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In California, just west of the city of Ridgecrest, China Lake Naval Weapons Center, and Inyokern have been home to a number of gun clubs, supported with community enthusiasm for competitive and recreational shooting.

As in many other parts of the country, restriction in land use, coupled with commercial and residential land development, frequently displaced shooters, causing them to move from one location to the next, sometimes finding themselves without an organized place to shoot for an extended period of time.

The Sierra Desert Gun Club, with a history dating back to 1948, lost their facilities, and tens of thousands of dollars spent on improvements, in 1992. The China Lake Naval Weapons Center, that served as their base of operation for 30 years, constructed a hanger within the club's range safety zone and ended an agreement with the club for the use of the Center's  high powered rifle range.

The shutdown brought an end to the recreational shooting, organized firearm competition and training services the club had been providing to area residents.

Other area gun clubs found themselves operating out of local area gravel pits with mixed success. The sites provided perfectly acceptable locations for shooting, but with land use controlled through the Bureau of Land Management, future access could sometimes be unpredictable and real investment in facility development is nearly impossible.

 

12 years ago Tom Wiknich, owner of the Ridgecrest GUNS4US gun store, saw the ongoing problems and began a drive to bring permanent range facilities into the area. Tom was soon joined by other area gun enthusiasts, some mentioned earlier, who had lost facilities or just wanted to feel confident there would always be a place to shoot.

A formal committee was established, a plan was constructed and the group began raising money for the project. Financial assistance came from Friends of the NRA and through local donations and personal contribution.

The community's hard work and perseverance was rewarded with the February, 23 2004 opening of the

Ridgecrest Gun Range Association,

The first public range constructed on private property in California in nearly 20 years.

 

Today

The Ridgecrest Gun Range Association is a non-profit organization with an oversight board with representatives drawn from local clubs and the public. Thomas Wiknich serves as the association's president. The facility is situated on 170 acres of land at the intersection of Brown and Wiknich Roads in, Ridgecrest California.

It is one of the largest privately owned shooting ranges in California. While the facility is still under active development, its operations are extensive.

The public section alone currently includes 100, 300 and 600 yard rifle ranges and a 300 yard rifle and pistol range.

The public range is open to individuals and can be rented for club or community shooting competition. There are lots of pictures and information of the facility on the association's web site.

The Sierra Desert Gun Club and Robber’s Roost Vigilantes operate their own ranges within the borders of the Ridgecrest facility, with numerous other clubs in the process of establishing similar arrangements.

Additionally, the site will be used by local law enforcement agencies for training and proficiency testing, by Cerro Coso Community College for training of students enrolled in their Criminal Justice program, and by local firearms instructors to train new shooters in the proper use of firearms and to improve the skill level of current shooters.

The facility is built to NRA range specifications; Ridgecrest expects to have the range certified to hold NRA matches and which will provide a service to other enthusiasts outside of the more immediate area. Recently Coso Archery Club built a bow and arrow competition area within the range facility..

 

And maybe a little help from fellow shooters..
These folks have invested a great deal in personal dollars, time and labor to make the facility a reality. They have overcome bureaucratic roadblocks in a state known for obstructing the ownership and use of firearms and they have offered the facility to the shooting public as an exceptional value: $25/year per person, or $50/year per family membership.The mailing address is:
Ridgecrest Gun Range Association
417 E. Ridgecrest Blvd.
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
760-375-1004