‘A community endeavor’: Lawmakers hope shooting complex proposals feature financing opportunities

    If Wyoming’s proposed state shooting complex ends up costing $10 million, Wyoming Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, says he’ll be “very disappointed.”

    The $10 million figure is often cited as the budget for the proposed shooting facility based on the legislation that was passed last year creating the State Shooting Complex Oversight Task Force.

    But the state doesn’t have to use that money, Hicks said – in fact, “if we end up with a $10 million facility, then I think we’ve failed.”


    “There are other opportunities out there (to) help finance this thing,” Hicks said during a task force meeting last month. “It’s not limited to just this budget.”

    The task force has asked communities throughout the state to submit letters of interest proposing possible locations for the future facility, including information about available land, access, utilities, amenities – and economic development.

    The economic development portion should outline each community’s “vision” or “business model” for the future of the site, Hicks said – including opportunities for financing.

    “You may end up with a proposal where you have a significant interest by the private sector that’s willing to (fund) it,” he said. “Some municipalities (may) say, ‘Look, we’re going to provide $1 million of land at the current market value, that’s our contribution.’”


    Wyoming Rep. Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton, recalled that the “little burg” of Palisades, Colorado, spent millions of dollars to purchase property as part of their site proposal for the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex several years ago.

    “It was a community endeavor,” she said. “They purchased that property … because they saw how many people (Cameo) was going to bring in and what it was going to do for the local economy and how much it could grow.”

    She encouraged communities in Wyoming to take a similar approach as they contemplate their own site proposals.  


    “It’s not, ‘Tell us how much money we can get so that we can figure out how to spend it,’” she said. “Just say, ‘What can we do?’ … What can your community do? And then how can (you) support the state in everything that’s coming in – because we will be the Amendment 2 state, you all know that.”

    Large shooting facilities in other states have taken note of Wyoming’s plan to build a world-class complex of its own, Shoshoni Mayor Joel Highsmith told the task force last month, sharing a conversation he had with an employee at the NRA Whittington Center in New Mexico.

    Highsmith had called the center to gather information for Fremont County’s shooting complex proposal – but he said management there was “a little reluctant (to) work with us.”


    “They actually said that they’re looking at us as a competitor,” he said, calling the statement “a compliment.”

    “What has been created here and what you’re working on – you’re talking world-class, and it’s getting … world-class attention.”

    Hicks agreed that facilities like Whittington and Cameo represent “the bar” for Wyoming’s proposed shooting complex.

    “That’s what we’re trying to emulate here, or even one-up,” Hicks said. “The purpose of this is to create a facility that anybody in the State of Wyoming has access to but (that) also has the ability to draw … significant levels of economic activity.”

    Letters of interest for the shooting complex will be accepted through March.

    The task force will use the information outlined in those letters to help them develop their formal request for proposals, which should be released in the spring.

    After proposals are submitted, the task force plans to rank them, hear oral presentations, and conduct site visits before making a recommendation this fall.


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