PARIS – The Norway-Paris Fish and Game Club is closing its shooting range to the public after several recent incidents of vandalism.

Sam Giles, the range’s safety officer and a member of the club’s board of directors, said the range has been open to the public for decades, but that the problems only began recently.

“People were going up there and just abusing the whole range,” he said.

All the damage was done using firearms, and included trees that were toppled, a table that had its legs blown off, and signs and a portable toilet that were shot up. Giles said total damages amounted to about $2,000 over the past few years.

“Finally, we had to pull the plug,” Giles said.

Under the new guidelines, the range is only open to members of the nonprofit club or their guests. A 300-foot fence with a rolling gate were installed at the range last month. The gate has a lock whose combination is only given to club members. The club intends to prosecute anyone found using the range without a membership card or under the supervision of a club member.

Giles said the fence cost about $3,500, and he hopes that it will help prevent further damage to the range.

“I think it’s going to pay for itself in the long run,” he said.

Giles said the gate was damaged recently, apparently by a vehicle backing into it, and required repair. He did not know whether the damage was done maliciously.

While the chain-link barrier does not surround the 17-acre range, it does block the parking area to non-club members.

Giles said the club plans to begin opening the range to the public on Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings once members are assigned to supervise the site. He says the new rules will not affect public meetings or events at the range.

“We hated to do it,” Giles said of the closing. “We want people to come up and enjoy the range, and we want them to have a safe place to shoot.”

He said he believed that until the recent closing, the club’s shooting range was one of the few in the state that was open to the public, and he hopes the club can eventually restore that distinction.

The shooting range, which operates year-round, features a trap-shooting area and a sheltered range that offers targets at distances from 50 to 200 yards. The club is in the process of installing a new building at the range, and hopes to add a new trap-shooting area.

The Norway-Paris Fish and Game Club holds a public meeting on the third Thursday of each month at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Norway. The board of directors meets on the first Thursday.

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