GRAND ISLAND, Neb.- You could say the welcome mat is out for Nebraskans at the Heartland Public Shooting Park in Grand Island. Operators say the facility is one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest. "We are a city-owned facility, we are actually owned by the city of Grand Island," Heartland Public Shooting Park Superintendent Bill Starkey said. "We are a part of the parks and recreation department, and we are 420 acres, and this is a park that's been in existence for about 12 years."
Starkey said there is plenty for the public to experience. At the park visitors can shoot hand guns, rifles, shotguns, and there is also 3-D archery. "On the shotgun side, we have all of the shotgun sports," Starkey said. Those categories include skeet, trap and sporting clays. As you might imagine, safety comes first at the shooting park. "On our rifle and handgun ranges, we have range safety officers here 100% of the time when you are shooting," Starkey said. "So you can feel safe on the range shooting, but more importantly, you know the other person next to you is being safe as well."
A number of national competitions come to the shooting park every year. The National 4-H Championships are held at the park annually. The land that the park sits on has qutie a history to it. "This used to be the old Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant," Grand Island Parks and Recreation Director Todd McCoy said. "Back in World War II and before, they were building bombs out here, and obviously the military had a presence. When that need was over, the city purchased the property, it was re-developed ,and what you see here is the Heartland Public Shooting Park."
Operators of the park say there are three big factors for the success of the park. They point to a great volunteer base, a supportive city government, and a community that cares. "Really this is a diamond for Nebraska," Starkey said. "It draws so many people in from all across the country."