Retired businessman’s vision a multi-county shooting complex

Retired businessman’s vision a multi-county shooting complex
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Retired Union City businessman Steve Vaughn has a vision to build a trap and skeet complex to serve Obion and Weakley counties.
Vaughn has been using his backyard one-person trap range for training the University of Tennessee at Martin Clay Target Team since December 2006.
At that time he was asked to start the team by Dr. Jim Byford, dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.
A meeting was held last week at the Obion County Public Library to outline Vaughn’s plans for such a complex.
The meeting was sponsored by the Obion County Chamber of Commerce and was headlined by Vaughn, along with Steve Vantrease and Len Solomons of the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“I was really disappointed in the turnout, but we’re still determined to get this program off the ground,” said Vaughn, who met recently with the Everett-Stewart Regional Airport Board and proposed using a 12-acre site on the airport property to build the new complex.
Vaughn and others involved in the shooting range project are hoping to build a state-of-the-art shooting facility that would allow UTM to host intercollegiate competitions. The complex being planned would be capable of hosting International Trap and Skeet competitions, as well as American Trap and Skeet competitions.
The first step toward securing such a complex at the local airport will be working out an agreement with the airport board for the use of its land. If that hurdle is cleared, the next task will be securing an estimated $60,000 to build the first two of four combination trap and skeet fields. The second phase of the project will be building an International (Olympic) Trap bunker, at an estimated cost of $125,000.
The third phase of the project will be to build two additional trap and skeet fields for International Skeet competitions.
An access road and parking lot will also have to be built to allow access to the range. Also, a clubhouse will have to be built to serve as a target storage building and a Hunter Safety Education building, according to Vaughn.
His son-in-law, Mike Rinker, is also working on the project. He is the coach for the Obion County 4-H Trap and Skeet shooting team. The local 4-H team lost its shooting range when the local Goodyear plant shut down and now the group is practicing at Vaughn’s backyard range.
Vaughn and Rinker are hoping to secure the airport site or some other workable location for use as a trap and skeet shooting range. Vaughn said the airport property is not ideal, “but is the only option we have at this time.”
When asked about whether the Goodyear shooting range, which is being turned over to the county, could be used, Vaughn explained the Goodyear range wouldn’t work for trap and skeet shooting.
“We really need a good site to build this range and we’re keeping our options open at this point,” he said.
The shooting range is an ambitious undertaking considering the additional expenses for the cost of the land, preparing the site, utilities, maintenance and operational costs.
There are federal grants available to help finance the project, according to Vaughn.
“We only have to raise 25 percent of the money needed to build this facility because the TWRA will match that with a 75 percent grant using federal firearm and ammunition tax revenues,” he said.
He said the proposed facility will be used for high school and collegiate trap and skeet competitions, while also being accessible for use by area law enforcement agencies, ROTC, Boy Scout groups, 4-H clubs, Hunter Safety education, and local charities for fund-raising events.
Vaughn was involved in competitive trap shooting for more than 10 years before he agreed to serve as coach for the UTM shooting team in 2006.
Both Vaughn and Rinker, along with their assistant coaches, do this as volunteers because they believe getting young people involved in the shooting sports helps them develop positive character traits.
For more information about the project, Vaughn can be reached at (731) 796-0848
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 11.21.12

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