Shooting ranges in White City that shut down July 1 reopen today with a new requirement that users sign a liability waiver before they target practice.
“If you refuse to sign it, you’re about to steal county services,” said Phil Grammatica, president of the Rogue Valley Shooting Sports Association.
If the waiver isn’t signed, then using the range is considered theft of county property, Grammatica explained.
The 18 shooting ranges were forced to close because the insurance carrier dropped coverage after a man was injured by a piece of debris that flew back during target practice.
The claim filed by the man, described only as in his 70s and a longtime visitor, has been settled out of court, a member of the association said.
Grammatica said the National Rifle Association agreed to provide coverage for the ranges as long as the ranges and their users strictly adhered to the new rules.
The association also will have a range officer on site who will verify whether users have filled out the waiver.
The waiver requires a printed name, signature, date and the day-pass number. However, no identification is required.
According to the waiver, only cardboard targets are allowed and all safety rules must be followed. No glass, metal or rocks can be used as targets.
The waiver spells out that the shooting ranges involve potentially hazardous and dangerous activity with the risk of personal injury, including death and loss or damage to personal property.
In addition, ear and eye protections are required at all times during target practice, Grammatica said. Previously, protection was recommended but not required.
“We’re trying to make a safe, clean asset for the county,” Grammatica said.
The NRA insurance will cost less than $2,000 a year, compared with $6,700 under the canceled policy.
Bob Drysdale, president of the Medford Rifle and Pistol Club and treasurer of the shooting sports association, said the association’s goal now is to have one ranger on site all the time.
Eventually, another ranger could be posted at the entrance to make sure the money is collected and the waivers signed.
However, rangers will be checking the box periodically to make sure all the visitors are honest citizens, Drysdale said.
“Either they’re paying and signing the waivers, or they’re going to have to leave,” he said. In some cases, the rangers could call for backup from the sheriff, he said.
Another area of the shooting ranges is set aside for 19 law enforcement agencies, but these weren’t impacted by the shutdown because police carry their own insurance.
Each range is designed for different types of target practice, including pistol, rifle, muzzle loader, bow and shotgun.
The complex is open year-round, though the hours of operation vary. The shooting sports association and Jackson County put in new bathrooms at a cost of $70,000, Drysdale said.
A fee of $5 per shooter is required. Yearly passes are available for $25 for individuals and $40 for families.
Organized shooting groups that use the complex include the Medford Rifle and Pistol Club, 4-H shooting groups, the Long Range Rifle Shooters, hunter education groups, and cowboy action shooters.