TOP: A wooden rifle rest displaying the ownership of the Fall River Gun Club sits on one of the numerous concrete benches which are available to the public for use at the Fall River Gun Range located just north of Hot Springs along Hwy. 79. (Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star)
BOTTOM LEFT/RIGHT: Fall River Gun Club annual banquet held at the American Legion a sold out crowd. Mike Klosowski, South Dakota Game and Fish Region 1 Supervisor, addressed the membership regarding future upgrades to the gun range. (Photos by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald Star)
By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – The annual Fall River Gun Club (FRGC) banquet was held Saturday, Feb. 25, at the American Legion Hall with a full house of almost 100 in attendance.
Guest speaker Mike Klosowski, who is the S.D. Game, Fish & Parks Region 1 Supervisor, spoke to the membership regarding prospective gun range upgrades and more. He assured that the 2025 budget will include funds for electricity to the range, with a potential project start date in late 2024.
“We have looked at accessing other funds for electricity, yet it is budgeted for 2025,” assured Klosowski
“We have been trying for electricity for some time,” said FRGC President Gary Owens in a separate interview later in the week, along with FRGC Vice President Tom Weller.
“They understand the need and see the need,” added Weller. “It needs to go through the appropriations process now.”
Some future range upgrades are dependent upon electricity, such as the installation of range lights and horns, as well as an electric gate. Solar power for such improvements had been considered, yet due to the unreliable weather patterns in the Southern Black Hills, it was not a feasible or reliable option.
While Klosowski made mention of the state pursuing potential sites along I-90, for an additional range in the future – with focus on Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Aberdeen – the FRGC range still remains the premier gun range in the area, attracting shooters from all over the state as well as neighboring states.
“We have the best long range in the state,” said Weller. “And in 2022, we added more targets to the precision rifle range training range (long range rifle ) from 300 to 875 yards with multiple shooting positions. There isn’t anything like that nearby.”
Klosowski also announced that a new three-year MOU (memorandum of understanding) between GFP and FRGC would be sent to the club soon.
“We don’t expect any changes,” said Owens, “if there are, it will be minor.” Stating that the communication with the state has always been open and free flowing, “We have a really good relationship with them.”
Owens explained the MOU will state the rules of responsibility “with the state completing capital improvements and the club maintaining the range.”
“The gun club does an extraordinary job on the upkeep of the range,” said Klosowski. “The job is enormous. Thank you for partnering with us.”
The year 2022 saw multiple upgrades to the range including, but not limited to, the aforementioned additional long range targets, refurbishing the rifle range target bases, completing the shotgun patterning range, installation of metal gongs at the 100 yard line to complement the existing ones at the 200 yard as well as reconfigured the 25 yard rifle target berms.
Additionally, the club offered beginner pistol courses, mini long range match, and MAD (membership appreciation day) for members complete with metal reactive targets on pistol and rifle ranges.
In 2023, the club hopes to complete the installation of an additional vault toilet at the end of the 200’ line, create new rifle target bases starting with a 100’ berm and finish the shotgun area.
But the anticipated work for 2023 doesn’t stop at improvements, as maintenance is the key to well oiled machine.
The FRGC has lofty goals for this year including repairing and painting the entry gate, finish painting the buildings, finish metal enclosure by pistol range, convert pistol targets to 2’ x 2’ frames, spread gravel in pistol range, install brass deflectors in pistol range, repaint pistol benches in red area, spray for weeds, replace all rifle range target holders with new bases, basic clean up on a continual basis and install new signs.
“We are always looking for volunteers,” said Owens of the help needed to complete their laundry list of ‘to do’s’ on the range.
Currently the FRGC club membership is at approximately 155 families but they welcome more.
“We all enjoy watching families enjoy the range,” said Owens.
The club embraces the philosophy of safe firearm use.
“We, as a club, help promote marksmanship, safe gun handling and hunter safety,” said Owens.
Members can enjoy member discounts on certain events as well as member only range days every Monday and Tuesday as well as the first Sunday of each month.
“We want to improve the value for a member,” said Weller, as the club continues to add member perks.
Prior to Koslowski speaking at the banquet, introductions of attendees of note were held, which included Sheriff Lyle Norton and Hot Springs Police Department Captain Phil Shivley.
FRGC Treasurer Casey Cook stated that the club is in good financial shape with a collective balance of just more than $39,000 and with some of those funds earmarked for future scholarships.
After many years of service two board members, Dan Harley and Laura Cox, had stepped down leaving vacancies.
Elections were held for those positions with two members stepping up to the plate, Ginger Sladky for Secretary and Drake Sladky for Treasurer, both were voted in unanimously.
To volunteer or learn more about the FRGC call President Gary Owens at 605-517-1759 or visit their website to view upcoming classes, membership information, range rules and more at fallrivergunclub.org.