CHISHOLM TRAIL ANTIQUE GUN ASSOCIATION
Compiled by Phillip D. Lovchik, CTAGA Secretary
March 2003 (udated Winter 2008)
A committee, consisting of Wendell Godwin (chairman), Paul Buchanan and Fred Crandell began a search for land to purchase, on which to build a shooting range for the membership.
The committee reported that an eight-acre parcel of land, suitable for a range, had been located between Kechi and Benton, KS. (The address subsequently assigned to the property is 15090 E 69th St., Wichita, KS). The membership instructed Wendell to proceed with the acquisition. In anticipation of that acquisition, a Range Development Committee, consisting of Wendell Godwin, Loring Smith, Keith Bradford, and Fred Crandell, was formed to plan the development of the range. That committee solicited advice from various members and outside sources on how best to utilize the property to serve present and future needs of the members.
The Club contacted the Lyons Club in Benton to inform them and, and through their directory, the citizens of Benton about CTAGA and the range being planned near their town. This was a first step in achieving good relations between CTAGA and that town in succeeding years.
Fall & Winter 1974-75
The Range Development Committee considered many suggestions for use of the land being purchased, and eventually settled on a plan for a 100-yd formal range west of the creek and a primitive range on the east side.
Wendell Godwin reported that the deed on the property had been returned with all necessary signatures and that final closing had been scheduled.
As soon as the land purchase was finalized, earthwork was begun.
Oversight of the development was from the Range Development Committee, with the addition of E.D. Stone, who lent his engineering expertise to the task.
The range house was built, under the direction of E.D. Stone
From the outset the new range facility received frequent use by the membership, both as individuals and in organized shooting events. The first Kansas State Rendezvous was held at the range in October 1976.
Other than building a wooden footbridge to span the creek separating the main range from the "primitive" range to the east, few additions or changes were made to the range during these years. There were a number of proposals, some controversial at the time, which were either shelved or postponed.
A roof was built over the firing line in front of the range house, and a covered "porch" was built on the east end of the range house. Homer Kinch directed the project.
A committee was formed to look into the acquisition of adjacent land to the west of the range. Nothing came of this inquiry at this time, but it was made known to the owner that the club was interested in buying it. Follow-up inquiries were subsequently made in the following years.
Trespasses on the range property became a problem, necessitating the posting of no-trespass signs around the perimeter.
A separate road, with its own gate, was built into the range property. Previously a road and gate on adjacent property for use by oil tank pumpers was used.
A controversial change in the bylaws was passed, allowing members to shoot jacketed ammunition at the range to sight-in hunting rifles.
Following an invitation from the Club, NRA engineer Rob Hellenburg visited the range and made some recommendations regarding possible improvements as well as some changes being considered in the range layout. As it turned out most of the changes would have required considerable alteration in the topography and the general appearance of the range property and were not pursued. Some minor changes in the existing range were made, however, to enhance safety (e.g., ten-foot target frames were provided for use on the 25-yard line to ensure impact on the berm).
A water well was put in, and electricity was run to the range house, both under the direction of E.D. Stone.
To accommodate long-range shooting interests, a 200-yd. range was laid out on the east side of the range property. It was rarely used.
A vote was taken by the membership to forbid the use of jacketed ammunition in club events.
The club passed a rule stating that all firearms used in club matches must be chambered for an originally black powder cartridge.
Upon learning that the owner of the adjoining property was willing to sell, the Club authorized E.D. Stone and Wes Lumry to negotiate a purchase. In January 1991 they reported on the outcome of these negotiations. A special meeting was held to consider the offer, which was accepted. The purchase of an additional 72 acres was finalized in February. The Club now owned one-eighth section of land.
A cleanup of the new property got underway. Considerable scrap metal was removed, and the property was fenced.
A long-range Planning Committee, chaired by E.D. Stone, was formed to map out future developments for the property. The committee recommended the building of a storage building for the range to house the tractor, trailer and other equipment. No immediate action was taken.
Club President Dale Wood proposed that a new range complex be built on the new acreage. The Executive Board decided to take on the project, and a committee was formed to oversee its planning and completion. The Committee, chaired by Dale Wood, included Rodney Bruntz, an engineer, Phil Lovchik, and Clint White. The land was surveyed and plans drawn. The complex was to consist of a 200-yd rifle range, a 25-yd. pistol range, and a shotgun trap range. These would be laid out in such a way that all four ranges could safely be used simultaneously.
Zoning approval had to be obtained because of development limitations on what was considered agricultural land. After some delay, it was determined that the planned development involved less than the 50% allowed limit, and work went forward. During the summer and fall considerable earthwork was completed under the direction of Rodney Bruntz, and before the end of the year shooting was taking place on the 200-yd range.
Clint White oversaw construction of the trap range, which would feature an automatic wobble-type trap thrower in an enclosed trap house.
The Long Range Planning Committee, under new chairmanship of Brett Feaster, undertook a feasibility study of a long-running idea of building a multi-purpose building on range property, in which club meetings and other events could be held. The committee reported that construction of such a building that would meet all government requirements would be prohibitively costly.
To accommodate the popular cowboy action shooting events introduced by Ron Borhn, a old-west-town facade was built on the east side of the range property.
A concrete pad was poured on the north side of the range house and under the "porch" to relieve the problems of having to stand and load on a muddy and irregular firing line. E.D.Stone oversaw the project.
Rodney Bruntz proposed the addition of a covered, 14'x100' concrete slab, with poured concrete benches, for the firing line at the new 200-yd. range. He also proposed a covered concrete slab firing line be constructed for the 25-pistol range. The Board gave Rodney the go-ahead to plan and supervise the project.
Acting on a previous recommendation of the Long Range Planning Committee, a 24'x24' garage was built adjacent to the range house for storing range equipment. E.D. Stone oversaw the project.
The covered firing lines for the 200-yd. and 25-yd. ranges were completed. Graveled roads and parking areas for these ranges were added.
A proposal was made at a meeting of the membership to turn the unused land north of the berms into a wildlife habitat and possibly create a wetland with a pond. No action was taken, primarily because it was not deemed in the Club's best interest to be aligned with any government programs. It was felt that the unused land would naturally serve this purpose without any overt action on the part of the Club.
Once again a flood floated the wooden footbridge off its moorings. This had happened several times over the years, and each time it entailed the difficult task of moving and resetting the bridge. A committee was formed, chaired by Wes Lumry, to looking into the feasibility of either purchasing or building a steel bridge to replace the wooden structure.
Wes Lumry reported that he had located a used steel footbridge that was ideally suited for our needs. The bridge was free for the taking, but was located in Tulsa, OK. The club authorized Wes to handle the transport of the bridge.
E.D. Stone obtained all necessary permits and clearances and oversaw installation of the steel footbridge.
The shotgun range was completed, with the placement of trap shooting stations under the direction of E.D. Stone.
Concerns about increased development in the area surrounding the range led to inquiries about purchasing additional acreage to the west of the range property. Initial inquiries indicated that the asking price was beyond the Club's capability. Further inquiries would be made from time to time, but no breakthrough was apparent.
It was decided that a proactive measure should be taken in view of the increased development to inform prospective developers or buyers about the range. Several large signs would be erected along the property line describing the property as an active shooting range.
New fencing was erected around the perimeter of the range property. The project was under the direction of LeRoy Burgess.
Club President LeRoy Burgess proposed that a small, portable storage building be purchased for storing targets at the 200-yd. range. The project was approved by the Board in principle, but the details of size and whether to buy or build delayed implementation for most of a year.
The Executive Board finally agreed on a design for a storage building for the 200-yd. range. It was to be a '24x30' structure, consisting of a two stall garage and a finished room facing the firing line, from which shooting could be done in inclement weather. Range Officer Bob Allen was put in charge of getting permits and overseeing construction. Work on the new building got under way in the summer.
The last of the operating oil wells on the property were shut down, which ended pumper traffic onto the range property and ended concern about oil storage tanks adjacent to the firing range.
The oil storage tanks west of the 100-yd. berm were removed under the direction of E.D. Stone.
The 200-yd.-range building was completed. It was designed to allow shooting from the building, but this was declared unsafe without further safeguards in place. Pending those changes the Range Officer disallowed any shooting from the building.
New Range Officer Jeff Keys undertook multiple tasks to improve safety at the range. Barriers and warning signs were installed at the 200-yd. range to make it safe to shoot from the building in inclement weather. The floor of the 100-yd. range was lowered and leveled, making it safe to shoot at various distances without needing special target stands and otherwise to minimize the danger of ricochets. The height of several berms was raised as well.
To further increase safety, the "cowtown" facade on the east side of the property was moved to better align with the 100-yd.-range firing line. Other safety measures were undertaken as well to improve safety at cowboy shoots, including closing the 25-yd. range to metal targets.
An arrangement was made with a neighboring farmer to harvest hay on the north acreage, which would reduce the danger of grass fires. He agreed to provide bales for use in shooting events.
RV pads with electric hookups were installed on the south part of the property. Utilizing the range's new scoop-equipped tractor, all the parking areas and roads were graded and graveled. The hand pump at the well was replaced with an electric pump, and a weatherproof well house was built
In order to ensure compliance with a newly state-legislated Range Protection Act, a committee consisting of Phil Mellor (Chmn), LeRoy Burgess, Phil Lovchik, & Jim Dvorak drew up a comprehensive Range Safety Practices Manual. The manual, adopted by CTAGA, contained a revised set of range rules & procedures modeled after the NRA Range Manual.
A storage building was erected on the East Range for storing cowboy shoot equipment and to serve as a scoring station for cowboy shoots.
Because of increased development around the range property, a thorough study into the pros and cons of moving the range or staying put was undertaken by two committees, one looking into the costs associated with purchasing land and moving the range and the other at the costs associated with remaining at the present location and making the ranger safer..
A fire destroyed the Club’s 100-yard range house. That range house had served the membership of CTAGA for over 30 years. A great many fond memories went up in smoke that night.
The long awaited committee reports on whether to stay or move the range were delivered to the membership. Upon hearing the costs involved in a move the members voted to stay at the current location. Little was changed, however, regarding the conditions that motivated the study in the first place – housing development around the periphery of the range and the containment of fired rounds.
A five-year plan was adopted for range improvements, which would include a new, larger, and more modern range house to replace the one that burned. It would also involve a relocation of some shooting ranges, an unwelcome change to many members.