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GUN-HO!

Manteca Sportsmen offer variety of shooting options

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GUN-HO!

The pistol range located next to the Manteca Sportsmen’s clubhouse is one of many range facilities available at the club’s property on South Airport Way. It is open seven days a week for target sho...

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The 209


POSTED April 28, 2012 1:45 a.m.

The Manteca Sportsmen’s facility on South Airport Way is a beehive of activity year-round.

The public shooting ranges are open seven days a week from 8 a.m to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays – until half an hour before sunset. The only exceptions are Thanksgiving and Christmas in observance of the holidays, and on days when club events are scheduled and only members are admitted.

It is also a popular venue for various types of training classes, including those that are targeted for women. One case in point is the “ladies’ handgun class,” according to Manteca Sportsmen’s sergeant at arms Joe Kroeze.

“The last time we had the class, we had 79 attend,” commented Kroeze Thursday as he walked around doing his job of overseeing the activities going on in the clubhouse, at the pistol range, and at the rifle range where visitors Eric Rasmussen, Hugo Nieto of Stockton and two other guests were target-shooting. Rasmussen practiced with an AR 15 while Nieto monitored his friend’s accuracy with a telescope on a tripod.

A youth class was also about to start in an hour, so Kroeze was also engaged in helping get the classroom next to the clubhouse ready by setting up the portable chairs inside.

It was just a typical day at the club’s 62-acre property situated on the east side of the San Joaquin River and just south of the historic park formerly known as Durham Ferry on South Airport Way.

Other  popular activities that bring visitors to this bucolic sports setting include trap shooting, cowboy action shooting, black  powder shoot, and youth shoot which is offered every first Friday of the month. Archery enthusiasts can also find a venue to pursue their skills here.

In addition to the monthly women’s pistol and rifle classes as well as “unarmed empty-hand defense” classes (December is the only month without any class offered), there are also programs that are designed specifically for the youth, said Kroeze. These include activities for such groups as the 4-H Club, Sea Cadets, Junior ROTC students, and Scouts. These are programs for youth under 18 years of age.

According to the May 2012 club newsletter, Manteca Sportsmen’s most popular youth program is the Kids Shoot, a “no-cost safety and shooting activity” held the first Friday of every month at 6 p.m. and then again at 8 p.m. Youth participants “must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and will learn gun safety and how to safely shoot .22 rifles on the club indoor range.”



Manteca Sportsmen Inc. was incorporated in 1937


Manteca Sportsmen Inc. as a group predates World War II. The club itself was incorporated in 1937, said Steve Greenberg of Manteca, one of three clubhouse attendants. As far as the club’s facility is concerned, it has not always been owned by the organization, Greenberg said. For a while, it was “in the hands” of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Later on, the Corps “sold” it to the club for $1 an acre. The sale took place just after the Korean conflict, Greenberg said.

The property was then smaller than the 62 acres that the club owns today. And not all of that acreage is utilized for the various programs and activities that are offered today. Only 15 acres are “developed,” while the remaining 47 acres are undeveloped and serve as a “buffer from development.”

Because it is located in low ground, and “between two rivers,” the area is prone to flooding. It is “badly flooded” on an average of once every 10 years, Greenberg explained. When the river rises from its normal level to 27 feet, seepage occurs and the lowest part of the property gets flooded. That’s when they start pumping, he said.

One of the worst flooding events which inundated the club property for weeks, if not months, occurred in the early 1980s. The water was so high it reached the roof of some of the buildings.

That the facility has survived for many decades is a tribute to the dedication and hard work of the members of the club.

“We have volunteer members that come out and do everything that you can imagine,” said Greenberg who is one of the organization’s newest members, having joined the group in barely a decade after retiring from his job at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

They mow the grass, change targets, and do overall clean-up just for starters.

The club was set up to encourage the wide-ranging volunteer opportunities and as a membership fee-reduction incentive. Membership fees for those who volunteer 24 hours a year are rewarded by having their fees reduced significantly after their first year with the club. For a member who pays $330 the first year, for example – membership fees depend on age also – and fulfills the volunteer 24-hour requirement, that amount drops to $50 the following year. Volunteer hours also are reduced according to the member’s age. When one is over 55 years of age, the 24 hours are reduced to 15 hours of volunteer work; over 65, the number becomes 10 hours a year.

Members who do not volunteer pay the regular membership annual fees.

Becoming a member of Manteca Sportsmen Inc. requires a three-month process after sign up. During that time, the prospective members attend at least two club meetings and get informed about safety on the ranges and other requirements. Membership is not limited to Manteca residents either, Greenberg said.

“We have people (members) who have moved out of the area that still receive our newsletter,” he said.

To get there from Manteca, take southbound Airport Way until you reach the old Durham Ferry Park right after you pass by the river. The entrance to the club has a large sign along the road.



— ROSE ALBANO RISSO
209 staff reporter

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