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Gun club unveils plans to prevent stray bullets

5:24 PM, Oct 7, 2013   |    comments
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Shots fired from the North Ottawa Rod & Gun club hit homes in a nearby subdivision.

GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- It took bullets flying into a Grand Haven Township neighborhood and hitting an outdoor worker, to bring changes. 

Now, two years later,  the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club says it has a new plan to improve safety and reopen the shooting range.

Not every marksmen can hit a bullseye 100% of the time.  However, the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club is making a promise about where the bullets won't go. 

"If they're used from the prescribed firing lines, we can provide a guarantee the bullet will not escape," says Curt Walburg, a member of the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club.

Two years ago, stray bullets flew from the gun club's property to a nearby neighborhood, striking an outdoor worker. 

"Accidents happen, so we have to get up and fix what was wrong," says Walburg.

 Now, the gun club is asking the township for a special use permit, so it can build what is known as a baffle system.

"You have a series of three baffles or like a wall, which they will be shooting underneath," says Bill Cargo, Grand Haven Township Manager.  "If they can show that this design prevents bullets from escaping the range, I suspect they will have approval."

Cargo compares the baffle system to a series of window openings. He says the shooter will only be able to see through the openings, but not into the sky.

"If you can't see blue sky you cant fire into blue sky," says Walburg.

The gun club hired safety experts from Florida to help with the plan. However, not all residents are satisfied yet.

"Given the gravity of the issue, we believe it's appropriate to have one other independent party assure us that it's as safe as can be," says Randy Bremmer, a member of the Cutter Park Neighborhood Association.

WZZM 13 asked Walburg if the changes should have been made sooner, knowing that a neighborhood was not far away.

"No, it was not necessary," says Walburg. Walburg blames the incident on Grand Valley State University officers for using the shooting range inappropriately.
He says the same behavior won't be allowed again, if and when the range reopens.

The planning commission will hold a public hearing on October 21st, on the proposed changes at the gun club and the request for a special use permit.
A vote could be made the same day. 

The North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club hopes to reopen the shooting range next summer.

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