Cape Coral and Southwest Florida Feature Stories
Written by Eric Taubert Thursday, 04 March 2010 00:00
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"
-- The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Looking for an outpost in Southwest Florida where you can exercise your Second Amendment rights without breaking the bank? Perhaps you should acquaint yourself with the Cecil M. Webb Public Shooting Range in Punta Gorda.
Just a short ride from Cape Coral, The Cecil M. Webb shooting range is located on Tuckers Grade Road in the Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County. The facilities include an outdoor pistol range (15 to 50 yards), an outdoor rifle range (50 to 200 yards), rifle silhouette, pistol silhouette, muzzle-loading and skeet amenities.
A few years back, the Cecil M. Webb shooting range began to get a bad reputation.
"This place used to be like the Wild West of shooting ranges," said recreational shooter Jim Stratford during a "cold range" at Cecil M. Webb. "If you had the guts to visit, you could plan on being muzzle swept at least a dozen times. There were no range officers. There were no usable target stands. This place was scary. A lot of people stopped coming here out of fear for their own safety."
But this isn't the old Cecil M. Webb shooting range. Within the past two years, the entire range has been renovated, including the skeet area. All the ranges have functional target stands. There are multiple range officers present at all times the range is open. The staff is comprised of retired or part time Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission officers. They have installed chicken wire barriers between the shooting stations to stop the flight of empty shells. They have bathroom facilities. They even have someone walking around and sweeping up the empty cartridge casings.
The setting at the Cecil M. Webb shooting range is isolated, but not far from the major roads. It's a well maintained, but rustic, shooting range. It's a gravel road and grassy oasis among the wildlife and pine trees. It's a place of contrast, the serenity of nature repeatedly punctuated by the click and boom of triggers and gunpowder.
Bullet riddled targets grace the shooting area and spent casings litter the ground in front of the shooting stations.
War veterans and stern-faced marksmen share the shooting range with Nascar rednecks and amateurs practicing shooting of the home protection variety. Male and female. Black and white. It's a destination full of colorful personalities engaging in an American tradition...shooting loaded guns for practice, precision, release, and just because they can.
The cost to use the Cecil M. Webb public shooting range is minimal. While many local shooting ranges charge exorbitant entrance fees and only let you shoot ammunition bought on-site, Cecil Webb only charges $3 per person or $6 per car load. The payment process is almost an honor system. You pick up an envelope at the entrance, tear off the stub for your dashboard, drop the money and envelope into a hole in a yellow pole and proceed to the shooting range. Scofflaws Beware: The staff at the shooting range engages in intermittent checks to enforce payment.
Gun enthusiast, Tim Travis, was present at the Cecil Webb shooting range with a few guns and a few friends. He warmed up shooting some .38 Special rounds from his Smith & Wesson model 686 Plus. Shortly thereafter, Travis switched to a much louder .357 Magnum ammunition.
"You want to bring your own hearing protection. Also bring some paper targets and a staple gun to attach them to the stands," Travis replied when asked about visiting the Cecil Webb shooting range. "The main thing is to respect the power of the gun and always put safety first. The best time to visit this shooting range is during the weekdays. The weekends can get crowded, especially once the weather cools down."
When asked if there was anything else he wanted to share, Travis replied, "I'm not going to tell anyone else how to vote, but the election is coming up. All gun owners should look at their candidate's gun policies closely before they place their vote. Gun rights are something Americans need to hold on to."
--writing and photography by Eric Taubert
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