City council to vote on indoor gun range grant use
Chattanooga police and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office are targeting an indoor shooting range for training officers, but say if city council doesn't act fast, they may lose a big chunk of the funding for it.
At stake is a $1,000,050 in federal money that was granted three years ago to pay for certain features for the shooting range. It runs out come July, so city and county law enforcement hope council votes in favor of entering into an agreement with a contractor to build those features with that soon-to-expire grant money.
"It's one of those deals, it was federal money, we're up against the wire. We either use it, or lose it," Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said.
So far, the up and coming range is just a concrete foundation. The 'Old Can Warehouse' was leveled on East 12th Street behind CPD's Onion Bottom Precinct.
The city and county will each pitch in $1.5 million to build a 25-lane indoor range modeled after one in Rossville.
"A lot of behind the scenes that require special things. It's not just putting a berm down range and firing into it," Sheriff Hammond said.
They plan to use federal money, just over a million dollars, for targeting systems and a bullet trap.
"Critical piece of equipment, in that it's a safety concern on how it catches the shots fired down range. You don't want to ricochet. You want a safe way to stop that bullet," Sheriff Hammond said.
But, that's if council votes to secure that grant money to pay for it, before it expires in a couple weeks.
"If we don't move fairly quickly on this or if we don't get another extension, we stand to lose $1,000,050," Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd said in a January interview.
Both agencies have been anxiously awaiting an indoor range. They've been using an outdoor facility at Moccasin Bend, where weather and lighting can hinder training.
The National Park Service plans to take that land over.
Sheriff Hammond says the indoor range not only opens them up for 24/7 use, but also to create different environments where officers can shoot.
"We can drive a car in there, turn the blue lights and all the strobes going and setup scenarios that could affect how the shooting occurs," he said.
Of course, it's more expensive not only to build, but to keep up. To prevent toxic levels of lead in the air, proper ventilation costs an estimate $75 an hour.
Sheriff Hammond says the goal to open the indoor range by next March is an ambitious one, but thinks it's doable.