Apr 22, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff WriterThe excitement in Talon Arnhold's eyes as he talked about getting to shoot his single-shot .22 rifle was evident, even through the 5-year-old's safety glasses.
"I am going to shoot my rifle," he said. "My dad's gun is way bigger than mine and way heavier than mine."
Talon and his dad, Jason Arnhold of Riverton, joined about 30 others Saturday morning at the grand opening of the Riverton Rifle Range east of town on Academy Court.
It was Talon's first time shooting at a range.
"But we've gone (shooting) when we've been out fishing or driving on Burma Road," his father said.
Riverton Shooting Club president Jason Wilson said the range has been in the works for 15 years. The larger bumps along the road to completion involved finding property to accommodate a facility.
"In 2008, the city rezoned this land 'recreation' and gave us the opportunity to purchase it," Wilson said.
The club secured a grant from the National Rifle Association and in-kind funding from the City of Riverton.
"This is a 50-yard range, with 10 (shooting) positions," Wilson said. "We allow handguns, rimfires and traditional muzzle-loading equipment."
There are 8-foot dirt berms on the two sides of the range as well as an 14-foot dirt berm built behind the targets.
Saturday's open house, which was from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., included a raffle for a .22 pistol, range orientation, a membership drive, and shooting contests.
The first competition involved eight participants, mostly children, firing two rounds of 10 shots at vertical targets consisting of a paper bull's-eye and five metal silhouettes of various sizes. The smaller the silhouette, the more points awarded.
With ear protection on, safety glasses over eyes, and adults assisting the younger shooters, participants waited as Wilson checked to make sure everyone was ready.
"Shooters ready on the right?" he asked as competitors at the end of the shooting line held up their hands. "Shooters ready on the left? Fire at will."
Loud popping sounds and the smell of gunfire quickly filled the air. After the last shot was fired, shooters walked up to their targets to see how they did.
Callahan Healy, 11, of Riverton, secured 96 out of the 110 possible points in the first round with his Ruger .22 rifle.
"That may be the highest score we've seen," Wilson said.
The boy scored a 92 in the second round.
"Not too bad," the kid said, looking at his paper bull's-eye.
The shooting range is open to the public for a $5 day fee or $50 club membership. Wilson said a range safety officer must be on scene for visitors to be at the facility.
Jerry Davis of Riverton is in the midst of training to be a safety officer.
"I've been shooting my whole life. When you're from Wyoming, that's what you do," the 76-year-old said.
When asked why he felt having a shooting range was important for the community, he replied, "It's pretty self explanatory.
"You saw it out on the shooting line. The little kids are learning to safely handle a gun," he said. "You're always hearing and reading about kids and accidental shootings. ... These kids will learn safety."
Wilson also feels the range will benefit the area.
"This community is outdoor-oriented," he said. "There's been no facility here in the past. We would have to go to Lander or Dubois. ... Now we are going to be able to grow (shooting) activities."
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