GALIVANTS FERRY (WMBF) - The long, highly debated county gun range topic finally has a conclusion. Horry County Council agreed to approve permits for a privately-owned gun range and sporting facility in Galivants Ferry Tuesday night.
It will be called Echo 6 Shooting Park. Its 52 acres of land are located about a half mile off Page Road.
Steve Slavik, a veteran and gun shop owner, owns the land and offered to build a gun range, answering the county's long search for additional shooting facilities.
He said having his own shooting range is something he's thought about for a long time.
"You go out there and you sit on a deer stand on the 52 acres now and you can't even hunt on a Saturday because it sounds like a war zone out there. People shooting in every direction," Slavik said.
That's exactly the problem the county is hoping to fix with a range. Adding it will give people a place to responsibly and safely shoot under supervision.
Slavik said his deal with the county is more or less a deal to provide extra firearm training.
"The county was very strict when we sat down. We've had numerous meetings with the county. For lack of better words, they didn't want a range where people would just show up drinking, shooting birds off the telephone poles," Slavik said. "We're still finalizing the membership cost, but we're going to make it as low a cost as possible, and that cost will turn around and be reinvested back into the facility."
He added it will be a controlled, up-to-code environment with National Rifle Association-certified instructors. Slavik described his range as 'the only outdoor, sanctioned range in the county.'
Slavik said the facility will be the new shooting and training ground for the Horry County Police Department and Sheriff's Office. It will also be open to the public, and provide special classes like a home defense class. Slavik and his business partner also plan to work closely with Horry County's Boy Scout troops.
If you take a look at the blueprint of the range, you can see the outline of the gun range on the left. A clay pigeon shotgun range will also be built in addition to a special training grounds area with private fencing for law enforcement training. A gift shop and parking will also be built.
Slavik said it's estimated to cost over $500,000 now, and most materials are ordered. He said it should be built within a couple of months, and he and his business partner are clearing the land and building the range themselves.
According to Slavik, some people expressed concern that a gun range would disrupt the community. He disagrees.
"If you have a training facility, you're going to have more law enforcement out there, more law enforcement out there reduces crime, reducing crime makes a better community," he said.
Slavik showed WMBF News aerial satellite images of the area, with only a few trailers a quarter mile away from the entrance. There are no homes or developments within seven-and-a-half miles of the shooting direction of the range.
He did agree that the trailers within a half mile will hear a muffled sound.
Slavic said he's not concerned over people trying to develop the forested land the gun range will be facing.
"This is the same land that flooded over the past two years. For somebody to develop to put houses there would almost be criminal neglect, because we have a known fact that that area floods," he said. "We have a known fact it's going to cause damage to property. Also it's not zoned for housing back there, it's zoned agricultural. There's nothing but trees behind us. From our firing position to the closest structure down range is seven-and-a-half miles."