Public shooting ranges reopened at Kleber WMA in Owen County

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 14, 2022) — The public rifle and pistol ranges at John A. Kleber Wildlife Management Area in Owen County are open again following a closure for maintenance and safety improvements.

The rifle range is adjacent to the pistol range on the wildlife management area (WMA). Both are free to use on a first-come, first-served basis. They are open from 9 a.m. (Eastern) until sunset Tuesday through Saturday, and from noon until sunset on Sundays, but closed on Mondays.

During the closure, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources personnel cleared debris from the earthen berm at the back of the rifle range on Kleber WMA because it was obstructing drainage. Visitors also will notice new fencing on either side of the shooting benches has been installed to curtail misuse of the range.

“Public shooting ranges are important facilities for hunters and recreational shooters who may not own or have access to private land to practice their marksmanship," said Brent McCarty, shooting range access coordinator with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “With the youth-only, early muzzleloader and modern gun deer seasons coming up soon, a visit to this or your nearest public shooting range to sight-in a rifle is time and effort well spent. We want everybody to be able to utilize these and other public ranges around the state. Doing so safely and responsibly goes hand-in-hand with that."

Anybody using a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife shooting range must have eye and ear protection and follow all rules posted by signage.

“It's just as important to practice basic firearms safety at a range as in the field," McCarty said.

Conservation officers and public lands staff with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife keep a close watch on range behavior. Locations may be monitored with video surveillance if misuse is evident or has been reported to the department.

“As soon as we download camera footage, and if we see any violations, we prepare to give out citations or even make an arrest," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Cristian Casper said.

A surveillance camera monitoring a different public rifle shooting range in central Kentucky recently captured footage of a man returning to the parking area and shooting a pistol at a parking sign before getting in his car and leaving the area. The activity violated posted rules for the shooting range, where pistols are not allowed and the shooting of rifles is permissible only from the benches and through the tubes.

Conservation officers and area managers also note instances when visitors to ranges have ignored the rules and stepped to the side or in front of the tubes to shoot, set up metal targets down-range, and even shot into the air.

“This kind of behavior is reckless and subject to prosecution," Casper said. “There are rules for a reason; first and foremost is ensuring lawful use of the facility so others have a safe place to learn and practice marksmanship."

Research shows that sport shooters and hunters alike value close, local and easily accessible shooting ranges. Fortunately, the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, established by the Pittman-Robertson Act, provides important grant funds to match state hunting license dollars for building and maintaining shooting ranges.

McCarty leads a Shooting Range Access Planning Team recently formed by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to develop new partnerships and ranges across the state. It's an effort to reduce the distance hunters and shooters must travel to access a range.

As part of its endeavors, the team plans to develop a series of educational videos about range safety tailored to rifle, shotgun and pistol use. An interactive statewide map of shooting ranges also has been developed in recent months. It is available on the department's website at by typing “Kentucky shooting ranges" in the search box.

“Anyone who uses a public shooting range, or buys a firearm or ammunition has an ownership stake in it," McCarty said. “Following the posted rules and shooting only in designated areas helps ensure your personal safety and the safety of others. Vandalism and misuse can lead to extended closures, which inconveniences others who wish to use the range. It also wastes limited time and money spent on repairs, effectively stealing resources from law-abiding hunters and target shooters."

Violations can be reported to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling 1-800-25-ALERT. In an emergency, or when there is an urgent need for law enforcement, calling 9-1-1 remains the best course of action.

Anonymous tips also can be made by texting “KFWLAW" along with a message to 847411 (tip411) or through the KFWLAW app.  The free app can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

“It's up to everyone using the range to work together as a team to keep it safe," McCarty said. “Range safety is a shared responsibility."

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