Governor, First Lady dedicate Deer Creek Shooting Range
PUTNAMVILLE — In Putnam County to open a new shooting range on Department of Natural Resources land in Warren Township, Gov. Eric Holcomb revealed Thursday that his heart may be with a different sporting activity popular with Hoosiers.
“I was told last week we were going to open a shooting range and I put my basketball in the car,” the new governor commented to a round of laughs.
The new governor’s wife Janet, on the other hand, is a certified firearms instructor who during the ceremony emphasized that the sport of target shooting attracts more participants than “traditional” sports such as golf, soccer, tenns and football.
“Shooting sports are an important recreational pursuit for many Hoosiers, and Janet and I are delighted to kick off the opening of this modern facility that provides a safe, attractive environment for enthusiasts,” Holcomb said.
The new range is the latest addition to Deer Creek Fish and Wildlife Area, a 2,162-acre facility in southern Putnam County, most of which was acquired by the DNR in a transfer of old Putnamville State Farm Land from the Department of Correction in 2010.
Already a local destination for hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, the facility added target shooting to its offerings on Thursday, but not until after ceremonial first shots from “the First Outdoorswoman,” as Gov. Holcomb referred to the first lady.
She also had the honor on a special occasion.
“It is her birthday,” Gov. Holcomb said. “I won’t say which birthday because she is such a good shot.”
After firing several rounds at the pistol range and popping some celebratory balloons, Janet Holcomb made way for members of the public to use the range.
“What better way to spend your birthday?” she commented to a facility staff member.
The new range is on a 44-acre parcel in the southeast corner of Deer Creek FWA off State Road 243. It features 33 shooting stations at distances of 10, 25, 50 or 100 yards, plus a four-station shotgun range.
A building houses range staff, retail space for associated shooting supplies and restrooms.
The project cost $2.8 million and was paid for by a combination of funds from the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The Service covered 75 percent through the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, often referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Fund. In its 80th year, the federal program has shared almost $10 billion with states for on-the-ground projects like the Deer Creek shooting range.
“This new range adds to our growing inventory of modern shooting facilities at DNR Fish & Wildlife Areas,” DNR Director Cameron Clark said. “Like ranges at Atterbury, Kingsbury, Roush Lake, and Willow Slough, this facility gives target shooters and hunters another quality venue polish their skills.”
Deer Creek comprises rolling interspersed agriculture and mature oak-hickory woods. A 4-acre pond in the north section offers fishing for bass, bluegill and catfish. Its namesake stream – Deer Creek – winds through the south section of the property. A smaller, unnamed creek crosses the north section.
Planning for the public shooting range started in 2013, with construction starting in 2016.
A concessionaire will manage the range for DNR. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
For more information, visit deercreekrange.org or call (765) 267-3032.