EAST TAWAS – With the closest public shooting ranges outside of Iosco County being in Alpena and Glennie, the Iosco Sportsmen’s Club offers a truly unique experience for local residents.
President Perry Yannaki said there is a range in East Tawas, which opened in 1947, and one in Oscoda, that opened in 2006, both of which are owned by the Iosco Sportsmen’s Club.
The location in Oscoda, known as the Wurtsmith range, is sprawled out over 51 acres, according to club treasurer and membership chairman Bob Michaelis.
Visitors to the Oscoda location can enjoy rifle shooting from distances of 25, 50, 100, 300 and 600 yards.
There is also a wide variety of pistol, shotgun and archery opportunities at this location.
According to the club’s website, the Wurtsmith range is host to such activities as steel plate pistol shoots, matches for both the 300- and 600-yard ranges, monthly vintage rifle matches and plenty more.
The shotgun range features trap, skeet and 5-Stand, while archery enthusiasts can choose between 3-D targets or flat shooting into bales.
Michaelis said the Wurtsmith range is open to the public in the summer months, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Friday through Sunday.
“To members, it’s open seven days a week, in the daylight hours. There’s no night shooting,” he added.
The ranges in both locations are open to members all year-round, and the East Tawas venue also offers public hours on the weekends in the summer months.
Michaelis said that rifle shooting is available at the range in East Tawas, with 25-, 50- and 100-yard options, in addition to a pistol range.
Summer shooting events at this location include 50-yard, .22 rimfire matches; 100-yard benchrest score matches with custom, factory and factory modified classes; .22 pistol bullseye matches; and others.
Michaelis said one of the main goals of the club is to promote safe shooting and hunting, which is evident with the variety of classes available at the ranges.
Interested persons can take a one-day, concealed pistol license class, or even take part in International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) shooting.
Michaelis said the IDPA lessons feature various scenarios which participants practice for home invasion incidents, or situations which may occur while out in public.
He said that those from the Iosco Sportsmen’s Club also work frequently with 4-H youth, and offer such activities as indoor BB gun shooting in the winter and .22 shooting on the outdoor range in East Tawas in the summers.
The club – which currently boasts more than 200 members – has also chipped in and helped sponsor the 4-H’ers who have attended national shooting competitions.
Michaelis added that club members are trying to start another shotgun series for 4-H participants, if they can get some interested students and volunteers on board.
“We also actively support Hunter Safety, and one of our members runs that program. And we just donated 10, brand-new .22 rifles,” he continued.
Further, the club offers sight-in days at both locations, roughly two weeks before the start of firearm deer season in the state, which is available to both members and the public for $7 per gun.
“It’s where hunters can come in and sight in their rifles and get ready for rifle season,” Michaelis explained. “And we had quite a few shooters this year.”
Club members also organize different fundraisers, such as the Frozen Chosen shooting event, which is held each year during the weekend of the Perchville USA winter festival.
The Frozen Chosen event is typically carried out with antique military guns, and proceeds raised during the occasion are given to the American Legion Color Guard.
Another goal of the club is to be as accommodating to the community as possible, with Michaelis noting that improvements are constantly being made to each of the facilities.
For example, a new sidewalk was installed at the East Tawas range this year, in an effort to make the area more handicap accessible.
A membership in the Iosco Sportsmen’s Club allows participants access to both ranges, seven days a week, and includes the member’s spouse, as well as any children 18 and younger who are still living at home.
The club’s website reads that the only limitation to this is during the sight-in days.
With the host of activities available at each venue, both members and those from the public are encouraged to check the club’s online calendar to ensure when a range is open, and to find out at which site an activity will be held.
Those interested in becoming a member can complete an application online at www.ioscosportsmen.com, in person at either range or by mailing the form and payment to Iosco Sportsmen’s Club, P.O. Box 47, East Tawas, MI 48730.
The Wurtsmith range is located at 2827 Rea Rd. in Oscoda, behind the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, and the contact number is 820-0713.
The East Tawas range is located at 1600 N. US-23, next to Jay’s RV, and members can be reached by dialing 362-6275.
Iosco Sportsmen’s Club Board Member Cary Lichtman stressed that people don’t have to be hunters to be involved with the group.
He said that shooting is actually a rather relaxing activity, especially when one is challenging him or herself and not competing against others.
For more information, visit www.ioscosportsmen.com. It is stated here that the club was established for the purpose of fostering conservation, as well as promoting and educating in the area of sportsmanship, camaraderie, fairness and safety in all aspects of outdoor sports.