AUSTIN — South Texas College (STC) is partnering with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to construct an indoor target range at the College’s new Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in Pharr, TX.
During a press conference held Nov. 29 at the Texas State Capitol, South Texas College was awarded $307, 219 for the planning phase of a 13,300 square foot indoor 12-lane target range through TPWD’s Target Range Grant Program.
Upon completion of the planning phase and environmental compliance grant requirements, South Texas College is eligible to receive a grant for the construction of the range in the amount of $2,447,382, totaling to $2,754,601 in grant funds. This grant funding is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, supported by sportsmen’s dollars derived from the sale of hunting licenses and by federal excise taxes on sporting arms and ammunition as authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act.
South Texas College also plans to contribute $1,280,775 toward this project. The total combined funds for this project amount to $4,035,376.
The target range will be open to the public for firearms safety training, practice shooting, and skills development. In addition to the target range, the College will also provide educational opportunities, including face-to-face Hunter Education courses approved by TPWD and led by certified Texas Hunter Education instructors.
TPWD’s Target Range Grant Program Coordinator Renan Zambrano explains why the Target Range Program is important.
“The goal of the program is to create public access for recreational shooting opportunities and to enhance educational resources by promoting firearm and hunting safety,” said Zambrano. “We accomplish this by partnering on target range stewardship projects with nonprofit, private, and civic organizations with common objectives for providing safe, responsible and ethical firearm education and target range facilities for the general welfare of the community. We believe this project in particular is uniquely suited to serve the needs across several Rio Grande Valley communities.”
The College’s Law Enforcement Academy and the College Department of Public Safety will also benefit from access to this state-of-the art target range facility.
South Texas College’s Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence center is dedicated to all local, state, and federal law enforcement, public safety, and fire science professionals.
South Texas College Chairman of the Board of Trustees Paul Rodriguez says this unique collaboration will benefit the region.
“Our board of trustees is pleased to pursue the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Target Range Program as it aligns extremely well with the type of training and educational programs we envisioned for our Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence,” said Rodriguez. “The prospect of having this type of facility for the general public as well as law enforcement agencies is ideal.”
The college will be seeking additional funds to expand the target range to the law enforcement community in the future; STC President, Dr. Shirley A. Reed, says access to the covered target range will assist law enforcement professionals in receiving first-rate firearm training.
“South Texas College is excited to partner with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This target range will not only provide hunter education and general public education opportunities, but will also lay the groundwork for an expanded facility to provide state-of-the-art firearms training and qualification opportunities for our many law enforcement and public safety partners.”
Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen stated the significance of the Target Range Grant Program during the press conference in Austin.
“I appreciate Texas Parks and Wildlife for working with our local, state, and federal partners to make this investment possible. This grant would not have been awarded without the dedication, cooperation, and commitment from all those involved,” said Hinojosa. “The educational and training opportunities provided for the public and law enforcement will further enhance the public safety of our region.”
The estimated completion date for the target range is February 2021.