy chief operating officer, Mark Johnson.
The program has one of its two offices in Anniston, as well as a store that sells surplus rifles such as the M1 Garand. Those sales fund the CMP and its training projects. The group receives no funding from the federal government.
The CMP also has an indoor air-rifle range in the Golden Springs area. The Talladega County site, however, will offer a 600-yard rifle range, another 100-yard firing range, a 50-yard pistol range and several shotgun stations, in which shooters will fire at clay pigeons. According to Johnson, CMP officials also plan a clubhouse and pro shop.
Johnson said the range will host national competitions as well as quarterly, monthly and weekly matches. But he stressed that the range will still serve as a place for residents to learn and practice marksmanship skills.
Johnson said CMP officials plan to establish a club for the range, but residents can use the site on a daily basis, too.
He said he did not yet know what the rates the CMP will charge, saying the program must strike a balance between accessibility to the public and maintaining its standards for gun safety.
“It’s a careful mix we’re working on,” he said.
Johnson said each of the ranges will be staffed with safety personnel who will require participants to complete a training course for each of the different types of firearms used on the ranges.
“Nobody on our property will be turned loose to shoot as they like,” he said.
People like Dennis DeMille believe the shooters coming to the new range from all around the globe will provide a boost to the area economy.
“It is gonna be one of the most state-of-the-art ranges in the country, if not the world,” he said.
DeMille, the general manager of Creedmoor Sports, a company that manufactures competitive shooting gear, said the new range is the primary reason his company moved to Anniston from Oceanside, Calif.
Johnson said CMP officials chose the site for the new range, on Turner’s Mill Road about 2 miles from the Talladega Superspeedway, because it was secluded enough for their purposes, but close to Interstate 20.
Johnson said CMP officials considered land at McClellan for the range. However, all of the property suitable for the project needed to be cleared of possible contaminants or unexploded ordnance.
Robin Scott, executive director of the McClellan Development Authority, said the missed opportunity was not a funding issue. The MDA received $19 million in federal cleanup funds this year, he said.
The problem was time. According to Scott, MDA officials have focused cleanup efforts to the south near Iron Mountain Road, while the properties suitable for the CMP’s range had not yet been investigated to identify possible contaminants or unexploded ordnance.
Scott said the process of clearing land at McClellan can often take more than a year, too long for CMP decision makers.
Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.