COVINGTON -- If you want to learn to shoot or if you're an experienced shooter and want to hone your skills, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources reminds east metro citizens that there are opportunities for both at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield.
"We have a new shotgun range that opened up last year and a traditional shooting range for other firearms. It's a pretty neat experience, and it's a really, really nice-looking course," said Melissa Cummings, outreach/communications specialist for the DNR.
"The shooting sports are safe, high-quality activities for families to enjoy. The Wildlife Resources Division's program helps cultivate a life-long love of shooting and fosters a sense of conservation for generations to come," said DNR Commissioner Mark Williams when the new range opened last year.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, shooting sports generate more than $478 million in economic impact and more than 1,700 jobs in Georgia.
Both the shotgun range and the firearms range, which is staffed with range safety officers to assist those new to the sport, are located on Elliott Trail. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday.
Use of the shooting ranges requires the possession of a Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass, which should be purchased prior to visiting CEWC. Those who are exempt include youngsters 15 and under, senior citizens 65 or older or those who possess a WMA license, honorary license, sportsman license, lifetime license or a 3-day hunting and fishing license. For more information, call 1-800-366-2661 or go to www.charlieelliott.org.
Those who complete the Hunter Education course receive a three-month range pass, which allows free access to DNR shooting ranges.
"With fewer hunting opportunities, the summer is the perfect time for hunters and gun enthusiasts of all experience levels to enjoy the outdoors and get some target practice in at one of the DNR's shooting ranges," said DNR Hunter Development Program manager Walter Lane.
Lane is also encouraging sportsmen to stay "checked in" on the location-based social media network Foursquare. Users can earn specials and deals by checking into locations, having multiple check-ins at a location or checking in with friends at the same locations. They can also receive personalized recommendations based on check-in habits, post photos they've taken at their favorite spots and post tips and reviews for locations they visit.
"Foursquare provides range visitors with a mobile platform to connect with DNR and each other, while also taking advantage of some specials at select ranges," Lane said.
Visitors at the shotgun range at CEWC will receive a round of clays for use at the shotgun range on their fifth check-in. To redeem your special at the CEWC range, check in at the information kiosk and unlock the special. Leave the app open and then take your device to the Visitor's Center to receive your round of clays.
Follow "GA Public Shooting Ranges" on Foursquare and Twitter (@GAPublicRanges) to stay updated on specials and events at DNR Ranges.