Benton Co. Gun Range Can Stay in Business

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Nighthawk Custom Training Academy will be allowed to operate with certain stipulations set by a panel during a four hour public hearing at the Benton County Courthouse.

A panel voted in favor of the firearms training academy near Centerton. The decision overturns the Quorum Court's initial decision to deny the owner a business permit.

The stipulations are that the academy can only operate from 8a.m. to 5p.m., come up with a plan to cut down the noise and work on lead contamination.

There was an hour for public comments and some neighbors to the gun range weren’t happy with the outcome.

"The folks that have been there for years are stuck with the gunfire and safety concerns. I don't agree with the decision," Chuck Mayo, who lives nearby, said.

Others who participate in the trainings said safety is a priority for the shooting range.

"I'm very pleased with the facility. Both in the physical plan of it and the amount of distance it has from any potential accident," Wayne Welsher said.

Before the public hearing, the gun range owners invited Benton County representatives for a tour. They answered questions and demonstrated safety strategies.

Complaints the county has received are noise and stray bullets.

"Dangerous, it looks like to me in one aspect. It's irritating as the devil… if you are sitting down having a barbecue, it sounds like Fourth of July is going on," Lee Noah said.

Supporters of the gun range said neighbors don't live that close.

"It's very surprising that there would be a noise issue because of where it's located. It's very far from any proximate neighborhood or facility with a large population," Welsher said.

During the hearing it was said that some law enforcement agencies such as the Bentonville and Springdale SWAT have trained at the Centerton academy.

The shooting range has 90 days to comply, and work with the planning board on the stipulations.

The shooting range's attorney said the owner wasn't available for comment.

The panel, composed of three justices of the peace, was chosen by Benton County Judge Bob Clinard, who oversaw the hearing.

Even though the shooting range is in Centerton, it's just outside the city limits and that's why it falls under the county's jurisdiction.