Lubbock's sole rifle range closes its gates

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 5/25/2012 11:01 pm

The guns are silent and the gates barred to the public at Rustic Range.

"Well I'm ready to quit," Dub Dillard, the Owner said.

Dillard has operated the range for 33 years.

"We've offered a place for people to shoot and practice and zero their rifles for hunting. We also sold guns and ammunition," Dillard said.

Opened 363 days a year, from 1 p.m. to sunset, the grind finally got to Dillard.

"I'm getting older and I didn't figure I could take care of the maintenance. I also need time with my wife and family to be able to do something because it tied us down a lot," Dillard said.   

Dillard's Wife, Wanda, said operating the range hasn't left time for much else.

"Dub has been very dedicated to the range. There hasn't been much of a private and social life,” Wanda said.

"I hope it doesn't inconvenience the shooters and friends that we have. My wife and I feel like it's time to step aside," Dillard said.  

Ron and Rick Betenbough, and a family friend, have stepped up to buy the land. The three work for Betenbough Homes, the mega developer of homes in West Texas.

"We understand why people are concerned that this wont be here anymore. At the same time Dub is doing opportunities like all of us. When he's tired of a business and he's ready to go do something else somebody's going to come along and buy it. He tried for many years to sell it to someone who might operate it as a public range but nobody stepped up to do that," Rick Betenbough, President of Betenbough Homes said.  

The private purchase has made the Betenboughs a target for attack. Shooting enthusiasts have blown up online discussion forums with postings flying like tracer rounds.

One person posted on "They just want to have a private playground that they can charge $1200 per year so that everyone else can stay away and they can play and make a lot of money."

However, Betenbough said there are no plans for home development on the land or to re-open the public range.

"That really requires a full-blown business enterprise. We already have a business that we're all involved in, so that's the reason we won't open it as a public range," Betenbough said.

Although the range is no longer opened for public shooting, Bettenbough said it's shelling out a great business opportunity for someone else.

"Somebody should open a range. They would have a big clientèle that Dub built up for years, right away,” Betenbough said.

Unless that happens shooters will have to find private landowners who are willing to let the lead fly.



4 Comment(s)
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DaBear - 5/27/2012 8:03 PM
0 Votes
Even if they allow established gun clubs to use the range, clubs like Llano Estacado Shooters Association in Wolfforth are "Mebership" full. So basically as someone has stated " There is no place to take your children or grandchildren to shoot" My grandson is devastated because he has a 22/410 combination that he was learning to shoot and gun safety with now there is no place to do that. The Betenbough closure of the range has in effect taken away a learning experience!

Ol Kev - 5/26/2012 9:28 AM
1 Vote
Within the last 6 years in Amarillo, the city built The Amarillo Shooting Complex by the City Landfill. for the police as well as the public. I just sent an email to the members of the Parks and Recreation Board, my city councilman, and the mayor requesting that they study the joint use concept like was done in Amarillo. I referenced the TP&W grant monies and NRA assistance as well. A full blown letter writing campaign can't hurt to encourage them to a the very least explore possibilities. I got a response back from the Chair of the Parks & Recreation Board: "I want to thank you for the email. I am not sure if you have received a response to your email from any of the others that were included, so I want to offer one to you from my perspective. The Parks and Recreation Board is an advisory board appointed by the City Council. We meet each month to hear information and recommendations from the Parks and Recreation staff such as the request that you are making. What I would encourage you to do is make contact with Mr. Randy Truesdell in the Parks and Recreation Department and discuss your request and get the staff's input and recommendation. At some point, after staff has decided the best course of action for your request, it will be placed on the agenda for the Board to review and discuss and make/not make a recommendation to the City Council. If the Board feels that we need additional information, at that time is when we will convene a subcommittee to review the request in more detail and they will bring a presentation back to the entire Board." I hope others will follow and contact Truesdell and let him know your

shargis - 5/26/2012 9:21 AM
0 Votes
I discovered additional information since my last post. Apparently tbe Betenbough's plan is to turn the Rustic Range property into a private ranch and wil only allow established and insured shooting clubs to use the range. This was not mentioned in the Betenbough interview. The new owners have a right to do what they want with the property but why not be honest with the public? He was truthful in the interview but withheld some information. There is a difference between being truthful and being honest. Hopefully someone with the means necessary will step up and

shargis - 5/26/2012 1:34 AM
1 Vote
What a sad loss for the Lubbock area. I have enjoyed shooting at Rustic Range for many years and will miss it greatly. My son learned how to shoot at Rustic and now shares my passion. What I understand from this news report is that the new owners bought the property as an investment and have no intention of re-opening the range themselves but encourage someone to open a range somewhere else as an opportunity. That is the saddest part. Rustic is already set up for rifle, pistol, and shotgun shooting and is ideal for an opportunity. I would implore Betenbough's to consider their stance and the impact that this decision will make on Lubbock. Fathers and sons now have absolutely no where to go shoot. As for Dub and Wanda, I wish you the best of luck in all that you do. Thank you for your unselfish devotion to the West Texas area for the last 33 years. We will miss you. Sheldon Hargis
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