The much anticipated reconstruction and upgrades to the Twin Ponds Rifle Range in the Francis Marion National Forest is well underway and completion of the project is expected by mid-summer, according to Pam Baltimore, public affairs officer for the U.S. Forest Service. Twin Ponds is located off U.S. Highway 17, near McClellanville.
The collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources was announced in March 2015, but construction did not begin until Feb. 29, 2016.
The plans for the popular facility included a new shooting shed for rifles, separate shooting areas for pistols and archery, a higher rear berm and new side berms for improved safety, increased parking and a full-time range officer. However, the archery component will not be added during the current construction phase. There will be no fee to utilize the range.
Not everyone has been happy with the closure, although Boggy Head rifle range has remained open. Baltimore said vandalism has taken place at the construction site and a gate was destroyed. She also said some angry users who were turned away fired their guns while exiting the area. People also have used the site to dump large appliances which have been used for target practice.
The Department of Natural Resources is using Pittman-Robertson fund that come from the sale of firearms and ammunition to help fund improvements. Anticipated operation times for the facility are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and the presence of a fulltime range officer is expected to help cut down problems.
The new range will feature a 100-yard rifle range with a new shed that doubles the number of available shooting positions. The range also will feature a separate 25-yard pistol range. Both new sheds will have concrete floors and will be ADA accessible.
Twin Ponds was developed decades ago for hunters to prepare for hunting season and has always been a DNR-Forest Service collaboration. DNR approached the Forest Service a couple of years ago with the idea of developing Twin Ponds into an NRA-sanctioned range.