Seaman, Ohio — The long-awaited reopening of the Tranquility Wildlife Area shooting range opened Nov. 22 after a ceremonial ribbon cutting by the ODNR director and chief of the Division of Wildlife.
“I’m real excited to cut the ribbon and open this range and continue to improve shooting ranges around Ohio,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz.
The Tranquility shooting range was first constructed by the Ohio National Guard during the early 1960s at the new Tranquility Wildlife Area in Adams County. Land purchases for the wildlife area begin in 1956.
Over the years, the range had numerous improvements, upgrades, and near closures. The most recent being in 2002 when then Adams County Wildlife Officer Kevin Behr pushed efforts to keep the range open and lobbied for improvements and upgrades. Those upgrades at the time included a new 100-yard range and a new 25-yard range that replaced the old 50-yard range. Drainage issues were addressed, the back stops raised, and fencing added. At the time, there were only 10 shooting benches, five at the 100-yard range and five at the 25-yard range. The cost of the upgrades in 2002 were a little over $35,000.
The upgrades to the new range 20 years later came with a price tag of $1.5 million with 75% of the funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), with the remainder from the state Controlling Board.
In 2016, the old Tranquility range was showing its age and due to safety concerns, erosion at the backstop, and lack of maintenance, it was closed and there were questions if it would ever open again. However, the range received a new lease on life when in 2019 the state Controlling Board approved $575,000 for improvements.
The renovated range is nothing like the old range for those who can remember that far back. The new range can accommodate a total of 20 shooters and has two separated shooting areas with 10 shooting benches each. Gone is the 100-yard range and back to the 50-yard range with shooting benches for 10 shooters. On the other side of the berm is a 25-yard rifle range and a 7-yard handgun range with shooting benches for 10 shooters. The sheltered shooting benches have a roofline that extends well beyond the barrel of the gun and is done so shooters cannot shoot at an upward angle and send a bullet above the backstop. Drainage was an issue at the old range, but part of the renovation involved raising the ground level nearly two feet and drainage lines installed in the backstop and other areas.
From the old backstop the dirt and lead fragments (bullets) have been removed and mixed with an environmental mix that locks in and seals the lead from bleaching into the surrounding ground. The dirt and mix containing the lead fragments are at the bottom of the earthen side safety mounds. The backstops are a mix that appears to be finely ground limestone to catch the bullets but in reality it is ballistic sand that traps the bullets and every four to five years will be scooped up, lead removed, and put back in place.
Amenities at the range include gun holders, seating benches, and six picnic tables on concrete pads. Portable restrooms are at the range now, but according to Division of Wildlife Assistant Chief Todd Haines, a permanent public restroom will be built next summer.
The range is ADA compliant with concrete walkways for easy accessibility. Target stands are provided but a few spares are available at the range in case one gets shot up. Bring your own targets too, and a roll of blue painter’s tape is a good idea to attach your targets to the target holder.
Shooters are required to check in at the time of arrival by scanning the QR code posted on the welcome board located at the entrance of the range.
“At the welcome board is basic information, range hours, if you want more information here’s where you go, download our app, and a check in using the QR code,” said Haines. “Using your phone, scan the QR code which will take you to the link to check in with your customer ID number. You shoot, you leave, we’re going to send you a survey within the next day asking how your visit was, how many rounds did you shoot, how many was in your party, just some basic questions. Since cell service can be a challenge, there we will have sign in paper forms available to fill out.”
The Tranquility range is a Class B range, which basically means its unsupervised. But according to Haines, the Division of Wildlife is going to patrol it regularly and ODNR staff will have a presence there. A Division of Wildlife range permit is required to shot at Tranquility. Anyone 17 years old or younger is not required to have a range permit but must be accompanied by an adult holding a permit. Range hours are seven days a week from 9 a.m. until sunset.
At the grand opening, hosted by the Ohio Valley Longbeards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker and ODNR Director Mary Mertz cut the ribbon to open the new range.
“In the last two capital bills almost $40 million dollars have been dedicated to wildlife projects. That’s a new thing,” said Mertz. “Wildlife has never been in the capital bill before, and I think that’s transformational. In addition to our new shooting ranges, we’re looking at northwest Ohio where there aren’t a lot of shooting ranges and we’re looking for opportunities up there.”
The Tranquility range is located off State Route 770, northeast of Seaman on Wildlife Road in the Tranquility Wildlife Area. GPS coordinates are 39.010759, -83.511722. For more information, you can call Wildlife District Five at 937-372-9261.