By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock
An organized gun range is a beautiful place. It’s a classroom – indoors or out – because it teaches valuable lessons. Lessons in safety and care and maintenance of weapons and ammunition.
Most importantly, gun ranges are places where you learn discipline and respect. Respect for rules and the discipline to ensure that you and others follow them.
Regretfully, there is a gun range in Haliburton County that is not a beautiful place. It’s a place where respect does not exist and discipline is nowhere to be found. It is a garbage-strewn, dangerous place and a disgrace to us all.
It’s the abandoned gun range on the former Frost Centre area on the west side of Highway 35 near Margaret Lake Road. It is not the former Frost Centre property bought by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). OPSEU bought the 40.6 acres of Frost Centre property bounded by St. Nora Lake and Highway 35.
Some Frost Centre activities, an old sawmill, a maple syrup demonstration site and the gun range, were conducted in the bushland on the other side of Highway 35 but were abandoned when the Frost Centre was closed in 2004.
That area was not part of the OPSEU purchase and is public land owned by the province. The township offers cross-country ski trails through the area and has erected signs saying a pass must be purchased to use them.
The gun range is accessed through a rough dirt road off Margaret Lake Road. It is gated but the chain lock has been broken many times and the gate has been wide open for many months, if not years.
People are still shooting there, without any organization, supervision or usual gun range protocols. They have turned the place into a garbage dump.
One of the first rules a shooter learns is to pick up spent casings. When you finish firing, you bend down and collect the empty shells.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of spent shells litter the range grounds, along with other garbage. There are plastic and brass shotgun casings, plus brass rifle and handgun shells. Some of the handgun rounds are .38 and .45 calibre – the type used by law enforcement.
There is a building on the gun range. It is a substantial, well-built structure that has been vandalized. Its doors are torn off and the inside is strewn with used targets, empty beer cans and a variety of other garbage.
I have no idea who is using the range. There was shooting there (it sounded like handgun shots) this past weekend.
The place needs to be shut down immediately. Who is responsible for doing that, I don’t know – it doesn’t matter who. Just get it done.
I am not writing this because I am anti-gun or opposed to shooting ranges. In earlier days I was a competitive shooter who competed against Michigan State Police and U.S. Army combat defence teams. It is a challenging fun sport and one that teaches responsibility and focus.
But what’s happening at the old gun range off Highway 35 is a sickening disgrace.
This is Haliburton County, not some U.S. hillbilly county where people who have eaten squirrels for too many generations do a lot of stupid things and are content to live surrounded by their own squalor.