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State grant leverages local dollars to improve Hudson Rod, Gun and Archery range

Hudson Rod, Gun and Archery Club board members Don Simpson, left, and Mark Wotruba join member Teal Persinger on the pistol range, which is currently being renovated. Range users will eventually stand on a heated floor and aiming through improved gates, limiting ability to swing a weapon toward another user. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Steve Dzubay)1 / 3
Gun club president Rick Persinger stands beneath the canopy of the existing 100- and 200-yard rifle range. New berms and a shell over the 200-yard targets will assure no bullets can stray from the range. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Steve Dzubay)2 / 3
The Hudson Rod, Gun and Archery Club may be a century old but the meeting minutes only document activities back to 1924. The 400-member group is active in youth-learning and conservation activities as well as providing a safe venue for shooting sports.3 / 3

Members and occasional users of range and trap facilities offered by the Hudson Rod, Gun and Archery Club are watching some big improvements unfold, made possible by their dues and a $49,000 matching grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Some earth-moving linked to create safer shooting lanes has already been completed. Some 110 concrete cubes -- two feet wide and high and six feet long -- have been stacked to create an impermeable barrier along the north side of the ten-lane pistol range. Other pistol range improvements include the construction of wooden shooting gates that can be used standing or prone, the addition of a large overhang, new windows and heating for a training room adjacent the pistol range.

The nearby rifle range will also be made handicap-accessible, the number of long-distance stations expanded and made safer through the installation of side berms and a canopy will be place over the distant 200-yard targets to prevent possible ricochets.

The main parking lot outside the club house will be re-graded to improve accessibility and reduce erosion.

The upstairs of the 1950s clubhouse will also get new windows, more insulation, better lighting, storage and a sound system to make it more effective for groups like Boy Scouts, youth trap teams, hunter and snowmobile safety classes and other outdoor-related groups and classes that meet there.

Hudson's club is one of 12 facilities across the state to win a piece of a $280,000 shooting range grant which is funded by an excise tax -- known as Pittman-Robertson -- placed on firearms and ammunition. Some 23 organizations applied for the money, said Hudson club president Rick Persinger.

The Hudson club had to agree to match the grant funds to win approval.

Grant awards were also contingent on clubs having a primary purpose to “teach the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to be a responsible hunter” and “construct, operate, or maintain firearm and archery ranges for public use.”

Ranges have to be open to the public (non-members) a minimum of 100 days per year and range operators can charge a reasonable fee during the open hours.

The Hudson ranges are open to the public every weekend and non-members can use the facilities for $4 per visit. Current club membership is at about 400. Dues are $150 a year, or $75 for those who complete a block of volunteer hours for the club.

The grants are also aimed at bringing ranges into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and other federal requirements as appropriate.

Although not all areas at the Hudson club are currently handicap-accessible, all those aided by grant money will be when improvements are completed later this year.

And Hudson club members have already gone one step further in that they helped raise money to purchase and maintain a rubber-tracked, all terrain chair for use at no charge by disabled hunters. The chair and a trailer to house and transport it cost about $14,000.

A number of area law enforcement agencies use club facilities regularly for training and certifications. Among those are the city of Hudson, village of North Hudson, the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department and on occasion, private security firms.

Grant applications were scored on factors such as the proximity of the range to population centers and the amount of public shooting opportunity the range will provide. Other factors include the demonstration of need, amount of public support, cost, hunter education need, size of the project and number of different shooting opportunities at the facility.

“The best place for someone to learn to shoot and to practice shooting is at a well-managed and maintained range,” Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator. “This grant program will help range operators and clubs provide high quality shooting opportunities around the state.”

The Hudson Rod, Gun and Archery Club sits on about 107 acres off Krattley Lane. About 70 acres of the land are enrolled in the state's managed forest program. The group's 40- by 60-foot clubhouse overlooks Lake Mallalieu, on which the group owns about 500 feet of shoreline.

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Steve Dzubay

Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer from 1995-2016. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.