Huntsville moves ahead with law enforcement firing range project

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- A firing range is a growing need for Huntsville's growing police department.

WHNT News 19 told you back in June about the project that, for now, is still just a plan in the works. But it's an idea the city and Huntsville Police Department are moving forward with fleshing out. Thursday, the city approved engineers to evaluate the site, which is off Wall Triana Highway near the Huntsville Utilities water treatment plant.

"They will tell us, is this feasible, and what the cost would be," said Chief Mark McMurray.  "It's going to be a real point of pride for us to have our own training facility."

The project has also had input from sources familiar with the kind of weapons that will be fired, assuming plans move forward.

"We've been working in conjunction with the Remington folks," said Mayor Tommy Battle. "We found the people who know what to do, and there's really a science to doing it."

McMurray added the range would also be up to national regulations. The city-approved contract with an engineer details it to be a 100-yard rifle range and 50-yard pistol range, with facilities and buffers for noise reduction. It will also have, "a large, 30-foot dirt berm all the way around it," said McMurray. "Noise should be at a minimum."

While this is not a done deal just yet, they're hoping this site will work out.

"It's a very out-of-the-way location, and that's kind of what we were looking for," said Battle. "We're looking for a place that doesn't have a lot of population around it, so there's not a safety factor."

Chief McMurray said qualifying and practice is costly in overtime and time itself, as all 434 HPD officers currently have to fit in time at other ranges and some of them need to come in off-shift to do it. With a new space, "We would not have to pay them extra time, we don't have to pay rental space on a facility," he said. "We have our own pistol trainers, our own armors, and it will be nice to finally move in our own range masters."

McMurray said if things work out, he would like to see a groundbreaking in the spring. He thinks completion could still take at least a year after that.