Despite moving massive amounts of dirt and a deluge of rain, work appears to be on schedule for a $20 million outdoor shooting range in northeast central Alabama.
Despite moving massive amounts of dirt, work appears to be on schedule for a $20 million outdoor shooting range in northeast central Alabama. When complete, the 500-acre CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park will feature a rifle range and multiple-bay pistol and shotgun ranges, equipped with sophisticateda electronic targets. The park, located in Talladega County, will serve gun enthusiasts in the state and throughout the United States.
“The location is rural, but close enough to the interstate for easy access,” said Mark Johnson, deputy chief operating officer of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), which maintains permanent centers in Camp Perry, Ohio, and Anniston, Ala. “The county’s namesake, Talladega, is recognized throughout the country, due to all of the NASCAR advertisements of the track since 1970.”
Initial work began in late September 2013. The project is being carried out in stages, according to Johnson.
“The amount of dirt being moved on the site is incredible, especially when you realize the cut and fill for the site balances. Phase I is the major earthmoving portion, while phase II will focus on the construction portion. The two overlap each other by about four months. Our project manager structured the phases according to many factors, including time line, contractors and weather concerns.”
Brad Cole Construction Inc. in Carrollton, Ga., was contracted to oversee phase I. Rabren General Contractors Inc. of Auburn, Ala., will manage phase II, which includes building tasks, as well as road and parking lot paving.
In addition to transferring mountains of earth from surrounding hills, Brad Cole Construction crews have had to remove wood and brush from the grounds. Project manager Sam Albee said the work includes 106 acres of clearing and grubbing, 680,000 cu. yds. (519,897 cu m) of mass excavation, miscellaneous concrete structures and erosion control. Brad Cole’s work began in December 2013.
“Some of the tasks still to be carried out include storm drain, fine and finish grading and permanent grassing,” Albee said. “Weather has been the biggest obstacle, by far. In fact, 52 percent of the time on the project has been lost to rain, at this point.”
Muddy conditions have been a significant setback, as crews were planning to use the soil to fill berms, buildings, parking lots and roads. The inclement weather also has resulted in plenty of overtime during holidays, often leading to seven-day work weeks.
A variety of equipment is being used on the project.
“The fleet has included six 40-ton articulated trucks, three 60-ton rigid frame trucks, five 400 size excavators, three Cat 621 scrapers, three Cat 631 scrapers, two D-8 dozers, two D-9 dozers, four D-6 dozers, miscellaneous compactors, fuel trucks and water trucks.”
Albee said D-8 dozers with KG blades and rake attachments combined with 400 excavators fitted with grapple attachments have played a key role in their work. Excavators stacked organic materials for burning. The basic existing fleet, he said, will remain on site. The mass excavation fleet will be first to demobilize, leaving remaining equipment to fine grade and prepare areas for permanent grassing and landscaping.
Some of the primary materials used on site include churt for structural fill requirements and crushed aggregate for stone base. In addition, crews are using #57 stone for pipe beddings and rip rap for erosion control stone.
Albee said most equipment for the high-tech project will come pre-assembled. That will leave only basic wiring and concrete footing requirements for site installation.
The site also will have a helicopter pad and miles of golf cart paths for main transportation requirements. Other features will include all electronic targets and electronic scoring; a 600-yard rifle range with 54 firing points and targets located at distances of 200 yards, 300 yards, and 600 yards; a 100-yard range with 40 firing points; a 50-yard pistol range with 25 firing points and targets located at 25 yards and 50 yards; a 50-foot, police-style qualification range; 15 action target bays; 15 sporting clays stations; and a trap field with five-stand overlay all on automated clay target machines with card readers. The firing points are covered to prevent rain delays and help eliminate visitor discomfort.
Johnson said earth moving is going well in spite of the rain, which totals more than 32 in. since last fall. The range is expected to be open to the public in April 2015, pending extensive range testing operations. It will be open for daily use, and will include firearm safety and marksmanship classes and CMP-hosted regional and national marksmanship competitions.
“The 100-yard range will be where all first-time visitors shoot on electronic targets for the first time,” said Johnson. “Before any target practice begins, first-time users have to go through our range use safety class, and then report to the 100-yard range chief safety officer. A CMP range officer observes all live firing on ranges at all times.”
“The biggest challenges have been in siting the ranges,” said David C. Christian, president of Christian & Associates Architects Inc. in Anniston. “Most ranges are constructed on flat land, but our site has a lot of rolling topography, which gives it a unique character, but also creates significant design challenges. Especially with the 600-yard range, the line of sight requirements over that distance have required a significant earth moving operation. The topography has also created some dramatic opportunities, with the ability to locate the main clubhouse building on high ground with a commanding view over the 600-yard range.
“Our goal has always been to work with what the land gives us,” Christian said. “Toward that end, we placed the various types of ranges on the parts of the site best suited to accommodate them. Despite the huge earth moving effort, we were able to limit the site disturbance area and maintain the natural site conditions to a large degree.
“Most longer ranges feature a single target line with multiple firing positions at various distances from the targets. That requires the shooter to relocate in order to fire at a different distance, which in turn requires the entire range to shut down as shooters move downrange with their gear, and effectively prohibits the provision of shelter at the shorter distances, as that shelter would obstruct the longer distance shot. CMP’s commitment to electronic targets allows this range to have a single firing line with fixed shelter and multiple targets at 200, 300 and 600 yards.”
According to Christian, the shooter will never have to relocate downrange, and shooting will be able to occur at all three distances simultaneously from different parts of the firing line. The range will never need to be shut down for shooter relocation or manual scoring relays. The resulting design is both more flexible in use and more efficient in match scheduling.
The firm’s involvement in the project began even before the site was identified. A team prepared early feasibility studies and prototypical layouts before adapting the preliminary work to the specific site selected.
“Once the site was fixed, we led the overall site design effort, with critical input from a range consultant and civil engineer. Turning our focus to the development of the structures, we established the prevailing design aesthetic and executed design and construction documents for the primary structures.
The club house, a 13,000 sq. ft. (1,207 sq m) facility with monitors for viewing match participant’s scores via live feed, will be located 30 ft. (9 m) above the 600-yd. (548 m) range for a full view of range activity from the observation decks. A large lounge with seating areas will be available for spectator comfort. The building will serve as a point of arrival, as well as being the administrative, educational and social hub of the entire park
“It’s intended to create an enduring visual image for the entire development,” Christian said. “It projects a civic scale in the tradition of the great exhibition buildings of the last century, while utilizing a palette of familiar basic materials presented in a straightforward and honest way. Exposed steel structure, stained concrete floors, natural stone and metal roofing make the most material impact.
“The prospect of a truly world-class shooting sports park, which furthers the CMP’s mission of marksmanship, training and firearm safety is pretty interesting in itself. CMP-Talladega Marksmanship Park is likely to become a sentinel destination for shooters of all ages to challenge their abilities and to enhance their marksmanship skills. That our design work will hopefully facilitate and positively affect those experiences for years to come is most gratifying to us.”
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a national organization that trains and educates citizens in responsible uses of firearms and airguns through gun safety training, marksmanship training and competitions. The CMP makes its top priority serving youth through gun safety and related activities.