Londonderry doesn’t offer example for Brox target shooting proposal

MILFORD – Recreational shooters who want a town-sanctioned target range on the Brox property have been asked by selectmen to provide a detailed plan.

That plan would include information on target shooting in Londonderry, where it had been said that target shooting is allowed on conservation land. But Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith told The Cabinet last week there is no designated target shooting area on town-owned land.

In 2015, the Londonderry Town Council passed an ordinance banning shooting in the 1,000-acre Musquash Conservation Area, except during deer and turkey hunting season – and only by licensed hunters using only firearms allowed during hunting season.

The area has an extensive marked trail system. The ordinance came in response to complaints about shooting and after a task force studied the issue.

Smith said target shooting is allowed during hunting season so the hunters can sight their rifles.

Londonderry’s police chief had supported the ban.

The town gets many fewer complaints now, Smith said.

“There was talk about designating a target-shooting area within Musquash,” he said, but it would “just seem to invite more behavior we were trying to curb.”

Musquash is a popular hiking area.

“People didn’t like walking near gunfire,” Smith said.

Councilors passed the ordinance in September 2015. They had intended to put the question on a warrant article for March 2016, but, Smith said, the ordinance seemed to be working, so they didn’t feel an article was necessary.

Milford selectmen asked police to draft a rule after Milford Police Chief Michael Viola and Capt. Craig Frye told the board in February they want some kind of legal standing so they can ask people to stop shooting when someone complains.

Selectmen said they prefer a rule instead of an ordinance, because an ordinance would mean seasonal hunting would have to stop on all of Brox’s 270 acres.

The group of target shooters is expected to provide a plan for a target shooting area that shows hours of the day and days of the week when the sport would be allowed, as well as plans for keeping the area clean and dealing with noise.

Chris Skinner, a member of the group, said he is aware of the shooting restrictions in Londonderry, but he said Musquash has no large berm and Milford’s Brox property does have a large berm, which makes target shooting safer.

The Milford board is divided on the issue. Selectman Gary Daniels says the proposed rule might violate an RSA that gives the state ultimate control over guns laws. And target shooting, he said, poses fewer safety risks than football, skateboarding and other town-sanctioned recreational activities.

Other selectmen say the town has a right to control what happens on the property, and having Heron Pond Elementary School nearby makes shooting at Brox worrisome.

The issue was tabled until June 26.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.