published Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Chattanooga police shooting range planned behind 11th Street precinct

Officials with the Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office outlined plans today for a $4 million indoor firing range at the old farmers market off 11th Street.

The new facility, with 25 shooting lanes, will replace the law-enforcement shooting range at Moccasin Bend. That property is becoming part of the Moccasin Bend National Park.

The city and the county will each put $1.5 million up for the new facility behind the Chattanooga police precinct on 11th Street. Additional construction costs will be covered with grant money.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Allen Branum with the sheriff’s office and Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd spoke to Hamilton County commissioners this morning, fielding a number of financial questions about “hidden charges” related to the project and operating costs.

The indoor range will require a sophisticated ventilation system and a filter and auger containment system to collect spent lead and brass.

“I’m a strong believer in this working,” said Commissioner Joe Graham. “It almost sounds like — without all the numbers — we’re writing a blank check.”

Branum said officials had scoured the area for another outdoor range site, but he believes “the days of shooting into a [earthen] bank are pretty much over.”

Dodd and Branum said they hoped to offset some operating costs by charging other local law enforcement agencies to use it.

The new range won’t allow for long-distance firing practice, but it will allow trainers to simulate conditions like storms, darkness and flashing lights.

Dodd stressed the need for quick action, saying that the grant for construction will expire soon.

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