HILO, Hawaii – A need for a public shooting range on the Big Island drew a standing-room only crowd to a Tuesday evening meeting in Hilo.
The Hawaii County Game Management Advisory Commission assembled local hunters, rifleman, military officials and law-enforcement to discuss a plan to pursue a range at the county level. The public filled the council chamber to capacity.
“I think the need – just by those who are here – is well established,” said GMAC chair Tom Lodge. “It’s a conversation that’s long overdue.”
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had been leading an effort to create such a range at Pu’uanahulu. That effort appears to have stalled, thanks in part to noise concerns from neighboring resorts.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Hawaii County Police officers testified as to the benefit a range would have for recruit training. Others, like Nicholas Sanborn, just want to place where people can learn how to use their firearm safely.
“There is no where to go,” Sanborn said. “A lot of people who have a gun for home defense have not even shot the weapon; don’t know how to use it in a properly controlled environment. Where they may end up killing a loved one or hurting themselves instead of stopping a bad guy.”
Lodge says he hopes to have a presentation for the County Council within the next three or four months.
One audience member brought up the existing ranges at the Keaukaha Military Reserve. Pahoa resident Wymond Wilds, a member of the KMR Rifle and Pistol Team, said the land lease from Hawaiian Homelands recently expired, but he admitted that the proximity to the airport is an obstacle.
Big Island Video News will explore possible future options in our next video story, including one at Pohakuloa Training Area, as well as the status of the Hawaii DLNR project in West Hawaii.