New plans for World Shooting and Recreational Complex - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

New plans for World Shooting and Recreational Complex

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SPARTA (WSIL) -- Leaders throughout the state are planning to improve the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Randolph County with the help of students from Southern Illinois University. 

Tens of thousands of visitors use the Sparta complex each year. 

The World Shooting and Recreational Complex is home to more than 1,600 acres, four lakes, 1001 campsites and lots of shooting ranges, but now there's the possibility of even more amenities and events coming to the campus. 

Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Colleen Callahan along with other state leaders announced on Monday what their plan is for the future, like adding cabins. 

"We would have to consider exactly where they would be located and what construction material we might use," Callahan said. 

One of the other plans is to add a walk-up shooting range which would allow visitors to use their firearm at leisure instead of only using it during an event. 

There is also the possibility of adding more ranges. 

"People said they would like to see the World Shooting and Recreational Complex to be more used more daily in the community, rather than just event by event," Callahan said. 

Currently thousands of participants are in Sparta for the 120th Grand American World Trapshooting Championship.

Callahan said this event brings more than 10,000 people to the complex. 

"If we can identify ways that we can keep the complex open for all kinds of different activities, that means 10,000 people plus a year," Callahan said. "People tell me we have a gem of facility in southern Illinois."

The strategic planning of the complex started with Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, after he found out there was no future goals for the complex. 

That's when Schimpf made the decision to ask the local university to help with research.

"If I can get SIU Carbondale to do the study and get IDNR to cooperate with each other, we don't need legislation," Schimpf said. "If we work together, we can come up with a strategic plan."

Last year during the Grand American World Trapshooting Championship, surveys were filled out by visitors, asking what they would like to see at the complex.

Schimpf said the university did the research with no cost to the state, but as service to southern Illinois. 

"We found that we do need to continue some infrastructure improvements and add some extended berms," Schimpf said. "We could also use a few more shelters."

Schimpf said there is no timeline for the improvements, but believes this is the right time to start asking for funding. 

"I know the administration of Gov. Pritzker has said that they are looking to make more of an investment to the Department of Natural Resources and the timing couldn't be better," Schimpf said.

SIU Interim Chancellor John Dunn said this opportunity opens doors for SIU and their students. 

"The universities exist to help our communities, to help our region and to help our state," Dunn said. "The internships, externships offered to the students and helps them understand that we are serious about our environment and sustainability."

During Monday's meeting, leaders also discussed strategic plans for Pyramid State Recreational Area in Perry County. 

Some of those plans include building new cabins and campsite infrastructure.

Find the reports for Pyramid State Recreational Area and World Shooting and Recreational Complex below. 

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