Letter to the Editor — Questions about expanding a gun range

Published 12:15 pm Thursday, September 8, 2022

Dear Editor,

The proposed amendment to the Special Use Permit for Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) expanding the use of their gun range located on the H-SC property at 7128 Farmville Road raises significant questions and concerns. Titus Mohler reported on the original Special Use Permit in The Farmville Herald on 3/11/2021.

The original Special Use Permit (SUP) was for approximately 12 students on the H-SC Sporting Clays Team. Now, H-SC is requesting an expansion of use to include students’ parents, and H-SC alumni and staff. That expands the number of potential users of the gun range significantly and far beyond the bound of the H-SC Clay Sporting team. Why does H-SC need to expand use of this gun range to non-students?

H-SC states that the range will not have more than ten shooters using the range at one time. According to the SUP Amendment, all participants, including parents, alumni and staff “will be properly trained in safety and firearms handling prior to use of the facility.” The original SUP was limited to the estimated 12 students on the H-SC Sporting Clays Team. This amendment expands the potential users to over 10,000 people – 8,000 alumni, 1,800 parents, 300 H-SC faculty and staff. Will H-SC provide proper training in safety and firearms handling to all of these potential users? If training is outside of H-SC, what documentation indicates “proper” training in safety and firearms handling before the applicant can use the gun range?

The original SUP permit was for Clay Sporting Team practices twice a week. H-SC is now requesting weekend events twice a semester. Are these weekend events solely for the benefit of these non-student participants?

If the gun range is now open to H-SC students, parents, alumni and staff, does that mean that they will only use the gun range when there is a H-SC Range Safety Officer present?

The environmental impact of these amendments may affect farmers, hunters and fishermen. How does H-SC propose to mitigate the environmental impact of additional lead in the water runoff into Dickenson Branch that feeds Briery Creek?

These amendments allow a huge expansion of a SUP originally designed solely for the H-SC Sporting Clay Team.

What would your perception be, if you received notice of this amended SUP application and this gun range adjoined your property? Would the lack of details allow you to rest easy if this was occurring next to your family property? There is a public hearing by the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13. We hope the supervisors will get answers to these questions before voting on the Special Use Permit Amendment.

Rosemary “Dolly” Worthy

Janet Worthy Loveless