Nine counties now vying for state shooting complex

By Kayne Pyatt, Herald Reporter
Posted 3/20/24

On Friday, March 15, the oversight task force appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon voted to allow Sheridan into the competition to be the site for the $10 million Wyoming shooting sports complex. Sheridan …

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Nine counties now vying for state shooting complex


On Friday, March 15, the oversight task force appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon voted to allow Sheridan into the competition to be the site for the $10 million Wyoming shooting sports complex. Sheridan had turned in their letter of intent almost a week late but, after a brief discussion, the task force voted approval which raised the number of counties seeking to become the designated site from eight to nine.

The counties that have now turned in their letters of intent and have been approved to proceed through the process are: Uinta, Campbell, Natrona, Park, Cheyenne, Fremont, Hot Springs, Guernsey and Sheridan. The Wyoming Legislature authorized $10 million to start the building of the complex; however, the cost will potentially be higher and private funding may have to cover anything above the $10 million.

The general purpose of the task force meeting on March 15 was to determine the strong points and criteria they will be looking for when they receive the nine proposals.

Task force chair Sen. Larry Hicks asked the group to consider the “hold factor.”

“When reviewing the proposals, we need to look for what about the site will attract and hold people at that location for several days or more.” Hicks said. “Also, we need to decide what specifics we need to ask for in the RFP (request for proposal).”

Suggestions and comments from those attending the meeting included that applicants should have developed a timeline for land acquisition and construction; whether their proposals answer specific questions including: topography, ease of acquisition of the land needed; enough land for future expansion; is infrastructure readily available; what amenities are available and how close to the site; can the area handle a large influx of people; what educational opportunities will be available and what accommodations are available (hotels, restaurants, camp sites, etc.).

The main determination that all agreed on was that the RFP should have clear criteria so the counties will know what they will be judged on.

If there were deficiencies in their letter of intent, Hicks suggested, they should be asked how they can remedy or eliminate those in the proposal.

Josh Coursey with Muley Fanatics Foundation said he thought the applicants need to include:  data on the weather at the site and how the applicant would accommodate for wind, snow, and rain, with wind being the most critical for long-range shooting.

Other suggestions to include in the RFP would be for the applicant to list any sponsors who have committed to the complex, any available emergency response services and the proximity to city limits, subdivisions, and other businesses and how they will buffer it if there is a problem.

Task force co-chair Rep. Art Washut said, “We need to be clear on what we mean by a buffer in the RFP, and we need to be clear on the reasons why we would eliminate anyone.”

After several hours of discussion and questions regarding the RFP, Hicks asked for a commitment from everyone on the task force to take the sample RFP they were given and put their comments on it as to what they each see is needed, make corrections and suggestions based on their professional sector/expertise.

“I’ll work on the language concerning land acquisition,” Hicks said. “I’d like Nish Goicolea with Game and Fish to work on the habitat and wildlife issues and educational opportunities. We need the final draft of the RFP by the end of the month; April 8 is the date for sending it out to the applicants.”

The timeframe for the oversight process was determined and is as follows:

• April 8 – the RFP will be available;

• June 3 at 5 p.m. – the proposals will be due to LSO (Legislative Service Office);

• June 10 – the LSO will do the initial ranking by committee;

• June 12-14 – a session to review and screen applicants;

• The week of June 24-28 – the task force will hear oral presentations by applicants;

• July 3 at 5 p.m. – supplemental information requested by the task force is due to the LSO;

• July 8-19 – site visits scheduled;

• Aug. 12-16 – task force meets to make final selection;

• Aug. 19-23 – LSO will draft a recommendation letter to Governor Gordon, JAC (Joint Appropriations Committee), and Joint (from both House & Senate) TRW (Travel, Recreation and Wildlife), requesting legislation designating the site and appropriating the $10 million;

• August 2024 to Jan. 2025 – the task force will meet with selected site stakeholders;

• Jan. 2025 – legislation will be introduced, to be effective immediately.

Hicks said they may have to move the April 8 date back a bit but he is reluctant to do that; so he asked everyone to be quick with returning the suggestions for the RFP.

The 12 members of the Task Force are: Chair Hicks; Co-chair Washut; Sen. John Kolb; Rep. Pepper Ottman; Wyoming Business Council (WBC) Services Director Brandon Marshal; WBC Strategic Partnership Director Ron Gullberg; Gunwerks Founder and CEO Aaron Davidson; Wyoming Office of Tourism Global Partnership Director James Scoon; Wyoming State Parks Deputy Director Dave Glenn; Wyoming Game and Fish Departmetn Chief of Services Eric Wiltanger; Muley Fanatics President and CEO Josh Coursey; Maven Optics Co-owner Cade Maestas.