A popular Front Range venue has entered the public trust in a continued effort to meet demand for recreational shooting.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently announced acquiring Colorado Clays Shooting Park in Brighton, east of Barr Lake State Park.
A news release credits Clays' "state-of-the-art rifle and pistol range," complete with a heated, semi-enclosed canopy with 25- and 100-yard lanes. The park's name is a reference to its variety of clay targets, including pigeon, skeet and trap. Last year, more than 4 million clays were tossed among some 30,000 customers, according to the release.
The $6.32 million acquisition — paid for in grants from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (90%) and lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado — comes as CPW has made "safe, responsible and accessible recreational sport shooting" a top priority, said agency spokesman Jason Clay.
Local, state and federal land managers across the Front Range have raised concerns about growing populations coinciding with rising reports of unsafe shooting in woods and grasslands. In Southern Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service has cited fires, trash, obliterated trees and "close calls" between people and stray bullets as reasons for developing formal ranges.
Representatives of the Northern Front Range Recreational Sport Shooting Partnership have expressed similar interest. That partnership includes CPW, along with Boulder, Larimer, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties.
Identifying and developing ranges "is certainly a challenge," Clay said.
CPW plans to run Clays Shooting Park as a state recreation area. For 2022, it will be run by a concessionaire, with staff transitioning over. "So it will operate very similarly, if not identical, to how it has operated in the past and will look a lot like a private business," Clay said.
He said CPW will receive a portion of revenue while future management is determined. Clay hinted at a scenario similar to Cameo Shooting and Education Complex near Grand Junction. CPW owns and operates the complex, which charges for shooting hours and targets.
"The expectation is that on-site revenue and retail sales will pay for operational costs and materials," Clay said.