Without a doubt, one of Mississippi’s best-kept secrets is the Turcotte Shooting Range.
Located just off State Highway 43 and the Natchez Trace at the north end of the Ross Barnett Reservoir, this public facility is a first-class example of what a state agency can do for the citizens of the state.
Safety-driven shooting range
“Safety is a top priority here at Turcotte,” shooting range director Steve Moore said. “We get folks coming in with a full spectrum of shooting experiences, or none at all. Our job is to brief them on the proper gun handling safety procedures, then monitor all shooters on all of the nine different range options.”
When shooters come into the check-in office, they must read and sign a safety rules form that contains some 50 gun-handling and shooting rules.
“The bottom line is we focus on four basic shooting safety rules,” Moore said. “One, all guns are always loaded; treat them that way. Two, never let your muzzle cover anything you’re not willing to destroy. Three, keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and, four, always be sure of your target.”
Personnel at Turcotte circulate among the different ranges and shooting activities to watch shooters and provide personal coaching where needed. During busy times — like before deer season — the range may use a number of volunteers to help out as well.
Services open to the public
As a basic shooting range, Turcotte has pistol, rifle and shotgun ranges available.
The pistol range has a covered 60-yard range looking downrange to the huge dirt berm. There are 16 shooting lanes at 3-, 7-, 15-, 25- and 50-yard positions along concrete walkways.
Both paper and steel target stands are available.
The rifle range has 14 shooting positions under a covered roof. Ranges reach to 300 yards. Target stands are available for shooters to staple up their own paper targets, or you can buy them at the range office.
The bench rest tables are first-rate, either made of heavy-duty wood or metal. Shooters can sit while sighting in their rifles.
When I visited the range I saw shooters using everything from a pellet rifle to a muzzleloader to an AK-47 to an AR-15, along with a number of deer and big game hunting rifles.
“This public shooting range is truly one of the best gems in the state,” Barondon’s Dr. Will Sorey, said. “I come out here just to shoot my long-range .243 rifle at the 300-yard target.
“It is great recreation for me. I wish more people knew about this place.”
For shotgunning there is a complete sporting-clays course with 12 shooting stations set along a .6-mile pathway through the woods. Many clays shooters rent the range golf carts for $5 a day to traverse this course.
The range charges $.25 per clay for 50 shots, so it costs only $12.50 for a round.
There are also two Olympic-style skeet ranges on the premises and a 5-stand “Kamikaze Dove Field” to simulate actual dove hunt shooting.
Running this course is a great primer for the gunning seasons coming up for dove, duck and even quail.
Turcotte also offers a 3D archery range with both known and unknown shooting ranges for a real test of bow and arrow skills before the deer season for archery hunting. Get a buddy to come along and test each other’s archery skills.
Off to one side, marked by a small sign, is an independent shotgun-patterning range. This range provides shotgun shooters a good chance to see where their guns are printing shot with various chokes and loads.
It would be perfect to find out where your turkey gun is putting holes on a turkey head target before going to the woods.
Using the Turcotte range requires an annual permit. For residents, that fee is only $40 and $20 for an annual senior range permit. The annual non-resident range permit is $80.
Winter operating hours beginning on Nov. 1, and are Thursday and Friday from noon until 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
The other days are used by range staff to maintain the 200-acre property, fix everything and do maintenance on all of the range equipment like clay throwing machines, and other hardware including tractors and mowers.
Also on site is a hunter safety education classroom facility and a district wildlife office with game agents on staff during the week. The Pearl River Wildlife Management Area is also adjacent to the range property, as is the Ross Barnett Reservoir.
The Turcotte Shooting Range is a fine facility, allowing the public access to multiple shooting range opportunities to hone skills in pistol, rifle, shotgun and archery shooting. We’re very fortunate in the Metro area to have this facility nearby. Drive out one weekend and check it out.
Other details can be found on the state wildlife web site at www.mdwfp.com or call the range at 601-859-5164 Wednesday through Friday 8 a.m. until noon.