When the Bureau of Land Management missed the target on a March opening for its new Box Canyon Shooting Range, many local shooters were hoping the delay would be brief.
Last month’s launch date was postponed as construction continues on fences, berms, targets and signs, according to Chris Wonderly, public affairs specialist for BLM, which is developing and managing the venue off Hidden Valley Road.
In fact, construction delays and the arrival of Arizona’s fire season means Box Canyon may not open for several months, he said.
BLM often closes shooting facilities during fire season — May to late fall, typically — to prevent wildfires, after on-the-ground assessments of current danger levels.
“We understand people are eager” for the opening at Box Canyon, but “it could be after fire season that the facility opens,” he said.
The 68-acre facility is located within the Box Canyon Recreation Area, a semi-developed 1,072-acre site west of Maricopa.
The site is already a popular informal range. The entrance to the new facility will be about 1,000 feet west of North Hidden Valley Road, about 1.3 miles south of West Farrell Road. The facility would be able to accommodate up to 90 shooters at a time, BLM has said.
Set targets will be maintained by BLM with plenty of places for all types of shooting, including shooting lanes of different lengths – 100 and 200 yards, for example – to accommodate many different types of firearms.
In addition to the defined shooting platforms, lanes, natural and man-made backstops, an adjacent, 184-acre Hazardous Exclusion Area will be defined by about 2.4 miles of 4-strand, wildlife-friendly perimeter fencing. The barrier is designed to keep hikers and other outdoor recreationists away from the shooting range.
The facility also will have a sporting clay/skeet shooting area and two restrooms.
Jay Taylor contributed to this report.