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 November 12, 2010


Chesser: New range, future lodge support quality of life at McCoy

The Oct. 30 grand-opening of the new Sportsman's Lodge ranges marked the midpoint of efforts to construct a recreational shooting complex to expand Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) opportunities on Fort McCoy.

PHOTO: Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser talks about the range and future lodge during the Sportsman’s Range Grand Opening ceremony. Photo by Lou Ann M. Mittelstaedt
Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser talks about the range and future lodge during the Sportsman’s Range Grand Opening ceremony. (Photo by Lou Ann M. Mittelstaedt)

Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser said the range project began with a Family and MWR survey conducted about 18 months ago. One question asked participants what Family and MWR amenity they wanted that Fort McCoy did not provide. The responses indicated a recreational shooting range, with, in order, pistol-, rifle-, trap- and skeet-ranges and a 3-D archery course.

“We took a look at the top four requests and realized that it was possible to provide them all in one complex,” Chesser said. “At the same time, in April 2009, we earned recognition during the Army Communities of Excellence (ACOE) competition as one of the Army’s most-improved installations. That distinction won us $200,000 in ACOE monies, and we realized that we could use it to construct the shooting complex and thereby measurably improve quality of life on the installation.”

Further, by using Troop Project labor to build the ranges the installation could extend the ACOE funding it received. Chesser said it was a win-win situation for all. The engineer troops received valuable training, and, as a byproduct of their work, the installation received the complex it wanted.

During this process, Fort McCoy also was able to procure Capital Purchase, Minor Construction funds to construct a Sportsman’s Lodge facility.

The Sportsman’s Lodge ranges include a 200-meter rifle range, a 50-meter pistol range and a combination trap and skeet field. The 3-D archery course is a planned addition that will be constructed in the spring of 2011. Chesser said the ranges were developed for recreational purposes, and not for military training. The ranges are designed to support recreational shooting as well as select competitive events in the future, such as league trap and skeet shoots and sanctioned rifle and pistol matches of varying disciplines.

The facility will be open to authorized Family and MWR patrons, including Soldiers, civilian employees, Family members, retirees, government contractors working on the installation and invited guests.

The next project is the Sportsman’s Lodge. The lodge will be a 4,800 square foot log cabin structure with a bar, restaurant, conference areas, pro-shop, and a large porch where patrons can relax and enjoy the ranges and the surrounding area, Chesser said.

“It will be a place to go and enjoy with Family and friends,” he said. “In addition to supporting the range operations, our intent is to use the facility to augment our limited dining options for the work force and to host conferences and unit social functions in a Northwoods sportsman-themed bar, restaurant and conference facility — a facility that will be different from anything else on post.”

Chesser said he developed the vision for the Lodge based upon his personal experience of living and working within the cantonment area for 20 months. “Other than McCoy’s, there was no place to eat on post after 6:30 pm, and there was no place to just hang out.” Although existing food venues provide fast-food dining opportunities, they do not offer restaurant-type dining opportunities, he added. “The lodge will help fill that void.”

The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation currently is working to finalize the lodge design so the project can be moved forward into the contracting process. Fort McCoy officials expect to break ground on the lodge project around March 2011 and complete construction by this time next year.

For more information about the Sportsman’s Range, call 608-388-3517 or 1-800-531-4703.

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