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Sportsmen group keeps Pipestem shooting range open, functioning

The remnants of a big screen television were part of the debris that was collected by members of the Jamestown chapter of the United Sportsmen of North Dakota during a cleanup at the Pipestem Rifle Range about three weeks ago Photo courtesy / Jamestown chapter of the United Sportsmen of North Dakota1 / 2
Members of the Jamestown chapter of the United Sportsmen of North Dakota take a break after a work bee at the Pipestem Rifle Range. Photo courtesy / Jamestown chapter of the United Sportsmen of North Dakota2 / 2

Members of the Jamestown chapter of United Sportsmen of North Dakota are asking people who use the Pipestem Rifle Range to clean up after themselves.

 Rod Roaldson, member of the Jamestown chapter of United Sportsmen of North Dakota, said the group recently held a cleanup day at the range. Members installed new posts for holding targets and backstops and collected several barrel-loads of trash that were burned.  The group also collected three pickup truck loads of broken glass, aluminum cans, lumber, computer components, a big screen television and more and hauled them to the city dump.

“We did the cleanup about three weeks ago,” Roaldson said. “And we’ll probably go back out there again in the next couple of weeks, and it will be trashed again.”

Any items that can’t be put in a trash dumpster, like old televisions, the United Sportsmen has to pay for when they take it to the dump.

The Pipestem Rifle Range is located near the Pipestem Dam, northwest of Jamestown.

Roaldson said his concern with the continuing problem of people trashing the Pipestem Rifle Range is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the governmental entity that owns the Pipestem land, could shut the range down due to the condition people are leaving it in.

“If we lose the range, where are people going to go shoot?” he said.

Bob Martin, dam manager at Pipestem Dam for the Corps of Engineers, said the public doesn’t realize how much work the United Sportsmen of North Dakota puts into keeping the range open.

“The Corps does very little, as far as maintaining the shooting range. It provides the property,” he said. “The United Sportsmen members are the ones who maintain it, picking up all the debris, putting up the signs, the targets. They are picking up after a minority of people who don’t appreciate what they have here.”

Martin said the range gets a lot of use, especially among law enforcement agencies. He said he has talked with local law enforcement officers who said if the Pipestem Rifle Range wasn’t there, they would have to go to Bismarck or Fargo for shooting practice.

“Pipestem (Rifle) Range has been inspected and approved as a certified National Rifle Association range,” Martin said. “The United Sportsmen needs a huge thank you not just from the Corps for what they do, but from everyone who uses the range.”

Roaldson said the United Sportsmen of North Dakota holds an annual banquet every year and as part of that banquet there is the Pipestem Rifle Range raffle. The profits from the raffle go to covering the cost of maintaining the range.

“We’ve built handicap-accessible target areas out there, put in new concrete forms around the shooting benches,” Roaldson said. “We have an excellent range out there. It’s used by a lot of people.”

Roaldson said the reality is that a minority of people could ruin things for the majority of shooters who use the Pipestem Range.

“We’ll put a new sign up there, two weeks later it is so shot up that you can’t even read it,” he said.

Roaldson said part of the problem is people will take anything out to the range, shoot it full of holes, then leave the debris for others to clean up.

“Sometime there is so much glass laying on the ground out here our (club president), Merle Weatherly, can’t mow the grass,” he said. 

Roaldson said as long as the Corps allows the shooting range to remain at Pipestem Dam, the United Sportsmen of North Dakota will continue to maintain it.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454