North Carolina's largest public shooting range, one of the largest in the Southeast, will open April 19 near Shelby with rifle, pistol, shotgun and 3-D archery ranges.

The Foothills Public Shooting Complex of Cleveland County, costing more than $3.5 million, will have a 250-yard rifle range, five 50-yard pistol ranges, two skeet/trap courses for shotguns and a 3-D archery range for bows and arrows.

On opening day, beginning at noon, the complex will let the public try out different types of firearms at no cost. The complex will be open April 20 and afterward for year-round practice, training and recreational shooting. Fees will be $10 a day for adults, $5 for children under 17 and $5 a day for seniors, veterans, disabled, wildlife and law enforcement officers.

Sam Lockridge, administrator of the 82-acre campus, said as many as 60 people at a time will be able to shoot from the multiple stands, including 3-D archery. The complex will also have a training facility for safety classes and will be capable of hosting local or national tournaments.

Most of the cost was covered by a $1.9-million grant from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission from interest earned by the Commission's Wildlife Endowment Fund. In addition, the National Rifle Association donated $25,000, according to Erik Kristofferson, deputy director of operations for the Commission.

Lockridge said the rest of the cost was picked up by private donations and in-kind services from the county, and that no local or state taxes went to pay for the complex.

He said the range will be staffed by two to three clerical workers and four to five safety officers and will be open throughout the year. Operating times from March through October will be 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from 1:30-7:30 p.m. on Sundays. From November through February, the hours will be 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The range is located off NC 150 between Shelby and Waco.

The Cleveland County complex will become the state's newest public-shooting range; a second range under construction, the Holly Shelter Game Land range in Pender County, is expected to open May 1. 

In 2014 the Commission built or renovated three outdoor ranges: the R. Wayne Bailey/Caswell Game Land Shooting Range near Yanceyville, Flintlock Valley in the Uwharrie National Forest near Troy and John F. Lentz Hunter Education Complex at Ellerbe in the Sandhills.