Tucked off Water Works Road in McAlester, just past Youth Lake, is a shotgun shooting range where gun enthusiasts have enjoyed skeet shooting for a long time.
The range is now closed, however, due to vandalism. That repeated vandalism of property has proven too much for the Lake Eufaula Rod and Gun Club to keep up with.
“It’s a shame,” said Bill Nicholson, an administrative member of the club.
Nicholson said the club has always coped with vandalism at its ranges. However, recent vandalism at the range off Water Works has officials calling it quits.
“We spent somewhere north of $5,000,” Nicholson said. “We charge $40-a-year for membership. We finally decided to say ‘hey, you guys you win. we are going to close it. I give up.’”
Nicholson said some time last month a vandal(s) broke into the gun range when it was closed. The perpetrators used a four-wheeler and left a trail of destruction.
“We keep Blue Rock clay targets under lock and key in a portable container like they use to ship stuff overseas,” Nicholson said. “We had guys shoot holes through this container. That was bad enough. Then they use bolt cutters to cut the lock, they get in there and destroy the blue rock (clay targets). These things say ‘fragile as eggs’ on the boxes. They did the most damage they could. They carried the box outside, dumps them and breaks them on the infield.”
Jerry Kleager is also an adminstor for the club. He said the clay targets were not cheap.
“We probably lost 70 pallets at $17.50 a pallet,” Kleager said.
The vandals caused thousands of dollars in damage overall. Along with the clay targets, Nicholson said the vandal(s) rammed their four-wheeler into a picnic area at the range and destroyed it. He also said it appears a chain was tied around the high house of the shooting range in an attempt to break the door. He said concrete was destroyed in this process, but it did not look like they got into the house.
The damage is just too much for the club to handle. Nicholson said it was not an easy decision to close the range for good.
“We got one guy who goes out there and he has four children,” Nicholson said. “He is a vet, received an injury in Afghanistan and walks with a cane. He is really good with his kids. He takes them out there and shoots. He brought every one of them a shotgun. He is teaching them to shoot clay targets. He is teaching them safety and responsibility. He can’t take his kids out there anymore.
“You have lawless (offenders) who wants to destroy stuff. I don’t get it,” Nicholson said.
Kleager said he doesn’t know what to do besides close the shooting range.
“We can’t hire someone to just stand out there,” Kleager said. “We don’t have the money.
“It’s really disappointing someone would do this.”
The gun range land is rented from the Choctaw Nation and it is the responsibility of the Choctaw Nation Tribal Police to patrol the area, according to Nicholson. A call to the Choctaw Nation Tribal Police was not returned.
While the shooting range on Water Works Road is closed, the club still operates the shooting range on North Hickory. It does not have skeet, but there is plenty of room for target shooting.
Contact Parker Perry at email@example.com