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Proposed rifle training ground under fire

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BOX ELDER COUNTY -- A new sniper rifle training range in Northern Utah is drawing questions and concerns from some neighboring towns.

Desert Tactical, a company known for manufacturing sniper rifles, is now getting into the business of training people how to use them effectively. But the Box Elder County Commission is asking for the public's input on whether it should give them a permit to do business.

Sniper County general manager Mike Davis says the 25,000 acres of leased property provides the opportunity for unique training.

"We're teaching these guys how to use their rifles in a safe manner," he said. "We've got such a nice, enclosed area with natural backstops everywhere."

We're teaching these guys how to use their rifles in a safe manner. We've got such a nice, enclosed area with natural backstops everywhere.

–Mike Davis

A former Salt Lake County deputy, Davis hopes to attract the likes of SWAT teams, law enforcement, military and hunters. But this learning ground for high-powered rifles is drawing questions from the nearby communities of Plymouth and Portage.

"They don't know who they're bringing in, and it's just new," said Portage town councilman Nick Tree.

He says most people are OK with Sniper Country, though a few concerns have popped up since the unique concept came into town.

"At the time when it was brought up, fire danger and then stray bullets coming into town," Tree said.

Davis says they've made sure their targets are clear of brush and set against a hilly backdrop -- keeping the gunfire contained.

Desert Tactical makes sure it gets background checks on anyone who wants to take the course. This way, it can control who gets behind the rifle.

The Box Elder County Commission has decided to put Sniper Country's request for an operating permit for the next two years up for public comment early next month.

Davis says he has no problem with the idea.

"We want to make this the safest possible place, and we want to get a lot of people out here to learn how to do this stuff safely," he said.


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