Ancient Oak Gun Club open for business

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MANATEE COUNTY - A new gun range at the center of some controversy in Manatee County is now open.

"The gun is pointed down range at a safe direction, you say 'pull', and the bird is launched and then you break it," said Ed Fallon the Assistant Manager at Ancient Oak Gun Club, a clay shooting site now up and running in Manatee County.

He describes some of the procedures used when skeet shooting.  "In shotgunning, you're shooting a shot shell with multiple BB's in there; that could be 400 or 500 pellets.  And the rate of speed they're traveling is about 12ft per second, and you're shooting at a target," said Fallon.

Those targets are clay disks set up at various stations on the property. But, while everything seems calm now, the new gun club wasn't without controversy.  That's because it's located about a mile away from a church and the Center Montessori School's outdoor land lab -- a proximity that raised many eye brows.

"A lot of stuff has been happening in the world with guns lately, so that's kinda nerve racking that its close by," said Emma Wilbur a student at the Center Montessori School.

The school's land lab is an empty lot where students are taught some of their science classes.  Over the years the children have planted hundreds of trees on the open property.  "I think the first couple times we go out there, knowing that the gun club is there I think we'll all be a little nervous and a little scared," said Wilbur.

And there were other worries.  "Our original concern was for the emotional security for our students.  The unfortunate reality is that hearing gun shots these day and ages holds a very different connotation than it did many years ago," said Mara Fulk, the school's principal.

But Ancient Oak officials say there is no need to be afraid.  "People just don't understand that there different venues and shot gunning is a different venue.  Its a firearm, and it becomes a weapon when someone uses it to do a elicit act,"  said Fallon.

In addition, officials say they have set up various safety measures to protect everyone.  All the shooting stations are also located on the opposite end of the property, pointing away from the school.

"What I would suggest people to do is come one out, we will take you for a tour of the facility, we'll show you first hand what it sounds like, and if you want to try it out again you're welcome to do so.  We'll help you in anyway possible," said Fallon.

Ancient Oak met all of the requirements needed to open.  And, their officials say they will continue to enforce all the necessary safety measures.