When you’re moving earth, installing drainage and erecting concrete and iron structures 200 feet from 9,900 square miles of open water on the Great Lakes in the middle of winter, there’s a good chance you’re going to suffer some downtime – maybe until springtime.

“The safety berm had significant structural damage, and the original targets and target lifters were inefficient. As a result, the throughput (the number of shooters that can use the range in a given period of time) was significantly less than what would be possible with a modernized target system, and the range operators face increased risks because of the failing berm.” But in the crazy winter of 2012, when southern states got more snowfall, ice and foul conditions than Camp Perry, it’s possible to get more work done than normal – a lot more.

That’s just the case for Tim Smith of Toltest, Inc. of Maumee, Ohio and the workers from its local subcontractor, Kwest Group of Port Clinton. They’re the folks who were hired by the State of Ohio to rebuild the Ohio National Guard’s 100-year-old Rodriguez Range berm and target pits at Camp Perry.

The condition of Rodriguez Range targetry and berm had deteriorated to the point that it needed total replacement. The following statement from Ohio’s 9th District Representative Marcy Kaptur, describes the project:

“The firing ranges at the Ohio Army National Guard’s Camp Perry Joint Training Center have been operational for over 100 years. In the past two years, the National Guard Bureau provided $1.5 million dollars to update the targeting systems and to rebuild the protective berms around the firing ranges, but the Rodriguez Range had the original berm and targeting system, now over 100 years old.”

In November, Toltest Inc.’s Smith said he would be happy if they got enough good weather to finish demolishing the former target pits, clearing the old concrete, pulling back the berm and pouring new footers for the bulkhead and catwalk.

“That way we will be able to bring in our pre-cast bulkhead and catwalk segments when we get breaks in the weather. We could pick away at the project all winter long as weather permits,” he said four months ago.

West not only got his wish for a window of opportunity to accomplish those things, his workers only missed a half-dozen days of work all winter long, due primarily to rain. With spring officially arriving in less than two weeks, the earthwork portion of the project is significantly ahead of schedule.

The project including removing and replacing most of the former structure – including a massive footer, bulkheads, catwalks and the iron target carriers. A vendor who is providing the new target carriers removed the originals and will place new hardware in the pits when they are ready for assembly later this spring, Smith said.

On the low end (west end) of Rodriguez, there were several firing points with newer, reinforced bulkheads that were left untouched, West said. That section was apparently replaced several years ago. It will be cleaned up to match the new construction, Smith explained.

Vertical steel pilings were driven 20 feet into the soil to support the bulkhead slabs and backfilled berm. Like Viale Range, the berm will be topped with large wooden timbers and backfilled. The previous berm was honeycombed with groundhog holes and ruts which compromised the structure and safety of the berm.

Five firing points from the high end (east) were removed and five new points were added to the low end to create better vehicular access from the road between Rodriguez and Petrarca ranges as it enters the pits.

New storm drainage was constructed underneath the pits and directed to the adjacent lagoons that empty into the lake. The roadway behind the pits has also been re-graded and improved for authorized traffic.

Representative Kaptur’s statement said, “In addition to law enforcement customers, Camp Perry has been hosting the National Rifle and Pistol matches for 100 years. Each year, nearly 10,000 shooters come to Camp Perry during a six-week period in July and August to compete.

“The Ohio National Guard is in partnership with the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the National Rifle Association, sponsors of the various competitions that comprise the National Matches. Those matches are a vital recruiting opportunity for the National Guard, and support the communities of the northwest corridor of Ohio with nearly $20 million in economic impact.

“It is for these reasons that the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the National Rifle Association have partnered with the State of Ohio to build additional facilities on Camp Perry, upgrading the infrastructure for the benefit of their members, but ultimately benefiting the Ohio National Guard and our members.

“This project will also strengthen that long-standing partnership and help secure the future of the Camp Perry Joint Training Center. This project will further our Ohio National Guard’s mission and strengthen our nation’s Armed Forces.”

Construction work has ceased with south-facing earthworks complete, thanks to the weather and the efforts of the contractors. With the berm in place, mobilizing Guard troops have begun firing at short-distance targets at the 600-yard line on Rodriguez since the first week in March. Number boards and pit-side work will be completed in the spring, which, fortunately for the shooting community, has come early to Camp Perry.

To view demolition and construction photos of the Rodriguez Range berm project, many of which were provided by Toltest, Inc., log ontohttp://cmp1.zenfolio.com/p170721537.

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