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Ancient Oak Gun Club shooting range approved near outdoor classroom in Lakewood Ranch

4:43 PM, Mar 12, 2013   |    comments
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The distance between the school's learning lab and the Ancient Oak Gun Club range -- nearest corner to nearest corner -- is just shy of a mile at 4,180 feet.
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Lakewood Ranch, Florida - A Manatee County hearing officer approves a gun club in Lakewood Ranch, despite opposition from students and parents at the nearby Center Montessori School they fought to silence their guns.

The gun range is being set up about three-fourths of a mile away from the school's property, more than four times the distance for a bullet from a shot gun to ever travel. 

As such, the issue isn't safety, it's noise.

For many people who drive by the property along State Road 64, it's just an open field... but to the Montessori students, it's their outdoor classroom, a 10-acre "land lab" for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. The students use the land lab a few times a month.

Previous Story: New gun range has parents nervous

"They use the land for agricultural study. They've planted 900 trees on the land, built a gazebo, recycling places. It's a very serene peaceful area," says school principal Mara Fulk.

Fulk's daughter, 11-year-old Kiara, attends the school. 

She says, "It's really pretty. There are lots of trees, but some traffic going by on the road and stuff."

The traffic noise doesn't bother them. What does are the gun shots they will hear when the Ancient Oak Gun Club opens less than a mile away, just southeast of the school's property.

Kiara says, "Knowing there are guns around scares me after all the things that happened in 2012 with guns. Doesn't seem right to have guns near where kids will be."

Yet during an afternoon stop by the rural land lab, 10 News could hear what sounded like gun shots. 

Gun club manager Wayne Evans says that faint, popping sound is what students will likely hear. The 536 acres will serve as a sport shooting range, with 24 shooting stations for shotguns only, and the targets are clay pigeons. 

The gun range is ¾ of a mile away from the school's property, far away enough says 

Evans says a bullet fired from a shotgun can't travel far enough for it to reach the school's property.

Fulk adds, "It's not a safety issue, there's no possible way bullets will penetrate that far away. Our main concern has been and will always be emotional stability of our students."

"I know it's far away and can't hurt me... but I don't like the sound. It sounds like someone is getting hurt," says Kiara.

The gun range is approved for shotguns only. Any other guns would need county approval. Evans says the gun range will open in a couple of months.

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