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Vernon Police Department receives NRA grant to help improve shooting range

VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — Hoping to expand training for officers, the Vernon Police Department is turning to an NRA grant for needed updates for its firing range.

According to Chief Wayne Hodges, there’s a lot of potential for the current range, and he hopes to build it into something officers can have a sense of pride in.

“Literally, it was exactly what we were looking for,” Hodges said.

It’s the NRA’s Law Enforcement Range Fund Hodges is talking about. The $12,500 grant will cover half the cost of the $25,000 project.

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The current range is in a grassy field north of town with cardboard cutouts and metal targets.

“It’s largely undeveloped,” Hodges said. “We haven’t made any really significant improvements at all to the range. I mean, we mow it, we keep it up. But that’s, you know, that’s about it.”

The first phase will consist of adding a 21 by 41 concrete slab.

Hodges is eying more improvements in the future to expand training for officers or even to host trainings.

“Some more advanced targeting systems, maybe turning targets or some different barricades,” Hodges said. “[We] want to do more than just meet the standards of what the state says we have to do. And, if we can continue to make these improvements to our range, I think we’ll be able to get there.”

Seeking advanced training like patrol rifle courses, advanced handgun courses and more.

“The more training that you can do as you’re making your officers better, you’re making your department better. It’s a nice location for right now with making the improvements that we want to make,” the chief said. “It will be even that much more appealing to the officers.”

Hodges aims to slowly build over time and improve training quality for his department.

It’s a 50-50 grant, meaning the city must match the remaining amount. But, Hodges said through donations and fundraising, the department can cover the remaining half at no additional cost to the city.

As of Tuesday, April 30, Hodges said the department still lacks about $1,500 but hopes to break ground on the slab in about a month.

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