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Shooting range to reopen after stray bullet incident

7:11 PM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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Shots fired from the North Ottawa Rod & Gun club hit homes in a nearby subdivision.

GRAND HAVEN TWP., Mich. (WZZM) -- A Grand Haven Township gun club plans to reopen its shooting range after stray bullets flew through a nearby neighborhood in 2011. The president of the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club plans to add several new safety features, but township officials want all the details before the club reopens.

North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club President Mark Welch says he's not aware of any major safety issues in the gun club's history, until September 29, 2011.

"The board of directors voluntarily closed the range on that date," says Welch. 

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Almost two years after several stray bullets flew into a nearby neighborhood and hit a private contractor, Welch plans to reopen the shooting range.

"The range was safe to begin with, we had some extremely negligent use by a third party," says Welch.

The gun club is awaiting final results from an NRA evaluation. In the meantime, Welch plans to add new safety features.

"We have built up the berm, that is the earth and dikes, if you will, that enclose the outdoor range," says Welch.

Welch says he's also planning on adding an outdoor structure to the shooting range, which is similar in shape to a hallway, meant to leave less space for bullets to fly.

Neighbors have mixed feelings about the gun club reopening.

"If they put all the safety measures in place, they were here before we were, but I will not have my granddaughter be subject to what happened," says resident, Norma Lambert.

"When the club comes to us and says we're ready to start operating, our question will be 'OK how do we know we're never going to repeat the incident?'" says Ron Boltje, Grand Haven Township attorney.

Welch says he will be in contact with township leaders, but ultimately he says the gun club will make its own decision.

"We do intend to open the outdoor range," says Welch.

Welch expects the shooting range to open in the spring.

Grand Haven Township's attorney says the gun club must get approval if it plans to expand or change its zoning for the improvements. The gun club is still reviewing whether to allow third party agencies in the outdoor range in the future.

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