May 6th, 2021

Safety enhancement work begins at Shooting Sports Facility

By Woodard, Dale on November 11, 2020.

Bryan Litchfield, project manager for Facility Services for the City of Lethbridge, speaks to reporters in front of renderings of some of the safety enhancements at the Shooting Sports Facility operated by the Lethbridge Fish and Game Association. Herald photo by Dale Woodard

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

In this case, not seeing a little bit of blue sky won’t be a bad thing.

For those visiting the Shooting Sports Facility, it’ll make it even safer.

Construction on safety enhancements at the Shooting Sports Facility operated by the Lethbridge Fish and Game Association began this week.

The construction project, funded in part by the 2018-27 Capital Improvement Program, will expand the facility’s safety features to ensure the safe sporting and educational activities for the community.

“Fish and Game came to the City and put in a proposal they wanted to make it a safer, better environment for more recreation and get some more activities going down here,” said Bryan Litchfield, project manager for Facility Services for the City of Lethbridge at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Lethbridge Fish and Game Shooting Sports Facility. “We followed the concept of what they call a No Blue Sky. We’re going to build up the berms and put in backstops to trap bullets. We’re going to put in air baffles and ground baffles in so when somebody is standing at a shooting line and ready to fire all they are going to be able to see is a target (and) no blue sky. So no projectile is going to leave the range when this happens.

“We’re doing this on a multiple ranges, starting with the ones that have the most capability of leaving the range and working our way through. No matter where they’re going to be on a firing line, they’re not going to be able to see blue sky. So even if a ricochet hits the ground, it will hit an air or ground baffle and stop that projectile from leaving that range.”

The LFGA has operated a shooting facility for over 90 years in Lethbridge.

The main design and infrastructure in place was built in the 1980s and is used by over 1,600 LFGA members along with government enforcement groups, security forces as well as regional clubs and the public.

Enhancements under No Blue Sky will feature ground and aerial baffles, backstops, bullet traps, shooting stations, mobility access, target bases, sound attenuation and flags/wind gauges.

Allan Friesen, Lethbridge Fish and Game Association president since 1986, said there have been two cases of projectiles leaving the facility, once in 2005 and again in 2013.

“Obviously not acceptable, we don’t want that at all. So we’ve been planning for quite some time and reviewing all of the best practices in the world and asking how we can do any better than what we’ve done.”

Friesen said LFGA members are drilled on safe firearm practices and using the range in a safe way.

“They comply, (but) every once in a while you have somebody who makes a mistake, that can happen. Even if they make a mistake we don’t want a projectile leaving here.”

Friesen looked to the possibility of hosting more events in the future with the upgrades taking place.

“We’ve had provincial matches and national matches and a couple international matches here before and the number of facilities that are able to host those kinds of events are shrinking,” he said. “When we get this up to the highest level that exists, that will also expand our opportunity to bring more events into our community.”

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