Proposed expansions on Libby’s Airport Firearms Range

By Brian Baxter


The Libby Ranger District of the Kootenai National Forest would like local comments and suggestions on the Airport Firearms Range Project. Lincoln County is the holder of a special use permit authorizing a multiple discipline sports shooting range on National Forest System Lands.

The County has proposed improving safety operations to the visiting public on 4.9 acres that is currently not authorized under their special use permit. This area would facilitate increased parking and the construction of beams, targets, and benches providing enhanced safety and noise reduction.

There would be selective removal of Timber within the new area. The development area additional facilities would be authorized under an amendment to the County’s existing special use permit. No new use other than current shooting disciplines would be allowed.

Mike Cirian and the other volunteer instructors at the shooting range in Libby are serious about teaching the serious subjects of safe firearms handling and shooting.

As Cirian stated, “Teaching kids the proper use of firearms is important. Firearms, like any other tool are only as safe as the training they have had to use these tools. Some kids do not come from traditional backgrounds, like athletic groups, and are looking for something they can find a niche in and this range is a place where that can happen with proper facilities and proper mentoring.”

We are fortunate to have so many dedicated instructors in our area to help local kids. Many are military veterans, long time shooting and hunting sportsmen and women, who give their sincere best volunteer time to help these individuals learn not only safe and accurate shooting, but good sportsmanship.

The new expansion proposal includes plans to build an area for shorter shooting events with berms which will be very safe and encourage better controls at the range. Also, the combination of berms, targets, and trees planted will absorb the sound and make a more quiet scenario for shooters as well as alleviate sound problems for the benefit of neighbors near the range.

If approved, work will begin in the spring and will be coordinated by Lincoln County, the Forest Service, and an all volunteer crew, as well as local contractors. The comment period on this 4.9 acre proposal is now open.

Comments, concerns or suggestions can be sent to Nathan Gassmann at the Libby Ranger District, 12557 Hwy 37, Libby, MT 59923. You can also call Nathan at 293-7773. Electronic comments can be submitted to in MS Word, Word Perfect or RFT. The subject line must contain the name of the project for which you are submitting comments. When commenting, please include your name, address, organization represented (if any), and specific facts related rationale concerning this project that you feel should be considered. Comments received in response to this solicitation including names and address (mailing and/or email) of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record and will be available for public inspection. Please provide comments by January 31, 2019.

The Airport Firearms Range Project is located at T29n, R30W, Section 7, PMM.

Covered long range shooting benches at the existing facility Airport Firearms Range Project located at T29n, R30W, Section 7, PMM. Of Kootenai National Forest in Libby, Mont.

Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian

Map of Airport Firearms Range Project area in the Kootenai National Forest, in Libby, Mont. Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service– Kootenai National Forest.