After a delay due to COVID-19, the Skeet Range at the Sportsmen’s Center finally held it’s opening ceremony, June 24, after undergoing extensive renovations. 

Patrons gathered while remaining socially distant to see all of the changes that had been made to the range.

“The COVID delay and requirements for social distancing may have reduced our ceremony’s impact, but this extensive renovation will remain enjoyable by Soldiers and their family and all clay target shooters of Central Texas for years to come,” Ken Wagner, senior shooting instructor, said as he opened the ceremony.

The range had not seen major renovation since the late 70s and was in need of repair.

“In January of 2019, we were forced to close field three because the high house on that field was no longer safe. The other houses were only marginally better and would have quickly followed. The ranges were literally on their last breath,” Wagner stated.

The renovation project began in April of 2019 where over $700,000 was spent on improvements to the range, which included replacing structures, new fencing, new throwing machines and an underground drainage system, amongst other improvements.

“This facility is now safer and more enjoyable and will be able to be used for many years to come,” Wagner said.

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, attended the ceremony and was the first to shoot on the newly renovated range.

“Any day that starts at the range blowing up bullets is going to be a good day and I needed one,” Efflandt said. “I’m really excited to be here and be a part of the Sportsmen’s Center.”

Efflandt said it’s fitting that the range reopened with the current pandemic to allow a recreational activity for people to do while remaining safe.

“I can’t think of a more coronavirus, pandemic-friendly sport than shooting. You’re spread out, it’s outside where the sun can kill the virus,” Efflandt said. “I think we ought to get more people out of the bars and off the crowded beaches and out here with guns ... in the sun, spread out and shooting.”

Efflandt announced that in a couple of weeks, he will be taking his next posting. Though he’ll be back to the Great Place eventually, he said he was happy to leave it with such a bang as being a part of reopening the range.

“I can’t think of probably a better way to leave Fort Hood than to leave it rededicating the Sportsmen’s Center. Like I said, I’ve spent many enjoyable Saturdays here with bosses, with Soldiers, with family members from out of town,” Efflandt said. “It’s just a great, relaxing activity and just the sense of family that you see at a trap and skeet range is like few other places. When you’re on a trap and skeet range … you meet really nice people. It’s just a really welcoming, an open community where you can have a lot of fun. I think it’s how I like to remember Fort Hood.”