The Itasca Gun Club of Grand Rapids, MN, held a ceremony Friday October 3rd to dedicate its new rifle range. The dedication included a ribbon cutting and the firing of two ceremonial shots. This dedication was held just eighteen months after the club received notification that it had to vacate the existing property.
A number of people spoke about the decision to switch the use of the property from the gun club to Magnetation, who will be mining the spoil piles in the area to produce taconite.
Club President Joe Oliver led off by describing how the club chose to react positively to the news that Magnetation would be acquiring a lease for the minerals underneath the club’s ranges and buildings. The range would have to move from the School Trust Fund land it leased, so that the fees from a mineral lease could generate higher income for the Trust Fund.
Club Treasurer Bob Ross then detailed the efforts over the last year, walking through the timeline and describing the efforts of club members, elected officials as well as state and local government to acquire new land and build the new range.
Itasca County Sheriff Vic Williams spoke of the value of the range to the Sheriff’s department, as they will use the range for continuing officer training. All of the department members are members of the club, at a corporate rate. Grand Rapids and Deer River city police will also use the range for training.
MN DNR Conservation Officer Shelly Patten spoke to the value of using the range for youth firearm safety training. She discussed plans to use the property to build a trail for youth field training; including deer stands to practice climbing up and down safely and decoy animals for youth hunters to identify whether or not a shot would be safe from that location.
Mike Twite, Environmental Director for Magnetation, spoke of his surprise at how quickly club members and local businesses came up with donations to acquire the new land and to begin road and range construction. Magnetation offered to match the first $10,000 raised, which happened very quickly. Magnetation then offered another $10,000 donation when the club could raise an additional $50,000, which again happened quickly. Mike praised the club for their professional attitude, and willingness to pitch in to make the move to a new location happen.
MN State Representative Tom Anzelc spoke about the importance of maintaining an active club, in order to provide safe shooting opportunities, a safe training location for youth and to continue our heritage of shooting sports. Rep Anzelc and State Senator Tom Saxhaug helped acquire a $100,000 grant for the construction of the new range.
Mert Rima, a veteran who was with the occupation forces in Japan, was at the dedication to fire two ceremonial shots. The first was to honor American veterans who served over history, from the Revolutionary War up through today and into the future. The second shot was to remember club members who have passed away.
The new 100 yard range is open to club members. The club also supports a variety of competitive shooting, casual shooting and training, which are open to the public. Monday night indoor pistol shooting is open to the public right now, and December will be the opening of our indoor range shooting season. Members of the club provide firearms safety training for hundreds of adults and youth each year. Information on Itasca Gun Club can be found at www.itascagunclub.org. Itasca Gun Club has approximately 700 members."