Former Bakery Proposed For Indoor Shooting Range Taneytown Site Could Be First In Carroll

City Council Ponders Plan

December 12, 1990|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

TANEYTOWN - If a Frizzelburg gun enthusiast has his way, a former East Baltimore Street bakery could become the site of Carroll County's first indoor shooting range.

Glen Swain, a 33-year-old maintenance worker for Telemecanique, brought his proposal for a multilane shooting range to a skeptical City Council Monday night.

"I've been interested in this for a good while," he said. "An outdoor range is great, but all of them here are crowded out."

While informal, Monday night's presentation marks Swain's second pitch for his business, an idea he said is a natural in a county with 13 private, outdoor shooting ranges filled to capacity.

On Nov. 28, he was in front of the County Board of Zoning Appeals requesting a zoning waiver for an indoor shooting range along Bethel Road in Reese. The board is expected to have a decision by Dec. 28.

While Swain owns neither the building in Reese nor the former Baumgardner Bakery building at 12-14 E. Baltimore St., he is approaching public boards to determine their interest in an indoor range.

And, if his plan is accepted by the county or by this city, Carroll County would be home to only the third indoor shooting range in the entire five-county metropolitan area.

Before that becomes a reality, however, Swain has several obstacles, not the least of which is easing city fears of noise, stray bullets and safety.

"Obviously, this is something that has to be looked at," said Taneytown Police Chief Melvin E. Diggs. "I have no problem with something like that being set up. But it would have to be done with all the proper safety precautions in place."

Several City Council members asked Swain about his qualifications to run a gun range and his experience in the firearms business.

While he has been a hunter and gun-owner since his teen-age years, Swain said he has received no formal training -- none is required in Maryland -- and he is not a licensed handgun instructor.

He said he intends to take training should his indoor shooting range be approved. For the last year, Swain has sold firearms part time from his brother's business, Swain Supply Co. on West Green Street in Westminster.

"Everyone seems to have a basic problem with shooting ranges," he said.

"It's just a problem of acceptance. I know they have fears, but those fears will be taken care of."

About one in four Marylanders owns a handgun, according to statistics kept by the Maryland State Police. That would mean nearly 32,500 Carroll residents own handguns.

And, police and gun experts say those people need a place to practice and hone their skills.

"You just can't go in your backyard and go shooting anymore," said 2nd Lt. Otis Trost of the Westminster state police barracks. "I guess the indoor way is going to be the up-and-coming way."

In the Baltimore area, at least, the up-and-coming way has a way to go -- Harford and Anne Arundel counties are the home of the metro area's only two indoor ranges.

Gunpowder Indoor Pistol Range has been in operation outside of Bel Air, Harford County, since 1986, while Severn's On Target Inc. range has been open for eight years.

Zoning officials in both counties said neither range has generated any complaints of noise, violence or safety problems.

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