First no-fee public shooting range opens in southern Wisconsin in more than 20 years

The new range has overhead baffles in shooting sheds to ensure safety. (Wisconsin DNR)

POYNETTE, Wis. — For the first time in more than 20 years, southern Wisconsin target shooting enthusiasts have a new no-fee public shooting range on public land – the DNR officially opened the Columbia County Public Target Range on Tuesday, July 24.

The facility is at the Mud Lake Wildlife Area. It features 100- and 50-yard rifle ranges, a 50-yard shotgun patterning range and a 25-foot pistol range; earthen backstops and side berms and overhead baffles in shooting sheds to ensure everyone’s safety.

Funding for the Columbia County range comes from the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds through the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration grant. The funds come from an excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. Matching donations came from private partners including the Columbia County Sporting Alliance and the Wisconsin River Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The facility’s construction completes the process initiated in 2013 to establish a public shooting range in Columbia County. The Mud Lake Wildlife Area site was selected from several other Columbia County wildlife areas following a lengthy process involving many partners in county and local government who formed a range advisory committee. The committee identified several possible locations then held public hearings, a public comment period and conducted surveys before making its final recommendation to the DNR. DNR accepted the recommendation and in collaboration with the Department of Administration, coordinated the contracting and construction of the range.

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