BLM: Long-awaited Box Canyon shooting range to open in November

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The opening of the 68-acre Box Canyon Shooting Range has been pushed back to at least January due to delays caused by heavy monsoon rains, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. [William Butler]

Shooting enthusiasts in the area, rejoice. The Box Canyon Shooting Range is scheduled to open in November — finally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The 68-acre facility is within the Box Canyon Recreation Area, a semi-developed 1,072-acre site about 10 miles west of town. Entrance to the facility will be about 1,000 feet west of North Hidden Valley Road.

Chris Wonderly, public affairs specialist for the Phoenix BLM office, said preparations are in the home stretch, although the exact opening date in November has not yet been set.

“We’re in the process of accepting the site from the contractor and going through checklists,” Wonderly said.

Final details include onsite informational signage and maps as well as staffing and operational details.

“The plan is to have staff there on occasion, and especially around opening time,” Wonderly said. “But it is not our intent to have staff onsite during all the hours we are open. They will be there occasionally and as needed.”

Wonderly said the facility can accommodate as many as 90 shooters at a time.

The range will be open seven days a week during daylight hours. In November, that will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer hours will be longer as the hours of daylight increase, Wonderly said.

Cobblestone Farms resident Daryl Siewert, a shooting enthusiast, is among those cautiously optimistic.

“We’ll see,” Siewert said. “They have said they were going to open it before, and it hasn’t happened. I showed up for the original November 2021 opening date and there was no one there. I’ll keep an open mind, and I hope they get it open. It will be good for the area.”

This map shows a rough layout of the shooting range in Box Canyon slated to open in November. the facility is located about 10 miles west of town with its entrance about 1,000 feet west of North Hidden Valley Road. [Bureau of Land Management]

Siewert is eager to see what the facility has to offer and anticipates one benefit: enhanced safety.

“Everyone is just shooting wherever they want to now, because the facility is closed,” he said.

The site has been a popular informal range due to its good shooting backgrounds and proximity to the city. Siewert added that when shooting is done in areas not intended for it, “there is more of a chance of a bullet ricocheting into someone.”

“It’s more dangerous,” Siewert said. “I’m all-in to do this project and I support them spending the money because safety makes sense.”

BLM is adding safety enhancements to improve the experience for shooters, including shooting platforms and designated shooting lanes; berms; permanent targets and areas for several types of guns.

Wonderly said the facility will have the full range of amenities:

  • Three steel targets.
  • One steel target frame.
  • Three 25-, two 50- and two 100-yard shooting lanes.
  • One 200- and one 300-yard shooting lane.
  • Three primary backstop and side containment berms of native material with 6-inch clay liner and secondary backstops.
  • Five 30-foot-wide shooting platforms.
  • Sporting clay/skeet shooting area.
  • 20-foot-wide graded access roads and gravel parking area with handicap spaces.
  • Two vault restrooms (waterless toilets that collect waste in an underground tank or vault). These non-flush toilets are commonly found in remote areas like campgrounds and national parks.
  • Two 12-foot-wide pedestrian crossings.
  • Target area containment basins (3 feet wide) with a 6-inch clay liner.

Among delays in opening the facility cited by Wonderly were supply-chain issues, obtaining required inspections and approvals, and completing a fence on the perimeter of the facility. A fence is required as an adjacent Hazardous Exclusion Area, a buffer around a shooting site, as required by the state to keep hikers and others from wandering onto the range.

The Hazardous Exclusion Area covers 184 acres and is defined by 2.4 miles of wildlife-friendly fencing.