Club Has Sights On Being A Big Bang For Sportsmen

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The Tonto Rim Sports Club might be the best kept secret in the Rim Country.

Although it boasts more than 600 members and maintains a state of the art shooting range south of Payson, the TRSC doesn't attract the public attention some members would like to see.

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"Cowboy Shoots" are among the activities the Tonto Rim Sports Club hosts each year. In them, shooters dress in Old West garb and shoot vintage firearms.

"We have great facilities, but there are those who don't even know we exist or where the range is located," TRSC member Otto Weeden said.

In an effort to attract more public attention, the TRSC has scheduled a Sportsman Awareness Day at the Jim Jones Shooting Range Oct. 30. The event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there is no admission or fees.

The day will feature black powder, archery and cowboy shooting demonstrations as well as several hands-on opportunities, with equipment provided by the TRSC.

"We will have a range safety officer there to help individuals who would like to shoot .22 (rifles) or try their hand at archery target shooting," Weeden said. "We'll have some fun targets, maybe balloons."

In addition to the Sportsman Awareness Day, the range is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p .m. each Saturday.

The fee is $5 per person, with no charge for children under 18.

During the hours the range is available to the public, a volunteer safety officer is on duty.

The TRSC

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The Jim Jones range south of Payson features a the high-power facility where all rifles are allowed and target frames are set up at 100 and 200 yards.

The sports club was founded in 1979 with an expressed purpose of encouraging organized and safe shooting among Rim Country sportsmen.

Members are taught safe handling and proper care of firearms and have the opportunity to improve marksmanship on the range.

TRSC's creed states, "It is a further purpose of the club to foster the development of those characteristics of honesty, good fellowship, self-discipline, team play and self-reliance. These are the essentials of good sportsmanship and the foundation of patriotism."

The club produces a monthly newsletter and hosts a number of organized monthly competitions. TRSC meetings are held at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at the Payson American Legion building. Guests are welcome.

Membership in the TRSC is open to any United States citizen, and the yearly dues are $35.

"We also encourage our members to join the (National Rifle Association)," Weeden said. "About 68 percent (of the members) have joined NRA."

The range

The Northern Gila County Shooting Range began operating in 1981 under a United States Forest Service Special Use Permit.

Since its inception, the range has been developed, maintained and operated by TRSC.

The facility has since been renamed the Jim Jones Shooting Range, in honor of the late Gila County supervisor who helped secure the permit and design the facility.

In addition to hosting public and club member shooting activities, the range is used by several law enforcement agencies, including the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Payson Police Department, Gila County Sheriff's Office, Arizona Game and Fish, U.S. Forest Service, National Guard and the FBI.

"The Boy Scouts also use it," Weeden said.

The facility features three ranges -- high-power rifle, covered training and archery.

On the high-power range, all rifles are allowed and target frames are set up at 100 and 200 yards.

The covered training range is for pistols only, but rifles may be used during training or match shooting.

No firearms are allowed on the archery ranges, and target frames are located at 50 and 60 yards.

"It's a great facility and we are hoping to make it even better by obtaining some grants," Weeden said.

The improvements could possibly include additional parking, a 14-lane field archery range and a picnic area.

The range is located south of Payson and east of Highway 87. Take the first left turn .4 of a mile past milepost 249, then drive 1.8 miles to the range.

For more information about the upcoming Sportsman Awareness Day, the range or TRSC, call Weeden at (928) 472-4279.

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