Residents claim shooters off target

By Darrell Wacker -

VANDALIA — A resident on Brown School Road claimed that bullets from the Miami Valley Shooting Grounds are leaving the gun range and going over his property.

The claims were made to the Vandalia City Council on Monday.

Jamie Spencer and his girlfriend Dianne Sicotte say that on at least five occasions they could hear what they believed to be bullets while in their yard.

In a written statement, they described the sound as a “whistle” and said the sound is very distinct.

“It sounds like a bottle rocket,” said Sicotte.

Spencer, who described himself as a gun enthusiast, believes the problem stems from shooters firing into a hill at the range located on Johnson Station Road.

Spencer also told council that “people are walking around shooting without supervision. It’s a matter of time before somebody gets hurt.”

Erik Blaine, an attorney representing the Shooting Grounds, categorically denied that.

“The range employs five full-time range officers,” he said. “We have not had any evidence presented to us in the form of projectiles.”

Dana Tackett, who owns the Shooting Grounds, said that he’s given up four shooting positions to enclose the range due to an “overabundance of caution.”

“Everyone (shooting) is required to sit on a bench and an RO (Range Officer) is there with them making sure they are on target,” said Tackett. “You couldn’t hit his (Spencer’s) property if you wanted to.”

Spencer also complained about noise from the range with shooting near 10 p.m. despite having posted hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ohio law permits gun ranges to be open until 10 p.m.

Tacket said the only time shooters are at the property past 7 p.m. is when local law enforcement use the range for training.

“I want to be a good neighbor and want to be responsive to the community about noise and shooting late,” said Tackett. “We have done that twice in the past 18 months and it was police departments that needed to learn how to shoot in the dark. I’m not going to tell them no.”

Vandalia police have received four complaints from Spencer and Sicotte since May according to records received from the police department. Three of those four complaints were about bullets flying over and one, on Sept. 22, was about night shooting.

When an officer arrived at the range on that date at 9:44 p.m., he found a class from the Edison Police Academy doing training. They finished their shooting before 10 p.m.

According to Police Chief Doug Knight, no evidence has been found to substantiate the claims regarding bullets.

“We have recovered no bullets,” he said.

Spencer was meeting with the City Attorney on Monday evening, and Tackett said that he had reached out to him as well in conversations and by giving him his personal phone number.

“We want to be good neighbors,” he said.

By Darrell Wacker

Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.

Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.