Wake County owns the range but it had been operated by the Wake County Sheriff's Office. In December 2019, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker abruptly ended the relationship with Range Safety Management and cited a lack of profitability.
RSM had operated at a loss since 2017 of $710, $15,637, and $16,789 respectively.
"It was the Trump effect," said Fred Stough who manages finances for Range Safety Management. "Gun sales went down. Ammunition sales went down," Stough said.
He said he believes the entire industry took a hit, including the range.
After an abrupt split between the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and Range Safety Management over its public gun range, County Commissioners are discussing having the N.C. Wildlife Commission operate the facility. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/zstOK3YA4e— DeJuan Hoggard (@DeJuanABC11) January 13, 2020
"It was sort of a diamond and for a sheriff to have that kind of a facility in his county is sort of a feather in the cap," said Mark Valletta, who participates in a league that uses the facility. Valletta started a petition that garnered close to 8,500 signatures to keep the range open to the public.
County Commissioners agreed Monday that the range was primarily to be used for law enforcement, but still made available to the public.
"That was sort of an agree-upon second use of it. But it was certainly not the main use of it," Valletta objected. "It's an education and training center."
He cites a placard in the facility's reception area that reads: "Dedicated to the citizens of Wake County."
Moving forward, Commissioners decided to grant management of the range to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission on an interim basis.
They also approved hiring a consultant to outline the best use of the facility in the long-term.
"A partnership is truly a joint activity where we're not being paid for our services. We're providing this to the public," said chief deputy director for NCWRC Kyle Briggs. "Obviously, our shooting ranges that we operate are always free to the public to use. So that would be our goal in this partnership."
County Commissioners will decide and vote at a later date on how to move forward.