- I'm not anti-gun, although I do approve of some measure of gun control.
- I own a hand gun, although I'm not licensed to carry. The pistol sits on a shelf in a case, with rounds hidden away in a nearby closet.
- I've hunted and killed deer, squirrel, and dove, and have eaten what I've killed, but I don't really consider myself a sportsman.
- I've shot skeet, and have gone to ranges to shoot pistols for fun and practice.
- My father was a police officer, and I have a healthy respect for guns, as well as a solid amount of hands-on safety training.
- I've had to hunker down with friends behind vehicles when some jokers about a mile away unintentionally shot some rifle rounds over our heads while shooting their rifles.
Why am I giving you this history? Because...
I've ridden the Mission Trails many times, and have noticed signs for the Mission Skeet and Trap Club. There's an earthen barrier, probably about 12' tall, and signs warning people to "keep out". The barrier is about 10 yards from the Mission Trails Hike and Bike Trail. While riding the trails with the kids last Monday, I heard gunfire. As always, when I hear gunfire and can't verify the source, direction, or intention, it makes me nervous.
This wasn't anyone shooting skeet or trap, but was pistol range fire. The shots went off rapidly, and it sounded like some sort of competition. I probably heard 75-100 rounds being fired within a 5 to 10 minute span. As I approached the section of trail nearest the range, I trusted that the barrier was sufficient, and simply rode past with the kids in tow as quickly as possible.
Today, I loaded the GPS data for another Mission Trails ride into Google Earth. In the image below, you can see the red route passing directly south of the Skeet and Trap Club grounds. The actual skeet and trap range is to the north, and appear as the 3 half-moon areas past the parking lot. I'm not totally sure, but it looks like a firing range is just south of the parking lot, and aims directly towards the path, with the earthen barrier protecting anyone on the path.
I neither observed anything unsafe happening, nor can I infer from the satellite images that there is anything unsafe about the layout or safety of the range. On the other hand, take a look at the zoomed out satellite image of the area around the Mission Skeet & Trap Club (marked with a yellow pin). There's just a little bit of rural, sparsely populated land nearby. It seems like it would make sense to not have a firing range 10 yards from a hike and bike trail if there are many, many alternate locations within the immediate vicinity.
I'll keep riding the Mission Trails, both with and without the kids. The gunfire will keep making me nervous. And if there's ever an organized effort to expand the trail system or find an alternate location for the club, I'll definitely jump in and help.