Cameo hits bull's-eye

Glen Wong shoots during the pistol shooting competition Saturday at the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex.The complex​ is a top destination for people from all over the world to participate in organized shooting competitions.

Widespread interest is growing in the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex, which last weekend hosted 200 shooters from across the country as a part of the facility's first United States Practical Shooting Association sanctioned competition.

The event demands a combination of speed and accuracy, USPSA Match Director Paul DiMarchi said. It also requires significant facility resources as competitors navigate a course of walls to fire on several targets set up down range.

"There are 12 stations of fire," DiMarchi said. "There are around 350 rounds fired by each person... We're shooting for accuracy points, but our accuracy is divided by our time to get our true score."

Robert Krogh of Fruita was one of the shooters who attended the weekend event and praised the complex for its thoughtfulness when designing the range. He said few compromises were made when designing the facility.

"I like the fact that as a competitor you have all the things you need and all the things that help make your performance more enjoyable and more successful," Krogh said.

DiMarchi said the venue in Cameo itself is a unique facility in the world of competitive shooting and an attractive option for hosting large competitions in the future.

"This is the shooting range of the future," DiMarchi said. "It's unlike anything. I've been shooting in this sport for over 20 years — all over the country — going to big matches regularly and this range is above and beyond any other range in terms of its size, its ability to host big groups, its conveniences."

The complex, located off Interstate 70, is isolated and surrounded by hills and cliffs making for a safe location to hold a competition, DiMarchi said. Combined with its size and the amenities installed at the Complex like Wi-Fi and bathrooms, DiMarchi said he foresaw USPSA holding more matches there in the future.

For complex Manager Walt Proulx the USPSA event is only the latest of what has been a busy and exciting first summer in Cameo. "This is our third major sanctioned competition," Proulx said. "We've hosted multiple law enforcement trainings. We've hosted two special forces operations group trainings. I'm not at liberty to say who or who the trainers were, but small groups doing very specialized stuff."

In addition to the special events, Proulx said the range has done steady business with local shooters visiting the range and hosts 4H archery practices. There are already events planned into next year, Proulx said, including a women's shooting event next spring that plans to bring in 400 women for a weeklong event.

"One of our big drivers, in addition to recruitment and retention of hunting and fishing and outdoor recreationalists, our secondary purpose is to be somewhat of an economic driver for the valley, bringing in more tourism dollars and this event is just one example," Proulx said.

The Complex is still in the process of adding new features, Proulx said, which he expects will increase the facilities usage as each comes online. Proulx points to two new 3D archery loops as examples of new features to bring in users.

"We opened up our 3D archery loops, of which we have two, and so far we've hosted three different 3D archery events," Proulx said. "Now that we're better situated to accommodate logistics, the frequency and size of those will just increase."

The last major installation, which Proulx said he hopes will be completed this summer, are sporting clays courses. Sporting clays, Proulx said present shooters with a random, hunting-like experience in the way they fire the clay pigeons. There will be executive sporting clays, along with a standard sporting clays course, Proulx said. The standard course will follow a trail more than a mile long.

Once the clays courses are completed that will cap off the portion of the physical construction currently funded for the complex; however, Proulx said the next stage in the development of the complex — a large visitor center — is being planned.

"It's going to be a large building," Proulx said. "It will have indoor ranges. It will have four classrooms. It will be part natural history museum, part indoor shooting range, part classroom. We're planning to have a café there. It will be administrative offices."

While design work for the visitor center is funded, Proulx said the funding for the building itself would still need to be approved by the state. One of his major focuses going forward, Proulx said, is finding outside funding from companies and individuals to support projects at the complex.

In order to complete everything he envisions for the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex, Proulx said, it would take in excess of 10 years; however, the facilities currently open to the public are making a big splash, said Krogh.

"I've been competing heavily in this event for the last six or seven years and I've become good friends with high level (shooters)," Krogh said. "People have been reaching out through email or Facebook or phone calls. Everyone was blown away (with the Cameo facility)."

The Cameo Shooting and Education Complex is currently open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but will expand to seven days a week by the end of July, Proulx said.

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