A state-managed outdoor shooting range between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids reopened Monday, but is closed today after Tuesday night’s torrential rains made the area impassable. Tim Thompson of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says up to eight inches of silt now covers the shooting stations where people stand for target practice.
“It’s just like walking in grease,” Thompson says, with a laugh. “It’s just a muddy mess.”
The Tim Dorr Rifle and Handgun Range at the Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area is normally open from sunrise to sunset, every day of the year, but had been closed for the past six weeks as crews worked to shore up the earthen berms that shooters fire into. The hillsides were seeded with grass last week, but Thompson says the special foam and mulch formula used to “stick” that seed onto the hillside completely washed away, along with all the re-positioned top soil.
“At our headquarters we had 5.85 inches of rain,” Thompson says. “I heard six inches of rain, but basically, this is all on hillsides and it all came down in buckets.”
There’s no charge to use the shooting range. The hillside targets are at 25 feet, 50 feet and 100 feet away and there are 30 separate shooting stations.
“On some of the busy weekends, you may be waiting a half hour to 45 minutes to get a chance to go up and shoot,” Thompson says.
The range is in northwest Johnson County. Thompson expects the range will reopen in mid-July — if the weather cooperates. The silt that’s covering the shooting stations will have to dry out before it can be removed, plus the hillsides will have to dry a bit before the topsoil can be replaced. The final step will be to put more grass seed on the hillsides.
“Hopefully this time Mother Nature gives us a break and gives us an inch of rain at a nice, gentle pace that will just soak it in and help us germinate instead of washing it all out,” Thompson says.
Storms are possible in the area again today.