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A place to shoot revitalizes Lincoln Sportsmans Club

"It's a wind game," said Rich Debick as he described the key component of competitive shooting Saturday afternoon, June 13.*

Gusty cross winds gave members of the Lincoln Sportsman Club a chance to tackle that game during a demonstration of proper bench rest shooting and flag reading at the clubs new range on Wendell Weavers property, off Cooper's Lake Road east of Ovando.

Debick, who shoots competitively, brought three of his rifles along to give club members the chance to try their hand at shooting the precision firearms at a 100-yard target, during the club's first organized event at the range.

The Lincoln Sportsman Club has a long history in Lincoln as the Lincoln Gun Club. It was dormant for more than a decade after losing their old range facilities, but it was reborn and given a new moniker in 2012.

The club's return generated considerable excitement, but efforts to find an appropriate site for a firing range were met with a series of roadblocks.

"Over the years, they've been looking for a place to have a range, and never could come up with anything that was satisfactory for the distance we need, or the people around didn't want it there," said Weaver, a board member with the club.

Weaver looked to his family's ranch for an answer. Although the property has a conservation easement on it, he found they could use it as a range site as long as they didn't build any permanent infrastructure.

Weaver showed the other board members a site that could provide ranges up to 400 yards, and the site became the interim home for the club's range, while they build up their membership and continue the search for a more permanent, long-term solution.

"Up to that point we were just hemorrhaging members," Weaver said. "We couldn't keep people coming to the meetings. Now we've got more people in the club."

He estimated membership has almost tripled from 20 to 60 since word of the range got out.

Earlier this year, members of the club, including Weaver, Debick, Kevin Forkan, Dennis Hefti, Pat Bickel, Brian Patzer and others got to work developing the range. Debick built the bench rests and several of the members cleared off the bench area and set up railroad ties as a foundation.

Weaver said there are some requirements for using the range, First, he'd like to know a day in advance when members plan to use it. That gives him time to let his wife and his mother know someone is coming.

"The only other requirement is club membership," he said. "Members can bring a guest one time, but if they want to show up a second time they have to join the club."

Plans for more classes at the range are already in the works. A concealed carry class is slated for July 11 and 12, although a location for the classroom instruction portion of the course is still pending, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Weaver said they are also working on scheduling a woman's beginning gun class for late in July, but haven't nailed down a date.

For more information or to register for a class, call Weaver at 406-793-5808.

A family fun shoot using air rifles is also being considered as a way to get kids involved in shooting and teach them about gun safety.

For more information on club membership, call Debicks at 362-4183.*

* Details omitted in our print editions


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