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Firing range construction near completion

Members of the crew from Andy Pettow Construction contributed some free work to finishing concrete work needed for the Perham Sportsmans Club firing range.1 / 2
Volunteers from Andy Pettow Construction work on pouring and finishing forms made for shooting bench tops at the new Perham Sportsmans Club firing range.2 / 2

Construction on the Perham Sportsmans Club firing range is nearing completion.

The project, spearheaded by Dave Edvall and Frank Vorderbruggen, is set for final touches in July. Shooting should be available in late July or early August.

"A lot of people said it couldn't be done," said Vorderbruggen. "We've got guys that are business owners and have a can-do attitude. We wouldn't take no for an answer."

Those guys are the 67 members of the Perham Sportsmans Club. Funding for the range used no club general funds. Donations and one fundraiser have supplied the firing range funds needed for completion of the project. While the range is intended for club members, its organizers stress that it is really something they want to share with the community.

"It's somewhere someone can take their kids and shoot and be safe."

Safety was in mind when construction plans were being drawn up for the range.

20-feet-wide berms are being placed between each successive yardage-shooting lane to allow for someone shooting in the 300-yard lane to safely check their targets without worrying about crossfire from a neighboring lane.

"Shooting ranges are inherently very safe," Edvall said.

The club anticipates a donation of 2,000 liliac bushes to grow atop the berms. The lilac roots will help hold the berms together, as well as assist in wind and sound suppression and beautifying the property with lilac hedges hundreds of yards long.

The club has also planted over 18,000 trees around the perimeter of 160 acres of leased land, 40 of which are club owned, and added a 14-foot deep pond

Since the reformation of the Perham Sportsmans Club, summer of 2008, this range has been in planning. Construction began in May of this year.

Slabs were being poured Friday with donated mud from Menahga Concrete and the assistance of concrete workers from Andy Pettow Construction. The slabs, meant for shooting bench tops, need nearly a month to cure and will be ready in time for what organizer's hope is the first week of shooting in late July.

Contributions and volunteerism have been the basis of how most of the work has been completed on the project.

"When I came here, I found out that when people have an idea, most of the community is very supportive, said Vorderbruggen. "There's a can-do attitude in Perham."

"Everybody in Perham has been behind this, not just the club," Edvall said.

Edvall and Vorderbruggen insist the club is meant for instructional, educational and demonstration purposes first. Dog trails and dog training, bird nesting and many other activities are planned for the property. Getting kids involved is also important to the pair.

"Being kid-friendly is the future of this place," Vorderbruggen said.

The club plans to offer Rimfire silhouette shooting, a sport that itself is kid friendly. Rimfire shooting involves shooting at freestanding steel targets that tip over.

"If you can get your kids to want to go out there, this place will fly," he said.

Because of so much community involvement from the volunteers to the Perham Township board, organizers feel a real sense of community involvement and have prioritized this project as something to give back to the community itself.

"Everything we do, none of this money gets mailed out of town," said Edvall. "We don't want to compete; we want to enhance the Perham area. We want everyone to use it. It's all about keeping money here locally and giving back to the community."

The club wishes to thank some of the main contributors to the project including Menahga Concrete for donating mud and block, as well as a 20 percent discount on concrete pouring.

Perham sand and gravel provided dirt work. Andy Pettow Construction for concrete and block work.

Crane Johnson Lumber provided tin for the roofs of shooting benches. Perham Machine and Repair for welding services. Perham Grain and Feed donated grass seed for the lanes.

The Bean Mill provided money and time along with Conservation Specialists, INC., Kitmasters, BHH Partners, Planners and Architects. Mulligan's, Winkelmans, Gene's Sport Shop, Otter Tail Bean Co., along with many individuals who made donations to this effort.

The firing range is not just for club members but club membership does allot free use of the facility.

The club plans on having open range days, mainly on weekends, where club membership is not necessary to come out and shoot. The club will provide supervision. A range cart will also be available to take shooters of the longer lanes to and from their targets.

The range consists of six shooting lanes from 25 yards to 300 in length. Each lane varies in width. The shorter lane is 75 feet wide. The 300-yard lane is 25 feet in width.

The range is located south on State Highway 78. Turn right on Fort Thunder Road, proceed three miles and turn north on Harvest Avenue. The range is a quarter-mile ahead on the left.

For more information on the shooting range or the Perham Sportsmans Club, contact Craig Swanson,, Frank at 218-849-2701 or Dave at 612-597-9644.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

(218) 844-1442