Sheriff’s ranges give public a new target

Jerry Thomas Gautreaux
March 10, 2010
Friday, Mar. 12
March 12, 2010
Jerry Thomas Gautreaux
March 10, 2010
Friday, Mar. 12
March 12, 2010

Although violence might not be a major concern for residents of the Tri-parish area, local law enforcement groups are urging citizens to take advantage of various self-defense classes offered throughout the region.

Terrebonne, St. Mary and Lafourche parishes are typically frequented by area sportsmen aiming – literally – to improve their shot. However, a fair amount of residents are now hoping to improve their aim for a different reason: self-defense. And the introduction of handgun courses at the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Shooting Range has made training the individuals even easier.

Now, people from all walks of life are starting to appear in front of the target, gun drawn, locked and ready to shoot.

The majority of people seen at the range are hunters, who have experience behind the trigger. People looking to learn who don’t have any prior knowledge of firearms, are also beginning to look more commonplace, according to officials.

Handgun training courses typically last a day and include fistfuls of information on self-defense tactics, proper use and maintaining of firearms and safety. Most people take the classes for personal protection or to learn more about guns in general, said officials.

“I know about guns. I’ve been around them my whole life. But I wanted to learn more about self-defense,” said Mark Adams, a resident of Thibodaux who recently took the handgun course.

After participants complete the daylong venture, they receive a certificate of completion.

The Lafourche-based range opened in 1998, and since day one, it has embraced public use. But times are limited to weekends only, as the facility is used throughout the week to train law enforcement and military personnel.

In an effort to educate people on the proper use of firearms, officials are starting early. A greater portion of the school year is spent trying to get parents to sign their children up for the hunter’s education course, which delves into proper hunting techniques and safe gun handling.

While dates typically depend on the amount of people wanting to attend, classes of all types usually start in early summer and run into December, according to Lafourche Sheriff’s Lt. Jeremy Grainer.

Currently there are three ranges: a 25-yard pistol range, 100-yard rifle range and a newly built 200-yard rifle range. Plans are also underway to introduce shooting sports to the area by building a skeet range within the next fiscal year.

The skeet setup was originally proposed in 2005 and is a joint effort between the range and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife. Since the idea was brought forward, numerous changes in cost and wind-load building specs have caused the project to be delayed.

Shooting sports have taken flight in parts of north Louisiana. Now, it’s time to bring it to the south, said Lt. Grainer.

“Most of the kids in this area hunt, its just giving them a safe place to do shooting sports competitions,” he added.

Local 4-H groups have also voiced support over the idea, said Lt. Grainer.

A day pass at the range will run $10, while an annual membership will bring the tab up to $100.

Unfortunately, residents of St. Mary will have to make the long trek to Lafourche or Terrebonne for weekend shooting, as the range is changing its hours from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. due to maintenance, according to a news release issued by officials.

Terrebonne Parish has a range on Savanne Road, with similar arrangements for shooting pistols and rifles. However, the facility is also used for outside events like wedding receptions and social gatherings, said Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office spokesperson Maj. Malcolm Wolfe.

But the benefits of the range are more than just recreational.

“People using the range for target practice allows them to be in a controlled, public environment, instead of having them in the woods shooting, which can be dangerous in residential areas,” he explained.

While training takes place at the facility frequently, those hoping to dig in are urged to call ahead of time for availability. The range’s normal hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (985) 857-0260 for more information.

Hours for public use at the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office Shooting Range are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Terrebonne’s range is free for public use. Ammo and gun required.

Raceland resident John Henry participates in a handgun course offered by officials from the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. * Photo by MICHAEL DAVIS