The Spurwink Rod & Gun Club in Cape Elizabeth, which closed in mid-December to begin its safety upgrades, is expected to reopen next week.

From Friday, Jan. 9, through Sunday, Jan. 11, the club is seeking at least 15 volunteers to assist in general cleanup of the Sawyer Road property and to help build two of four rubber backstop berms at the far end of the shooting range to enhance safety.

According to the organization’s president, Tammy Walter, the club plans to reopen for business Jan. 12, depending on the weather and the number of volunteers the club can recruit to help this weekend. Those interested in attending the “work party” are encouraged to dress in warm clothing and bring basic hand tools, said Walter.

Last month, the 60-year-old facility closed temporarily in order for the club to construct three, 8-foot-tall, concrete shot-containment walls that form shooting corridors along the length of the range. Beginning Jan. 9, the new barriers will be coated with rubber padding to mitigate the sound of gunshots, said Mark Mayone, the club’s former president.

“As soon as the backstops are in, we will be shooting again,” Mayone said last week.

Next summer, if funds are available, Mayone said the club plans to install two additional backstop berms at the shooting range.

The gun club has been the focus of noise and safety complaints since the mid-1990s from nearby Cross Hill Road residents. Last March, the Town Council adopted the town’s first-ever shooting range ordinance that regulates the operation and development of new and existing outdoor shooting facilities in Cape Elizabeth.

In September, the club secured a $28,000 grant from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to address ongoing noise and safety concerns as part of a “No Blue Sky” bullet containment project that also includes constructing a set of baffles above the range next summer to contain stray bullets.

According to the ordinance, the gun club must comply with 100-percent shot containment, and noise levels must not exceed 65 decibels at the club’s property line if a home is within 1,000 feet.

In addition to the grant, the gun club has met half of its fundraising goal of an estimated $80,000 for additional safety improvements through raffles and other events, Mayone said.

Last fall, a concrete slab was poured at the shooting range for a new 35-by-14-foot shooting shed that will be built sometime this summer or next year, Mayone said. The club will also need about 1,250 yards of clean fill to level the shooting range terrain, as part of the safety improvements and to bring the range up to National Rifle Association specifications, he said.

According to Mayone, the club also plans to eventually construct an additional wooden shot-containment wall on the property that can be adjusted in size if necessary.

“Installing the wooden wall gives us options for our 50-meter target area,” Mayone said. “We can shorten, lengthen, or turn it easily, without the need of heavy equipment like the other (concrete) walls.”

In addition to a site plan, which the club submitted to the town in July, the club has completed a sound contour study, a wetland survey, and a safety study of the facility. A second, independent safety evaluation, requested by the Town Council in September, is in the process of being completed, according to Firing Range Committee Chairwoman and Town Councilor Caitlin Jordan. Jordan said the town is seeking bids from experienced shooting range safety evaluators.

In September the Town Council granted an exception to the shooting range ordinance to give Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal the authority to issue building permits prior to submission and approval of a shooting range license application, but only if a safety evaluation is performed and reviewed by the Firing Range Committee, Jordan said.

The exception was intended to allow the gun club to move forward with its safety upgrades this past fall rather than waiting to start construction next spring.

“We didn’t want to hinder safety improvements,” Jordan said, on behalf of the council.

“Additional input can’t hurt,” said Mayone, referring to the safety evaluation. “The club is wide open to suggestions.”

Club members have until April to meet the requirements of the town’s new shooting range ordinance and formally register the club. According to Mayone, as of last week, renovations at the shooting range were about 60 percent complete.


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