By Dale Shrull (With Rachel Sauer)
It won’t be long before the Western Slope has a fabulous new shooting range.
Back in May, Gov. John Hickenlooper visited the area where the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex will soon open.
The site is located off Interstate 70, a short distance from the Cameo exit (mile marker 46), a few miles east of Palisade.
With about 150 people looking on, Hickenlooper peered through the scope on the custom 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, made for the occasion by Mesa Precision Arms, squeezed the trigger when he was ready and sent the target spinning. He jokingly wiped his forehead with relief afterward.
His was the ceremonial first shot at the facility, which has been more than six years in the planning and is quickly becoming a goal realized.
With nearly 2,000 acres on the west side of the Colorado River a couple of miles from the interstate, the complex will be a resource for training, practice, education and competitive events, said JT Romatzke, Grand Junction area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“The ground where we stand right now is home to what will be one of the finest shooting facilities in the nation,” he told the audience on May 20.
Romatzke said the goal is to have phase 1 of the facility open to the public Jan. 1, 2018
Hickenlooper praised the work done to make it a reality.
“The local community really drove this,” Hickenlooper said, mentioning a synergy between the shooting facility and the ongoing Palisade Plunge mountain biking trail project. “When you start putting world-class shooting facilities with world-class mountain bike trails, that’s how brands and reputations are created.”
The shooting complex project came together after negotiations with Xcel Energy and Snowcap Coal Co., by the town of Palisade, led to acquisition of the land for the shooting facility in September 2016. That was made possible by a $2 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and an additional $2 million committed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Rich Sales, town administrator for Palisade, said there’s a lot of excitement for the project.
“We think it’s a very vibrant way to help in the economic recovery of Palisade and the entire Grand Valley,” he said. “It will bring a whole new user group to the Grand Valley.”
He also agreed with Hickenlooper about what the facility will mean to Palisade in developing different brands and catering to different users.
“We really hope this helps bring people into Palisade 12 months out of the year,” Sales said.
Palisade and CPW recently agreed to a 10-year lease on the land, with two optional 10-year lease extensions, for $2,776 a year.
The shooting facility, and the goal of drawing world-class shooters, will be an economic boon to the area, said Bob Broscheid, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“A day or two of shooting can be combined with other activities in the area,” he said.
When completely built out, the facility will be comprehensive, taking advantage of the full 2,000 acres and catering to all kinds of hunting and shooting enthusiasts.
There will be rifle ranges up to 1,000 yards; a shotgun range and also an area dedicated to shooting clay targets; archers won’t be left out either with plans to include 3-D archery and Olympic training archery fields
A 25,000-square foot clubhouse will also be part of future plans. The land will also have biking and hiking trails around the property.
Sales said once the facility is completely finished, it will make for a special destination.
“It’s one more gem in our basket of wonderful things to do here in the Grand Valley,” he said.
Rachel Sauer of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel contributed to this story.