Following a brief "ribbon shooting" ceremony on April 7, the newly renovated Twin Ponds Shooting Range at the Francis Marion National Forest in Charleston County is now open to the public.
The new state-of-the art range includes 18 pistol bays on a 25-yard range, and 16 rifle bays on a 100 yard range with earthen safety berms on all sides. The new range is a joint project involving the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the U.S. Forest Service, the National Rifle Association and Charleston County Government. It will be staffed full-time during operating hours by an SCDNR employee.
The long-awaited project faced some construction delays and setbacks. It was set to open in October of 2015, when heavy rains from Hurricane Matthew caused extensive damage to the freshly built safety berms. Local hunters and shooters have eagerly awaited the opening of the facility, which was built using funds from the federal Pittman Robertson Act/Wildlife Restoration Fund earmarked for the purpose of providing more public shooting opportunities. Funding from the state, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Rifle Association were used to match the Wildlife Restoration Act funding, which is administered by the SCDNR.
The project was scheduled to open in October of 2016, but was dealt a serious setback when heavy rains from Hurricane Matthew washed out newly constructed safety berms on the property, according to SCDNR Captain Billy Downer, who leads SCDNR Hunter Education programs.
"We had to overcome a lot of challenges during the construction of this facility, but now we have a safe place for the public to come and enjoy recreational shooting," said Downer, "and what a spot this is going to be. Now we have a state-of-the art facility with an NRA design that has been proven across the United States."
"A lot of effort has been put into this project," said Rick Lint, with the U. S. Forest Service. Lint serves as Forest Supervisor for the Francis Marion and Sumter National forests. "It's been a great partnership with DNR, the National Rifle Association and the [Charleston] county folks."
Providing a safe and accessible place for people in the region to be able to come and shoot was a priority for the SCDNR, according to SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor.
"This is a great day, and it took a lot of folks working together to get this done," said Taylor. "We know this is going to be a busy place here very shortly."
Following the ceremony, local resident Michael Beck was the first person to utilize the rifle range after the ceremony. Beck said the new facility represents a great improvement over the old range and will really benefit hunters and other folks interested in sharpening their shooting skills in the region.
The regularly-scheduled hours for the new Twin Ponds range will be Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
From Charleston, take U.S. Highway 17 north for about 25 miles to Steed Creek Road (SC Route 133-S). Turn left and drive two miles to Willow Hall Road (FS Road 202). Turn right and go one mile the entrance is on the left.