The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks opened its latest shooting range; the 300-acre McIvor Shooting Facility at the Charles Ray Nix Wildlife Management Area near Sardis brings a state-of-the-art facility to sportsmen in a highly populated region of north Mississippi.
Although it is part of the WMA, the range will be isolated from hunting areas, with access to shooting locations controlled by time cards and counters, similar to MDWFP’s first two ranges: the Turcotte Shooting Facility near Jackson and the McHenry Shooting Facility near Wiggins.
Within a short drive from several population centers — Sardis, Grenada, Oxford, Senatobia, Southaven and Olive Branch — the McIvor range is a multi-discipline shooting sports facility. MDWFP partnered with the Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, and Olin Chemical, the parent company of Winchester Ammunition. Funding for the facility included a $1.425 million grant from Olin, and the MDWFP worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to garner additional grant funding.
Olin/Winchester has an ammunition plant on the outskirts of Oxford in rural Lafayette County.
MDWFP said the McIvor range is part of the agency’s R3 Initiative: Recruiting, Retaining and Reactivating sportsmen into hunting and fishing activities. R3 also includes a youth-oriented hunter education program.
“One of the central themes of R3 is partnerships,” said Dr. Sam Polles, the executive director of MDWFP. “Whether it is MDWFP collaborating with other conservation organizations throughout the state or with hunters and anglers themselves, we must work together to make sure we are creating and empowering more hunters and anglers each year. Building the hunting and fishing community in Mississippi is essential.
“Without a strong base of consistent participation in hunting, angling, target shooting and other outdoor recreation activities, the valuable funding each year for wildlife conservation and habitat restoration will decline. This will leave our state with fewer resources and even fewer jobs.”
Capt. Scottie Jones of the MDWFP Law Enforcement division, the McIvor project manager, said the range provides a safe, comfortable environment.
“Our key goal is to provide facilities where people go out and enjoy shooting sports,” Jones said. “Some of the big programs we have in shooting sports are the Mississippi Scholastic Shooting Program (MSSP), where schools can compete in the shotgun sports — sporting clays, skeet, trap, and five stand.
“We also have archery programs within the agency. We’re hoping that youth will one day want to take the next step and go hunting and fishing.”
The facility also will feature a 3D archery range that simulates real-world hunting situations. Visitors can engage animal targets such as deer on a trail through a forested area. Facility managers can move the targets and make adjustments to the trail on the fly, which keeps the experience fresh for visitors.
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