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08/13/19 - Shooting Sports Park open to the public

The new Crossville Shooting Sports Park is now open to the public.

“This is an idea that hatched from three guys sitting on the tailgate of a truck at a youth shooting event,” Kenneth Carey said during the grand opening and ribbon cutting Aug. 1. Carey serves as president of the nonprofit Crossville Shooting Sports Park board of directors. 

“Our facility is already a host training facility for state champions, national champions, and Olympic and world champions,” he said. 

Carey Garrison, a freshman at Stone Memorial High School, continues to earn accolades in shooting sports. She is the International Shooting Sport Federation World Champion, recently winning the junior women’s team world championship in Italy and the junior Olympics gold medal and junior national silver medal in Colorado. She will take part in the U.S. Olympic trials in September and March for a place on the 2020 Olympic team.

She’s been practicing at the park with other members of Cumberland County’s Youth Shooting Sports Team, one of the top teams in the state and nation. 

“This is a great opportunity for younger shooters to learn about the sport,” Garrison said of the facility. “And it’s beautiful.”

Her little brother Christopher, a sixth-grader, said the course is “amazing,” and he likes it’s close to home.

Alex Petty, a junior at Cumberland County High School, loves the facility. 

“It’s almost better than the state course,” he said. 

Petty took first in sporting clays the week before in the singles and team competitions at the Amateur Trapshooting Association Grand Championships along with Justin Reed, Noah Anderson and Corbin Moore, all members of the Cumberland County Youth Shooting Sports organization. 

Gavin Threet, who competes in pistol and rifle, said the course offers comfort, with large bays and no echoes. He graduated from high school last year but plans to continue competitive shooting in the Steel Challenge Shooting Association.

“Shooting sports and archery competitions has become popular across the country and especially across our state,” said Bobby Wilson, TWRA assistant director. “There has been a void and a need for places like this. This is just a fantastic place to fill that need.”

A $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife provided funding for the project and the city of Crossville sold the group 147 acres off Albert Frye Rd. for construction of the facility for $1.

The grant comes excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and arrow components authorized in the 1937 Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. Federal funds are appropriated to states, with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency administering the funds. 

“All that money comes back to you,” said Matt Clarey, TWRA hunter education and boating safety coordinator.

Construction on the project began in September 2017. 

Carey thanked a long list of supporters and volunteers, including the volunteer eight-person board of directors: Judy Smith, Valorie Cox, Randal Boston, Travis Threet, Jim Bledsoe, Patrick Garrison, Jim Petty and James Wattenbarger. 

Support also came from Tennessee Wildlife Federation, city of Crossville and Cumberland County, Carey said. 

The site includes a training facility that will be used by TWRA for hunter education classes and other community education events.

A one-mile loop offers 13 sporting clay stands. Individuals can bring their own ATV and the park hopes to have golf carts available for rent in the near future.

“It would be hard to walk it and carry your targets, firearm and ammunition,” said James Wattenbarger, one of the board members. 

There are five skeet and trap combo ranges and a European-style bunker trap that meets Olympic standards. A five stand offers an introduction to sporting clays, Wattenbarger said, adding it also offered a challenge to more experienced shooters. 

The facility also offers pistol ranges and a 200-foot rifle range. 

The 3-D archery course will include 20 stations. Wattenbarger said the Friends of the NRA provided grant funding for the full archery project. 

“It’s the largest one-time grant to a Tennessee organization,” he told the Chronicle. 

The National Wild Turkey Federation also provided grants for equipment at the park.

There are no membership fees for the Crossville Shooting Sports Park. Instead, patrons pay for their targets and use of the facility on each visit. 

Crossville Shooting Sports Park is open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Call 931-787-1246 for more information.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

By: Heather Mllinix - Crossville Cronicle