Shooting sports park hits a bullseye: DNR gives $420,000 for planned shooting sports park near Bemidji

BEMIDJI — The proposed shooting sports park northwest of Bemidji snagged a six-figure grant Thursday.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced it has given Beltrami County a $400,000-plus grant toward development of the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park to be located near Highway 89 south of Jackpine Road.

The Legislature last year approved more than $2 million for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs for developing public trap shooting sports facilities, with a special emphasis on encouraging youth participation.

The roughly $1.75 million Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park is planned to take up about 200 acres of the 360-acre Northland Regional Sports Park, a multi-use sporting facility intended to promote outdoor recreation. The Shooting Sports Park will serve as a firearms training center and gun range for pistol, shotgun and rifle shooting.  

Mark Farabee, chairman of the Headwaters Shooting Sports Association, said Thursday that public funding for shooting sports was relatively scarce, so the DNR grant was a big victory for the park.

“We hit the jackpot,” he said.

Bryan Hammitt, Bemidji High School Clay Target team coach, hailed the decision as giving an opportunity for his shooters to have a place to practice and to compete.

“This is great news for the Bemidji High School clay target team, as well as other school districts in the region,” Hammitt said in the release. “Greater Bemidji area teams will be able to use the facility to compete in sectional and invitational high school clay target league matches.”

However, there are still several hurdles organizers need to overcome if they want construction on the park to begin this year.

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners need to approve the grant, in a vote likely to take place at their May 5 meeting, Farabee said.

“I can’t say for sure it’s going to happen this year, it’s up to the county board,” he said.

If the board signs off on the grant, the next step is to try find a contractor willing and able to start construction work in the fall, he added.

“There’s only a couple of firms in the area … and we want to use a local contractor,” he said.


By: Zach Kayser