Study: Noise at gun park falls within accepted threshold

Firearms shot at Clark County’s gun park generated less noise at the nearest residential properties than the 56 decibels allowed, according to results from a county sound test.

A consultant in November tested noise from shotguns, pistols and rifles as large as .50 caliber at the 2,900-acre site north of where Decatur Boulevard ends. Construction of the $64 million first phase is under way.

But results from the $40,000 test didn’t quell discontent among the park’s staunchest opponents, who have gone to court to try to stop the project. The homeowners contend the county should have done more to inform them about the potentially disruptive shooting park when they moved to a nearby subdivision over the past several years.

Don Turner, the county’s shooting park manager, said he made sure the test, whose results were released last week, was done independently so that it would be beyond reproach.

"It just proves our design was valid," Turner said. "We weren’t surprised."

The park’s first phase should be finished in June, he said. That part will have 24 trap and skeet fields, 60 rifle and pistol positions, and a 20-target archery range.

It also will include an education center, pro shop, cafeteria and convenience store, and 78 hookups for recreational vehicles.

To gauge the noise, two receptors were placed 5 feet above ground on two vacant parcels a mile from where most firearms were shot. The .50-caliber rifles were fired almost two miles away at the spot where that shooting range will be built, Turner said.

Twelve shotguns fired together produced 47 decibels at one receptor.

No single firearm exceeded 45 decibels, the equivalent of a quiet urban setting at night, according to the study. That figure is 11 decibels lower than the limit established by the county.

Tyson Wrench, a resident and shooting park critic, said the county’s noise test lacked credibility.

Residents hired University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor Doug Reynolds to run simulated tests on a computer. He estimated that gunfire would be 70 to 102 decibels at the nearest homes, Wrench said. Reynolds did not conduct any field testing.

"To have the county come back and say 40 decibels — that is questionable," Wrench said.

Turner said he was aware of the disparity between the two test results. "So that will have to play out in court," he said.

Residents filed for an injunction and a restraining order in federal court to stop work. They await a ruling.

They said the county never properly notified homeowners about plans to install firing ranges, and it failed to do a federal environmental impact study, though it received money from the Bureau of Land Management for the park.

During a hearing Thursday, an attorney for the residents, Matthew Callister, who refers to the park as a "shooting Disneyland" because of its size, was told to include the BLM as a party to the motion to force the county to perform an environmental impact study.

Deputy District Attorney Rob Warhola said that the county does not do such studies and that they must be conducted by the federal agency.

A status hearing was scheduled for March 5. While the complaint chugs along in federal court, the park’s first phase could be finished by the time a ruling is rendered.

Theresa Nolan, a resident, said she appreciates that the county did a noise study, but she remains distrustful.

"It is in my backyard," Nolan said. "I’m disappointed in the way it came about. It’s our cross to bear."

Nolan, who is not involved in the lawsuit, said she is still concerned about how safe the gun park will be.

As the park progresses, Turner said, more structures will be built and landscaping planted, all of which will muffle the sound.

Also, noise from the neighborhood will mask the gunshots, he said, adding that in the daytime, such noise can run from 60 to 65 decibels.

"Depending on car traffic, who’s mowing the grass and whose dog is barking," he said.

Reporter Adrienne Packer contributed to this report. Contact reporter Scott Wyland at or 702-455-4519.

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