Adamstown council hears shooting range proposal

By on August 14, 2019

A first-ever proposed outside police shooting range to be built in the borough was brought to council by the Ephrata Police Department on Aug. 6.

Ken Lockhart of the Ephrata Police led a pitch to council on the training range which they want to be in a wooded area between Route 897 and Main Street in Adamstown.

“This is an area we proposed simply because it’s wooded, it does have a hill on one side and with noise abatement, the trees will help with that noise of the firearms,” said Lockhart.

Lockhart said it will be designed with the National Rifle Association and Environmental Protection Agency standards.

“The NRA regulations has the side berms at 20’ tall and approximately 15’ to 24’ wide at the base,” said Lockhart. “That would provide cover so nothing could leave that range. The higher the berm, that’s going to help to keep the noise down.”

Noise is an issue, but there is also an environmental issue.

“Some kind of vegetative cover such as grass and lime will be spread to prevent lead from seeping into the ground,” said Lockhart. “After a certain amount of time, it goes by pH levels, the soil is going to have to continue to be tested and when it gets to a certain pH level, they suggest you remove that dirt, collect that lead, and put more dirt on and continue.”

Why is the EPD proposing this?

“Right now the biggest problem we face is we are strapped for time if we want to use the county range,” said Lockhart. “The range we use is of a neighboring police department and it’s their rules, their schedule, their time. With 34 police officers, it’s a struggle to get the schedules to fit, and I have to worry about that other police department bumping us.”

The term “active shooter” was mentioned a few times and Lockhart said he wants to train at their time using methods that could work more effectively with “what is going on right now in the world.”
“We would like to incorporate an EMS service and fire service into our training,” said Lockhart. “I’d like them to understand what we are doing and how we are training. If we are in an armed encounter and an officer, citizen, or even the subject is hurt, it gives EMS the opportunity to live-train with us and treat that person while we simulate with a gun shot wound or stab wound and they are doing that while we are training with live gun fire.”

Council member Cindy Schweitzer asked how training comes in to place when the proposed facility “looks like just straight shooting lanes.”

“We would add real-life obstacles,” said Lockhart. “We could add a vehicle into that situation.”
Lockhart said the majority of police officers killed last year were assigned to patrol and 82% of EPD officers go on patrol.

“They were killed either while they were on a vehicle stop, in their car, or some kind of interaction around their car, so obviously we would train to that real-life scenario.

If we have these active shooter incidents, our next training day we would develop a course where three officers may be shoulder-to-shoulder going down towards the threat area,” said Lockhart.
“How would you control your shots?” asked Schweitzer.

“The shots are always going in one direction,” Lockhart responded.

“Even in an obstacle course?” asked Schweitzer.

“Correct, I can control, as an instructor, where an officer is going to be facing,” said Lockhart. “With the range we use now, we are able to use only two lanes and sometimes that police department (Northern Lancaster Regional Police Department in Warwick Township) is constructing things that is either not safe to our standards or would not fit with our policies, so we have to train around what they have constructed on their range.”

Schweitzer asked what the distance is from the proposed range to the closest home.

“One hundred yards,” said Lockhart.

“That home is in East Cocalico,” said Schweitzer.

Council member Shad Lewis asked if East Cocalico would also be involved with this proposal.
“We certainly can, I would look to your leadership to see how you want to handle that,” responded Lockhart.

“We are shooting 16 days a year, but that does not include if a weapon malfunctions and I need to go out and test it, or another unpredictable event,” said Lockhart. “I can’t imagine us being out there more than 30 times a year in firing.”

Shooting times would be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Night shoots are required, but anything after 4 p.m., neighbors would be notified.

“Do you have any idea where the Horseshoe Trail is?” asked Schweitzer.

The Horseshoe Trail is a 62.4 mile moderately trafficked trail for hikers and horseback riders which begins at Valley Forge National Park and runs westward to the Appalachian Trail on top of Stony Mountain north of Hershey.

“I do not,” responded Lockhart.

Dave Matz, vice president, was concerned about friends or family of the EPD being on the range.
Lockhart said only employed officers will be permitted on the range.

Lewis asked if “rapid, repetitive, semi-automatic gun fire” will be heard.

“At some times, yes, you would,” said Lockhart. “It does sound like that when you have eight officers firing at the same time.”

Schweitzer asked if there would be a fence.

“I would like that,” said Lt. Thomas Shumaker, EPD.

Lockhart discussed safety features such as signs, flags, warning sirens, but did not mention a physical fence.

“Other instructors will be watching and assigned safety responsibility,” said Lockhart.

“The location concerns me because of the residents,” said Schweitzer.

“From a noise standpoint, with the trees and berm, this is about as good as it can get,” said council member Mark Bansner.

“What kind of investment are you looking at?” asked Schweitzer.

“I’m budgeting $40,000 for 2020 to start on this project,” said Shumaker. “I will continue to budget additional funds to improve the quality of the range moving forward.”

Four homes are in close proximity to the proposed range and some have horses. The area will be need to be cleared of trees for the range.

“Our goal is to build a quality range for our officers that is also safe and practical for the community,” said Shumaker.

Council did not make any decisions on the matter.

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