Built on land donated by the Huntingdon Industrial Board, the 85.69-acre facility is undeniably impressive. But it’s the thoughtful details of its design, coupled with the growing popularity of shooting sports that make it one of the fastest-growing tourism attractions in the region.
The park, according to County Mayor Kenny McBride, was designed to make the sport shooting experience as accessible and engaging as possible. Paved ranges and ramps, as well as specially widened sidewalks, were designed with disabled shooters in mind, while pavilions and other amenities encourage families to shoot and relax together for hours at a time.
“The sky is the limit,” McBride said. “We’ve seen unbelievable growth in the popularity of the park, and it’s had such a great impact on the surrounding communities.”
The state of Tennessee saw the potential for the facility to become a major draw for outdoor enthusiasts, based on park plans and how it would be marketed.
“We [state of Tennessee] must identify local assets and capitalize on them for economic growth. The shooting park is a perfect example,” said Amy New, Assistant Commissioner, Community and Rural Development, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “This was an existing asset that with some additional funding was poised to have a significant economic impact and drawing visitors from all across the country. We’re so happy to see the success Carroll County is having.”
Recently, the park played host to “Shooting Hunger” a nonprofit event sponsored by the Tennessee Farm Bureau and benefiting the Mid-South Foodbank. The event, which paid for more than 200,000 meals, was a perfect example of the Park’s appeal, according to Brian Wright, director of Membership for the Tennessee Farm Bureau.
“The course and the facility are fantastic,” Wright said. “They’re super-conducive to handling a lot of people, and the location makes for an easy drive from middle or west Tennessee, as well as the surrounding states.”
In all, on a weekend that featured several other large events in Tennessee including Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival and the CMA (Country Music Association) Music Festival, more than 600 attendees traversed the massive range and partook in the day’s events.
Wright made it clear that the “Shooting Hunger” would be back next year and the following two years.
Another special guest of the event included, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton, who called the park a “tremendous venue”, and said he was “overjoyed to see such a wonderful investment in a rural county.”
Chuck Sisson, treasurer of the Carroll County Shooting Sports Park, says Shooting Hunger is not alone in its satisfaction. In fact, the park’s events schedule has become so crowded that officials have had to enact policies to make sure locals and the accomplished area scholastic teams have time to practice.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Sisson said. “ We’re having large shoots and events almost every weekend. It’s good for the park, and it’s good for all of the surrounding businesses. More people are coming to Carroll County than ever before.”
Lance Rider, an outreach coordinator with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, says he is confident the growing enthusiasm around shooting sports will continue to fuel the popularity of the park, citing the effects of several new upgrades and attractions.
“People are coming in from all over,” Rider said, “especially now that we have the pistol range and the 300-yard rifle range. Shotgun clays are still the biggest draw, but the new pieces are starting to catch up.”
The pistol range, which Rider calls “one-of-a-kind,” sits toward the back of the property and is built in the style of an old Western town, begging shooters to test their quick draws. In May, the range housed a state pistol match, drawing competitors from six states, some from as far as Wisconsin and Missouri.
You can often hear representatives of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce remark that the sports shooting complex and the Thousand Acre Recreation Lake have made Carroll County a destination for families and outdoors enthusiasts. Coupled with Bethel Renaissance and the Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, activity abounds throughout the county.
“We’re proud that the park has brought so many people to Carroll County,” McBride said. “But we’re even more proud that, when they leave, they want to come back.”
Carroll County Shooting Sports Park, located in Huntingdon, Tenn., is a registered nonprofit dedicated to providing a structured, safe environment for training in a number of outdoor sports. The 85.69-acre property includes a number of varied shotgun clay ranges, a 300-foot rifle range, pistol ranges, a visitors’ center and much more.
The land, donated by the Huntingdon Industrial Board, was renovated through a series of grants from TWRA and the Tennessee departments of Tourist Development and Economic and Community Development, as well as individual and community donations. It has been outfitted to host disabled shooters, as well as scholastic events and large-scale charity events.