Local sportsmen club continues to make youth, outdoors priority
July 17. 2013 1:37PM
A group of outdoorsmen, riflemen and hunters came together one night in Dell Rapids 60 years ago and decided they would see to it that the heritage of wildlife, forest, soil and waters in their neck of the woods would be defended from an increasingly changing world.
Today, the Dell Rapids Sportsmen Club is continuing promote the outdoors, but rather than doing it from inside of Weelborg’s Garage – now Virg’s Service owned by Joe Weinacht – the club has makes its home on the banks of the Big Sioux River just south of town.
During the club’s 60 years on the picturesque riverfront property, archery sight-in and 3-D ranges, a rifle range with a canopy, a pistol range and a trap course, not to mention an air-conditioned club house, have all been added to the grounds, making the Dell Rapids Sportsmen’s Club one of the premier places to shoot in the region, said Bill Weber, club secretary and treasurer.
“For $50 a year, you get a lot of stuff out here,” he said. “We’ve had people that come from out of state that bought memberships here and just can’t believe it.”
An independent spirit not found at most clubs still graces Dell Rapids, Weber said. Many clubs require supervised shooting for a lot higher of a price. But in Dell Rapids, members can come and go as they please and are allowed to use the range whether or not club directors are present.
“It’s always best to bring a buddy but I’ve shot out here by myself,” he said. “I’ve even spent the night out here, and I’ll tell you what – it’s darker than dark out here at night.”
Every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., when weather cooperates, the club opens it’s doors to the public for trap shooting. They provide the birds for a cost, and also have shells available.
Volunteer work by members helps keep the place up, along with various grants from the state and the National Rifle Association. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks also helps the club put on youth shoots and safety programs at least twice each year. On Saturday, June 22, about 40 kids were at the club trying their hands at .22 shooting, muzzleloaders, fishing, archery, trapping and game cleaning.
To accommodate growing youth classes, the club made a 16 by 20 foot addition to its clubhouse.
“A big goal of ours is educating the youth,” Weber said. “If you don’t train your youth, you’re not going to have anybody to take over.”
Membership at the club, Weber said, typically hovers around 160 to 175 members. Any person eligible to own and operate firearms can join the club by buying a $50 family membership. Memberships may be purchased at ACE Hardware or T and C’s Fuel Station, both located in Dell Rapids.