, Derry, New Hampshire

September 20, 2012

Editorial: Complaints about shooting range have little merit

Derry News

---- — Complaints about the sounds of gunfire should not gain much traction in New Hampshire, where firearms are part of our culture.

For more than 20 years, golfers at the Londonderry Country Club have complained about noise from nearby shooting ranges. Perhaps it’s time for the golfers to let the matter drop.

Londonderry Country Club owner Tom Kimball last week said the noise from the nearby shooting range has fired up golfers and residents since 1990, when he first brought the issue in front Town Council. He told the council the sound of shooting is disrupting the golfers’ games.

“I have had golfers complain to me time and time again about this,” Kimball said.

The Londonderry Country Club at 56 Kimball Road abuts the Fish and Game Club in the Musquash Conservation Area, as well as a police target shooting range.

Kimball has made the noise argument many times in the past, but there has been no action by the Town Council.

The country club dates to the 1960s. The police firing range was approved by the Town Council in 2008. The Fish and Game Club has been there since 1972. At that time, councilors believed the operating hours and distance from residential housing would not cause a problem.

During the meeting last week, Kimball suggested some alternatives, including a taxpayer-funded range or transferring officers to an indoor shooting range in nearby Manchester.

Neither of those solutions is workable. A taxpayer-funded indoor range would be prohibitively expensive and just is not something Londonderry can fit in its budget at this time. Sending Londonderry officers off to Manchester is time consuming and not cost-effective.

Frankly, the country club’s protests over the shooting have grown tiresome, at least to the members of the fish-and-game club.

“He has been complaining ubiquitously since the 1990s,” Londonderry Fish and Game Club president Richard Olsen said. “It’s become obnoxious.”

According to Olsen, state law protects firing ranges from noise complaints.

There have been some complaints from residents about the sounds of shooting. But what local community does not register such complaints, particularly as the fall hunting season approaches.

“I was on the soccer field Sunday and there was loud banging,” Town Councilor Joseph Green said. “It was like a cowboy shootout Sunday.”

Surely, Londonderry wants its police officers to have plenty of practice using the firearms they carry as part of their sworn duty to protect the community. Poor training in firearms use leads to tragic accidents.

And surely, the members of the Londonderry Fish and Game Club have as much right to enjoy their sport as the golfers do.

Londonderry town councilors said they will do some “field work” and head over to the shooting range to have a listen. We’re sure they hear the sound of gunfire there, and, particularly to the uninitiated, it will seem loud. Some councilors may be inspired to “do something.” They should resist the urge.