Md. plans fixes for Sykesville rifle range

$2 million budgeted for police training center

June 22, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The state has decided to spend up to $2 million to fix the rifle range at its new law enforcement training center in Sykesville by adding a roof and side walls to keep errant shots and ricochets from endangering people at a nearby hospital and a driver-training track.

Questions about design safety at the rifle range were first raised by Shannon Bohrer, who was hired to run the firearms training center in April 1999, well after construction had begun. Modifications to the range became necessary after he and various law enforcement officers raised concerns about its safety last month.

Plans call for overhead steel plates covered with a fibrous baffling material to be installed at downward angles over the rifle range, much like a roof, which will deflect bullets downward, said Dave Humphrey, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of General Services (DGS). Angled side walls will be connected with 12-foot wooden walls, all covered in the same baffling material, to ensure no bullets escape, he said.

Work at the range, which measures 12 yards by 200 yards, should be done by spring, Humphrey said, and could cost as little as $1.3 million.

After the modifications are completed, a perimeter fence will be installed, said Leonard A. Sipes Jr., a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

A rifle range with an elevated firing line next to the larger, longer range will also be modified, said Humphrey. Known as the tower range, because shooters climb two stories and shoot downward, it will get a steel visor and the same kind of roof-like structure and walls will be added, as at the larger rifle range. Two range targets at 40 yards and 50 yards will be eliminated from that rifle range, he said.

Until modifications are made and all safety concerns are resolved, the rifle and tower ranges, part of the $4.6 million police firearms training center near Springfield Hospital Center, will remain closed, said Humphrey.

The firearms facility, off Raincliffe Road in Sykesville, is part of Maryland's $47.6 million law enforcement training center on 700 acres at the hospital center in Carroll County.

To acquaint members of the community with what will happen at the ranges when actual firing begins, the Police and Correctional Training Commissions will hold an open house at the firearms training center at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sipes said.

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