Long Pine Target Range
By Dave Black
My lifelong love of shooting was fostered by time spent around a variety of weapons during my military service and in other roles as an instructor and competitor. Growing up in a small town in western Pennsylvania, I learned about the outdoors by hunting and fishing. Having many clubs around where you could shoot and enjoy yourself was commonplace and taken for granted.
Upon retiring from the military in 2000 and moving to the Michaux State Forest area, I immediately looked for places to shoot, train, and teach my kids the proper way to handle weapons. Most clubs in the area were already at maximum enrollment and I found the scraped-out range by Long Pine Reservoir to use.
After I saw how the range was being misused and had become a problem to care for, I teamed up with Forest Manager Roy Brubaker to see what could be done. My family started to do volunteer cleanup, but it was not enough and the range was eventually closed for safety reasons. Roy and I put together meetings of interest for recreational users at the dam, wildlife monitors, safety officials, environmental advocates, hunters, and target shooters to look at ways to approach planning another range layout that would be acceptable to all. This process was long and dotted with roadblocks, but eventually it moved forward. People working together, hearing each other, and exercising their voices was key to the range completion. The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Army Corps of Engineers contributed to the creation of a certified NRA range complex outline, and a Keystone Fund grant helped make the project a reality.
As a range user and volunteer I feel privileged to have such an outstanding, affordable range nearby. Being a volunteer is a responsibility that goes with having the privilege to use such a fine facility and preserve it for future users. In today’s economy, volunteers are critical to keep the range in operation.
The state-of-the-art facility supports one of the largest regions of hunters, plus law enforcement and shooting competitors from Pennsylvania and other states. It is also available for campers and other visitors to the state forest. The area has a strong hunting and target shooting history, as well as a legacy of training future generations on proper gun handling and respect for the outdoors. The range provides an important space for this training.
This project was years in the making, from conversation to planning and design to construction. The end result shows what can be accomplished by working together. It was a privilege to be involved in the project, and I am grateful to everyone who supported me and others along the road to completion.