Because an indoor shooting range would be too costly and an outdoor range at Hoods Mill Landfill too controversial, the county Recreation and Parks Board agreed Wednesday to explore other sites for an outdoor range.
"We feel the shooting range is important enough to the public," board member Frank Ryan said.
The board asked the county Recreation and Parks Department's staff to work with sportsmen to identify potential sites.
Mr. Ryan, a park ranger at Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area, said that because more citizens are buying guns for protection, it's important that they have a place to learn to shoot properly.
"There's nothing more dangerous than a gun in the hand of person who doesn't know how to use it," he said.
Last month, after South Carroll residents objected to an outdoor range off Hoods Mill Road, west of Route 97, near the Howard County line, the county commissioners asked the board to investigate building an indoor shooting range.
About 125 people on both sides of the issue attended a June meeting to discuss the proposed range. Supporters said a public range would reduce illegal shooting; residents said they were concerned about noise and safety risks.
County park planner Bruce H. Dutterer said Wednesday that a block, bullet-proof, 25,000-square-foot building for an indoor range would cost $1.2 million.
"It sounds awfully high to me," Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said.
The commissioners agreed earlier in the week that the staff should explore other outdoor sites, he said.
It's important to work with the sportsmen to find out exactly what kind of shooting range they want, including the hours of operation, Mr. Ryan said.
Board member Joanne Neil said the question of how much noise a shooting range would generate needs to be answered.
Steve Weidman of Westminster, past president of the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association, said the group is willing to do tests to find out how much noise would be generated.
Mr. Ryan suggested several possible sites for an outdoor range -- a planned police training academy in Sykesville, Northern Landfill outside Westminster where some law enforcement agencies already use a shooting range for training, or the proposed Gillis Falls reservoir area.
Mr. Dell suggested a property off Md. 97 that is part of the state-owned Morgan Run, but not adjacent to the park.
Board member Romeo Valianti said noise should not be a reason to prohibit a shooting range, noting that living on East Main Street in Westminster is noisy.