Trail Glade Ranges, The Sports Park Beautiful
from the 20th Annual Flamingo Open Pistol Championship 1957
Jut how did this splendid public tax-supported park come about? These spacious lawns and bright blue skies, waving palms, modern facilities and superb sportsman accommodations did not ‘just happen’.
Indeed not, they are the result of long-range planning and a determination to keep the shooting sport alive, and to encourage the youth of our area in the true and proper use of firearms – the American tradition.
Here, everyone interested in the legal and proper use of firearms, for practice, or for the more advanced forms of competition in their chosen sport, may enjoy southFlorida’s fabulous climate surrounded by the best that a progressive park department can make available. It is without any doubt a shooters paradise, as it has been so often referred to by our thousands of guests from the north, who have come here to enjoy the ultimate in well organized, but friendly, competition,
Here, lazy but friendly ‘gators’ swim silently closer to receive any food offering that the interested tourists and Floridians alike care to toss to them.
Many varieties of edible fishes around in this deep quiet sixteen hundred foot body of water, provided you have a true fisherman’s patience, and have picked the right ‘bait’.
The colorful covered firing line, the well-kept range lawns and the green-grassed retaining walls give the competitions a perfect foreground and backstop, against which to shoot.
This view of the combined trap and skeet ranges, embraces just one half of this most modern layout.
There are four, complete, combined, electrically operated fields. All buildings, including the storage building serving as buffers between the fields, walks and other facilities are concrete and of the latest design.
The shooter fires over the vast flat miles of the everglades, with a perfect blue sky background.
The trap houses are built on small peninsulas projecting into the quiet lake that surrounds the entire shooting area. The walks and well-kept lawns are the finest to be found in the country.
How was all this done, and for the first time in the entire country? Well, it was done! And can be done again. However, it will be possible only when you have that perfect combination of a live-wire public body, such as out board of county commissioners, composed of men who realize the importance of the sport, the need for a public park of this nature, and who are implemented by a progressive, forward looking and aggressive park director, who is willing to plan and create such a facility. And to this, a determined group of sports people backing a man with some vision and understanding of the needs of those who participate in the sports, who has ideas and ideals and you have such a park. Once you get it, us it, improve it and above all – keep it!
Let’s take a stroll and look over the “TrailGladesRanges” of today
We will start from the native coral rock observation tower where we can get a good view of the entire layout.
We must remember that this park is in the very heart of theEvergladesand had to be ‘filled’ from an average of 4-feet, to an elevation of 8.5 feet, so as to be safely above flood levels. This was a bold undertaking, but eventually accomplished.
From up here we can get a good view of the lagoon, and part of the picnic grounds – back there, among the palms and tropical shrubs, is this very sociable “coffee shop”, where all the snacks and cold drinks, etc., can be had at all times. This cool and modern spot is often used for club meetings and other social events, and is usually ‘headquarters’ for all the “bull sessions”.
On the west lawn at the rear of the combined pistol and rifle firing line, is the very modern combined Range Officer’s Stand Statistical Office and main restroom. Above that, in the distance, is the country’s most up-to-date combined trap and skeet range. It is a beautiful facility with well-kept lawns and trees.
A bit closer to the trap and skeet area, from the tower, we see the pool in the foreground is at normal glade level and is a haven for wild duck, coots and wading birds, which rapidly become used to the sound of firing and literally feed under the muzzles of the shotguns. Fish are everywhere for the taking.
Coming back again to the seventy point firing line which can be converted from rifle use to pistol in less than an hour, and visa versa for any ‘big time’ tournament use, we find ample proof of the well kept lawns and facilities.
The same range set up for 100-yards for smallbore rifle. It is converted into a 50-yard pistol match with the ‘rolling targets’ ready to move to all recognized ranges as in the “Sawgrass” or the “Flamingo”. It’s as simple as that!
The 17 acres of beautiful lawn are dressed up by the colorful striped awnings covering the firing line where it is a simple matter to get that lazy vacation time feeling whenever you come out to enjoy this shooters paradise.
Please notice that the range is equipped with very modern aluminum folding chairs, sturdy picnic tables and every other convenience that the most particular shooter could wish for.
We’ve mentioned the Coffee Shop nestling among the palms on the banks of the Lagoon, be we haven’t gone inside for a ‘snack’. Sometimes it is quiet and cool, other times its fairly jumping with enthusiastic people from all over the nation. Shooters and just some everyday people.
Everybody patronizes the Snack Bar, young and old. You’ll meet old friends and new here.
You will meet old buddies here, like Captain ‘Dick’ Hanson, ofMarylandand Handsome ‘Herb’ Hollister, one of the new NRA directors, fromBoulder,Colorado. Yeah, you even meet guys like Al Freeland ofRock Island,Illinois.
Oh yes, we have cool shade and balmy breezes and tropical sunshine and do those Yankees love it!
Please notice as we go along, these smallbore bugs shoot lying down and rest standing up, while out pistol friends do the opposite.
Even though everyone is urged to use and enjoy these marvelous facilities, there must be interested one, and some sponsoring organizations, to formulate plans, arrange training programs, and to conduct tournaments. The Dade County Sports Park Association coordinates the activities of the ‘home Clubs’ and we see a new and important ground in action. The Florida State Rifle Association’s electing offers, make plans for the 1957-1958 season, under the inspiration of one of the ‘salts’ of the earth, Frank L. Wyman, official NRA representative.
All of these organizations, which represent every branch of the shooting world, as well as archery, skisk, air-boating are the ‘heartbeat’ of the Park. By cooperating with the Dade County Commission and the Dade County Parks Department, we feel we present an unbeatable team, and in every way we feel we justify the tax dollars that have made this park possible.
Sometimes we have more than 300 rapid shooters, who swarm down on us taking over the whole park and shoot up the whole works for a week at a time. That is what the layout is for — more power to them. We then have the smaller, though equally as enthusiastic groups who shoot and play and yet they still turn out National Records. This is the ideal spot to revive old friendships and make new ones. There is just something in the air—
However, for the greater portion of the time, the ranges are the gathering sports for young couples, newlyweds or just courting, who are interested in the sport of shooting and the club atmosphere.
Or, often as not, whole families like the ‘shooting torschs” who believe the sport is good for every member of the family and prove it every weekend. It is fun for everybody, so why shouldn’t the whole family be interested?
We told you how we shift and convert the Range from rifle to pistol and back again, well sometimes we clear the entire range when some other exhibition shooter puts on a special exhibition. For instance, the first Atom Bomb was to be exploded on the Gold Coast of Florida. It was a blast.
Of course, we have sent a bill of his sponsors for replacement of a 30-foot area of new lawn left by the blast.
I doubt seriously if we have overlooked a thing for your comfort and convenience.
We must admit that we are not able to squeeze in a conventional landing field or strip for visiting flyers, but our Marine Corps and Coast Guard friends do drop in by ‘copter’ now and then , and if they are in a good frame of mine, they dust off our parking lots and driveways. Mighty efficient as a sweeper, you can be sure.
During the 1957 Flamingo Open Pistol Championships, we were honored by a visit from Lieutenant General, Floyd L. Parks, US Army (Ret.), the Executive Director of the National Rifle Association of America. His purpose was to greet the competitors and giveTrailGladeRangesa close inspection.
All too soon, the general’s allotted time flew by. We did get some work done on the new big bore range plans and then the Marine Corps chopper arrived to take the general to his waiting plane. We discussed the shooting game and its future and the visit was a complete success from our point of view. The general was well pleased with the situation inSouth Floridaand was in hearty accord with the views of both Col. Lepping as NRA referee gave us a hearty handshake to seal the deal and we honestly feel we are on the right path for the future of the shooting game in this area.
We said goodbye to a grand man, in whose hands we feel the Association and everything it stands for is safe and headed for a glorious future.
The Palmetto Pistol Club ofMiami
This Club has assumed all the responsibility for the Pistol Division under the special Park setup, under whichTrailGladeRangesfunctions with the aid of the Dade County Sports Park Association, which assigns certain duties and responsibilities on the carious shooting clubs in theDadeCountyarea for Training, control and competitive programming.