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The Sound of Freedom: Rapid City Shooting Range Heads to House Approps This Week

The Rapid City shooting range remains alive in the Legislature. The Senate approved Senate Bill 175 on Tuesday, with Senator Joshua Klumb (R-20/Mitchell), who lives 284 miles from the proposed site, saying living next to gunfire is better than living next to green power or a million pounds of manure:

A number of other legislators also stood to suggest the noise and safety complaints of living or playing adjacent to a shooting range were overblown.

“I would much rather have one of these in my backyard than a wind tower or a hog barn,” said Sen. Joshua Klumb, R-Mitchell.

Regarding the sound of shooting, Klumb added, “That sound to me is the sound of freedom” [Christopher Vondracek, “Senate OKs Spending $2.5M on Western South Dakota Shooting Range,” Mitchell Republic, 2022.02.22].

The ranchers and the Bible camp operator who live next to the site still aren’t hearing freedom from this Game Fish & Parks project:

Matt and Marvin Kammerer’s family has been ranching the area since 1882. Matt Kammerer said he doesn’t oppose shooting ranges in general.

“I oppose the way (GF&P and proponents) have acted and the property rights they have tried to stomp on,” he said.

…Rainbow Bible Ranch has been in operation for 42 years. Reinhold said there are children from all over the country who come every year to enjoy peaceful surroundings. Already, [owner Larry] Reinhold said, there are 310 children who have signed up to come to the ranch this summer.

“They enjoy the safety and solitude of the ranch,” Reinhold said. “What is really bothersome to me is there no communication on the part of Game, Fish & Parks with us. At the end of the property where they come to ride and camp out is 2.6 miles from the gun range… We’ve been doing this for 40 years and we know how to handle kids, and we are concerned about the different things that this gun range will bring in. Most of those have not even been addressed” [Nathan Thompson, “Ranchers, Bible Camp Say Game, Fish & Parks Won’t Discuss Proposed Gun Range with Them,” Rapid City Journal, 2022.02.26].

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose federal dollars the state is seeking to subsidize this project, does not comment on the sound of freedom but says the Rapid City shooting range “will not have impacts to the wetlands, floodplains, or farmland, will not affect historical and cultural resources, will not have any effect on threatened, endangered or candidate species, and will have minimal effect on the vegetation in the area or on local fish and wildlife and their habitats.” The Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment through March 20 on a draft environmental assessment prepared by GF&P and posted to the FWS website on February 18. The assessment makes its first error in discussing the “Need” for this gun playground:

SD GF&P, Initial Environmental Assessment, Rapid City Shooting Range, prepared 2022.02.17, posted by USFWS 2022.02.18, p. 7.
SD GF&P, Initial Environmental Assessment, Rapid City Shooting Range, prepared 2022.02.17, posted by USFWS 2022.02.18, p. 7.

A 400-acre playground where gun enthusiasts can play run-and-gun may be fun, but it is a want, not a need. Unless Putin expands his invasion plans from Kyiv to Keystone, there’s no need for anyone in South Dakota to fire a single round.

The draft environmental assessment states that GF&P worked with area realtors to search for a suitable property and formed a stakeholder group in February 2021 “consisting of shooting enthusiasts, city and state officials, local gun and shooting clubs, area retailers, and other interested parties.” That statement does not mention including neighboring landowners as stakeholders, which is one of the neighboring landowners chief complaints. But GF&P lists [pp. 22–23] 30 public meetings from January 21, 2021, through January 4, 2022. That list shows “Meet with surrounding landowner”, singular, on February 3 and July 12, 2021 and “Area landowner meeting” on January 3, 2022. That January 3 meeting was the meeting with neighboring ranchers at the Joe Norman ranch that followed a contentious hearing at the Meade County Commission. The list shows three meetings with industry partners, two with economic development group Elevate Rapid City, and six with the stakeholder group.

The draft environmental assessment cites the originally reported cost of the project as $9.9 million, despite the fact that a subsequent press report pegged the price at $12 million.

The draft environmental assessment includes a cultural resources survey that reports the identification in October of five sites of interest to American Indian archaeology, one of which, a “stone cairn site of unknown temporal or cultural affiliation,” is recommended by the state historical society for the National Register of Historic Places. GF&P says it can dig around that stone cairn to avoid disturbing it. GF&P does not recommend one logical conclusion, that perhaps the shooting range could add some excitement and realism by allowing American Indians to set up camp at that archaeological site, located apparently at a high point on the ridge that slants northwest–southeast through the project area, and shoot back at the white folks on the gun playground.

GFP, map of archaeological sites at proposed Rapid City shooting range. 39MD1025 is the stone cairn recommended for National Register of Historic Places. 2022.02.18, p. 15.
GFP, map of archaeological sites at proposed Rapid City shooting range. 39MD1025 is the stone cairn recommended for National Register of Historic Places. 2022.02.18, p. 15.
Stone cairns identified on ridge through proposed Rapid City shooting range, Matthew D. Busch, Archeological Research Center, "A Class III Intensive Cultureal Resources Survey for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Rapid City Firearms Range Complex, Meade County, South Dakota," prepared for Game Fish & Parks, 2021.11.12, p. 16.
Stone cairns identified on ridge through proposed Rapid City shooting range, Matthew D. Busch, Archeological Research Center, “A Class III Intensive Cultureal Resources Survey for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Rapid City Firearms Range Complex, Meade County, South Dakota,” prepared for Game Fish & Parks, 2021.11.12, p. 16.

GF&P says the Department of Agriculture (and Natural Resources) “has reviewed the preferred location on November 15, 2021” and will require that GF&P prevent water contaminated with lead from running off the site. GF&P promises to follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges,” which environmental advocate Nancy Hilding told them at their last Legislative committee hearing they’ll have trouble following on such sloped land. GF&P vows to take these steps:

  • Control and contain spent rifle and pistol ammunition with earthen backstops and utilize natural vegetation to control and contain spent shot on the trap range.
  • Prevent migration of lead from reaching nearby waterways by leaving existing perimeter berms in place and introduce engineered runoff controls to include but are not limited to; ground contouring, dams, and dikes to keep all lead shot contained within the footprint of the outdoor shooting range.
  • Remove and recycle lead shot as needed by utilizing the services of a commercial lead recycler.
  • Documenting lead management activities will be the responsibility of GFP [GF&P, 2022.02.18, p. 17].

In Section 4.12, GF&P says sure, construction and ongoing operations will increase but won’t hurt anyone’s hearing or “pose a disturbance to nearby residents.” But in Section 3.13, GF&P says it has not taken any decibel readings at the site. That gap in the planning just begs for some scientifically minded neighbors to send a couple of shooters to the range with a variety of firearms (and preferably, GF&P permission to conduct science) and open fire while neighbors on the surrounding properties take decibel readings on the sound of freedom with their smartphones.

Neighbors may map and plot those decibel readings and submit them along with other public comment through March 20 to Chief, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO, 80225 or electronically to

But the House will propose or dispose of the state’s funding for this project before March 20. Senate Bill 175 was originally referred to House Agricultural and Natural Resources, but perhaps remembering that HANR is who listened to ranchers and killed the House version of the shooting range funding in January, Speaker Spencer Gosch re-referred SB 175 to House Appropriations. No hearing date has been set yet, but committees have to clear all bills by this week Thursday, March 3, and House Appropriations already has 29 bills on is next four days’ agendae.

One more photo from the cultural resources survey: an intrepid investigator bravely searches for valuable American Indian artifacts under the wary gaze of bovine sentinels, in Busch, 2021.11.21, p. 22.
One more photo from the cultural resources survey: an intrepid investigator bravely searches for valuable American Indian artifacts under the wary gaze of bovine sentinels. Perhaps the sound of freedom is a long, unhurried Moo. Busch, 2021.11.21, p. 22.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-02-27 07:42

    The grassland fire danger index will be in the very high category tomorrow for all of Meade County and it’s not even March yet. Imagine the carnage when a lightning strike, a passing vehicle or some careless shooter ignites the range fire that incinerates this proposed complex and the 175 Republicans enjoying it have nowhere to escape.

    Oh, wait.

  2. RST Tribal Member 2022-02-27 08:23

    The gun and bullet lobbyist are winning.
    Money talks good governance walks.

    How about a Buffalo hunt during the Noem annual buffalo roundup? The buddies of Noem, the Pure Bison partnership, can be on hand to crave up the fallen for transport or sale. Law enforcement can setup a swap meet to sell the guns and bullets they came across searching cars and homes. The inept inbred republicans can sell accessories like trump hats and trump flags as these items are a guarantee sale. By then Trump’s buddy Putin might have items available for the white privilege domestic terrorists to purchase for their trip to Washington to lobby for Trump and his buddies.

    Of course if Putin joined the truck pool to Washington, he would stop in Sioux Falls to make a withdraw from his state protected bounty parked there for safe keeping.

    Or, if common sense could be found, the inept inbred republicans in Pierre could just take the bullet and gun lobbying funds and put this legislation in the Another Bad Idea bin.

  3. sx123 2022-02-27 08:24

    Noem needs to start nuclear war preparedness discussion with South Dakotans instead of worry about this goofy shooting range. Putin put his nuclear forces on alert.

  4. 96Tears 2022-02-27 08:25

    Pandering to ammosexuals is the only reason that explains this shooting range. This is a classic boondoggle. It’s a dumb idea. If it’s as important as the NoemBots claim, then why isn’t the private sector building it?

    And as for the sound of freedom, gunshots? Really? The folks around Kyiv and Kharkiv must be feeling downright giddy from all that freedom noise.

  5. Jake 2022-02-27 08:55

    Really, now, the comment re; ‘the sound of freedom’ was certainly expected from a legislature of this state.
    Look at their substantial efforts/fears over bathroom (who’s in which), women impregnated by rape and incest forced to carry to term, legal to pass on a deadly disease to public, and welfare for the rich.

  6. John 2022-02-27 09:15

    Consider the following when one makes comments on the EA and to SD legislators – in addition to want vs “need” and the superficial archaeological review.

    3) At least a dozen shooting ranges exist within an hour of the proposal and receive partial SD GFP funding. The fact that a dozen ranges are in use mitigates any want or need for the project. The EA must gather a 20 year look back at the SDGFP and state resources sunk into these other shooting ranges. The proposal should ensure the SD GFP ceases all future funding to these dozen of mostly public shooting ranges – even those on GFP property. While unable to find a definitive list, search for shooting ranges in the Rapid City area. Be aware there are several data sets and they differ. For example, the range outside of Lead appears on no list, though it’s on BLM land.
    4) Consider paraphrasing the excellent testimony from John Wrede:

  7. jerry 2022-02-27 09:23

    Will Native youth be able to train in the use of tactical skills for urban warfare there? Old fat white guys shouldn’t be the only ones who train to blast. Native’s should be given instructions on how to load, aim, shoot and move in an urban or any kind of setting. Not only that, but those trainees should be taught the complete nomenclature of the weapons, especially the care, safety and maintenance.

  8. 96Tears 2022-02-27 09:58

    Listening to CBS Sunday Morning while paging through the Sunday paper, I stopped for a commentary on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It repeated this past week’s quote from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech:

    “And when you will be attacking us, you will see our faces, not our backs, but our faces.”

    What a contrast to the perversion dullards like Sen. Joshua Klumb define as freedom during the same week to protect a boondoggle shooting range:

    “That sound to me is the sound of freedom.”

    Apparently, freedom has a different meaning when you’re standing 5,231 miles from Mitchell, South Dakota.

  9. buckobear 2022-02-27 10:10

    So we’re gonna spend 9 million bucks to defend that approaching fiscal cliff?

  10. Walleye 2022-02-27 10:54

    GFP has raised the price of a fishing license, the campground fees, a state park entrance sticker, and of course added the $10 Habitat Stamp you have to buy. Plus there is a $4 fee to purchase this on their handy new app. It would have been nice not to have made all these cost increases in the same year!! Guess guns are more important, huh :(

  11. Sion G. Hanson 2022-02-27 11:37

    This shooting range is a bad idea and needs to be scrapped. End of subject.

  12. Vi Kingman 2022-02-27 12:11

    Okay Klumb, get them to move it next to your place then.
    I’m guessing there are some pig farmers in Davison County who didn’t care for that comment.

  13. Uncle Joe 2022-02-27 13:40

    So there is a Native American cairn located on the property. The promise has been made they will dig around it. It will not be disturbed. What about the ground around it? What is the perimeter of ground around it that is considered sacred? Are they going to protect this area from the visitors trampling into the ground.
    I am wondering if any hog confinement or cattle yard or chicken or egg facility would get the same vaguely worded environmental assessment as this shooting range when they apply for a permit.
    Lastly tradition has it that hunting and drinking alcohol at the same time is acceptable. Are they going to search every vehicle to make sure it doesn’t happen here. They must protect all from the idiots who will push the rational reasoning behind this as being their right and freedom demands it

  14. Donald Pay 2022-02-27 13:55

    I regret I haven’t had a lot of time recently to check into this boondoggle, but Nancy Hilding is involved and she is pretty darn good at looking at the environmental issues. Basically, the EPA guidance on this is pretty weak. The assumption is that all runoff will be kept on-site, a bad assumption if there are large storms on this topography. This is the same argument Technical Information Project had on the water discharge from the heap leach gold mines, and EPA did agree with us that NPDES permitting was requried when we filed the notice of a citizen suit. Since engineered runoff controls are recommended, there is an argument that could be made for an NPDES permit requiring monitoring for lead in the discharge water and imposition of standards, if and when the water moves through and past the engineered controls or into any shallow groundwater. I would suggest regular visual and aerial monitoring through drones to make sure water is contained. And where it is contained, there should be monitoring. I wouldn’t trust any government agency to do this. At TIP, we found the authorities could not be trusted. I would check into the possibility of a citizen suit on the NPDES aspects.

  15. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-27 15:02

    Well…what happened to the looming fiscal cliff??? We have to keep the sales tax on food, we can’t invest in bringing our ambulance services up to national standards, and forget doing anything about affordable insurance and health care…can’t afford it. A state of the art multi-million dollar shooting range…you bet…we got the money. Insane….just nuts.

  16. Donald Pay 2022-02-27 16:25

    Well, Arlo, you ask some great rhetorical questions, It is just nuts, but that’s the SD Legislature. There is a lot of puffing and posturing, tsk-tsking and “so sorrying” about lack of revenue, but in the end, they always find the money to fund the wrong things and let real needs go wanting.

  17. Mark Anderson 2022-02-27 16:55

    Actually Klumb it sounds like deranged house builders. I know that sounds dumb Klumb, but it does. Maybe you can gather all your loving shooters and go to the Ukraine and fight for freedom against the genius your self proclaimed genius leader loves. When those two were in the spotlight together, everyone had to wear shades.

  18. 96Tears 2022-02-27 17:02

    Dana Hess on New Year’s Eve wrote the defining playbook of the 2022 Legislature, which is why he refused to cover another one for the press.

    “I just couldn’t take the crazy any longer. I couldn’t take the effort wasted on legislation that’s designed to bully and hurt. I couldn’t muster the vigor it takes to write objectively about resolutions that are good for nothing more than political posturing.”


    “In journalism circles in South Dakota, we often bemoan the fact that there are fewer and fewer reporters writing about the Legislature. Now there’s one less and I feel bad about that. But not bad enough to force myself back into the press box and try to write objectively about legislation and resolutions that I know are by turns silly, symbolic, wrong-headed and cruel.”

    Perhaps he sounded off too little, too late. Don and Arlo, you’re on the money. It’s just nuts. The blame belongs with voters who don’t care to know what happens in Pierre. It is their fault. Every two years, they have the final say, except when this Republican governor decides her will takes precedence over the vote of the people.

  19. DaveFN 2022-02-27 17:16


    Indeed, freedom does have a different meaning in Ukraine than in South Dakota.

    President Zelenskyy supports the free distribution of medical cannabis, free abortion, the legalisation of prostitution and gambling, and opposes the legalisation of weapons.

    By-and-large, elected officials in South Dakota would consider that alone reason enough to come down on the side of Putin rather than champion Zelenskyy.

  20. Mary D 2022-02-27 19:36

    Wonder how many of these gun slingers would be willing to stand for their real freedom as the citizens of Ukraine are doing now? They call not wearing a mask to help their neighbors “freedom.” ha.

  21. jerry 2022-02-28 09:28

    Go to Ukraine!! Tough guys, forget about taxpayer dollars to fund your short manhood, show us the real deal. Go to Ukraine and show your chops.

    All you need is a passport and bring your own Kevlar and other supply’s, the Ukrainian embassy will tell you what you should bring with you. You fellas already have that stockpiled, so get on with it. There is no need for this taxpayer funded plaything when you can do the real thing in real time. Blonde girls too!!

  22. Kyle 2022-02-28 11:41

    There have been a lot of negative comments about this concept, but I think a lot of them miss the mark.

    First, as to need, I can tell you from personal experience that there is no good public place in the Rapid City area where a person can shoot beyond about 230 yards. There are two spots along Beretta Road where that distance is possible, with most being much shorter. None of the existing public ranges in the Rapid City area provide for long-range rifle shooting.

    Second, Beretta Road is a far from ideal option. A small creek runs adjacent to the northern reaches of the road, and there are zero lead mitigation measures in place there. If they have any sort of lead mitigation and recycling plan in place for the planned range, it is likely to be a superior environmental option compared to what currently exists. It is also not always the safest – I have found myself having to abruptly hold my fire as someone traipses unannounced towards my target area to set up their own targets.

    I will happily grant that the execution of this project has not been great. In particular, the lack of consultation with neighboring landowners and local governments has been really disappointing. Any shooting range is a NIMBY project, and greater communication and planning should occur to address the concerns of those who will be directly impacted. It is also perfectly valid to question whether limited public funds should go to one project versus another in just about any situation. The same sort of arguments can be made about any public recreation facility (pools, gyms, tennis courts, trails, parks, etc.) The arguments that this is just a totally unnecessary project are faulty though, and sometimes disingenuous. I would gladly use the facility, as would many others.

  23. larry kurtz 2022-02-28 12:19

    Vapid City is growing so far out of its footprint it will get to that intersection sooner than later and will be in hundreds of backyards and developers like Jim Scull are salivating over it.

    In my dreams there is a wildlife corridor running parallel west of the Missouri River at least 50 miles wide so the faster the feds buy or lease some of that ground the better.

    Rewild the West.

  24. jerry 2022-02-28 13:43

    Kyle, The Ukraine awaits your arrival. You can shoot to your heart’s content bro. Get on with it, all’s you need is a passport. Go get’m tiger.

  25. cibvet 2022-02-28 13:47

    Kyle–you may have missed Jerry’s post above yours. You want long range shooting, try Ukraine. They will pay you, no taxpayer funds involved.

  26. JW 2022-02-28 20:49

    Kyle of course is badly mistaken: There is plenty of room at not only the Fall River Gun Club range, open to the public, to shoot at distances out to 800 yards. But, the larger question is, what hunter or even responsible gun owner would want to shoot or practice at distances beyond 250 yards. The Bad River Sportsmans Club has a well developed range, open to the public that permits shooting out to 500 yards. Even the small but well constructed range at Wall allows shooting out to 300 yards and beyond. He is right about Berretta Road but that is why the Forest Service has left it as is as a “sacrifice area”. Currently, there is no “small creek” on the main shooting complex on Berretta Road. There is a small, intermittent stream further to the NW where all the “slop over” from Berretta Road goes with their blasters. They’ve destroyed that area too. The issue isn’t safety or a place to shoot. The issue is vandalism, property damage, and shooter irresponsibility that will continue in places like Beretta Road regardless if this range is built because it has increased in intensity with the construction of the ranges we’ve built up in the last 10 years to include the Spearfish Canyon Range, The Fall River County Range and the Private Buffalo Chip range that can be expanded without any help from the state. Truthfully, The state of South Dakota had a state of the art shooting facility just west of Ft. Pierre along Hiway 14, albeit it was owned privately by The Varmint Hunter’s Association. It went defunct due to the lack of interest in long range shooting. There is a well developed multi station range just outside of Ft, Pierre on COE land that can accommodate long distance shooting but nobody from the Rapid City area wants to drive 170 miles anymore so than somebody from Pierre and Ft. Pierre wants to drive the same distance. This EA is full of holes and fallacies as one might expect from the incompetence that prepared it.

  27. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-28 22:08

    Dave FN is really on to something regarding Klumb’s necktie knot…he obviously was never in ROTC or any other part of the military service including Boy Scouts. And…he obviously won’t ask anybody for help, advise or assistance…and..he thinks he’s so cool no one will notice he’s got a wad of Wrigleys holding his tie together.

  28. Kyle 2022-03-01 09:56

    JW at least provides an informed response rather than pure snark (though it still sneaks in there).

    It sounds like I’ll have to check out the Fall River range – they only advertise distances up to 200 yards online. Wall apparently has a range east of town somewhere, but they don’t seem to want anyone to find it.

    Its definitely nitpicking to distinguish between a “small stream” and an “intermittent creek.” No matter what its called, there is flowing water that can pick up lead. That portion of the road also gets plenty of use.

    Last fall a member of my hunting party took his deer from about 350 yards. If practiced, that is an easier and more humane shot than trying to hit a moving target from almost any range. It is not uncommon to encounter long-range shot opportunities in the vast open spaces of western South Dakota.

  29. larry kurtz 2022-03-01 10:10

    EPA is hosting a lead listening session today
    for Region 8; it serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 28 Tribal Nations.

    The grassland fire danger index will be in the very high category today for all of Meade County.

  30. Uncle Joe 2022-03-01 12:55

    If members of the legislature no are so comfortable having shooting ranged next to ballparks and soccer fields then surely they could build this one close to Rapid City. From what I have read majority of users would live in Rapid City. It would be much easier to get there for them as well as emergency service vehicles. And it would put the responsibility of.paying the expenses where the users live instead of on the backs of Meade county and the neighboring ranchers

  31. Uncle Joe 2022-03-01 13:24

    I read this article “Meade county ranchers.”.. On Google. Colton Hall is the author on NewsCenter1. It’s not on the local news websites at all. Too controversial?

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