The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department has had a firing range at the Guilford County Prison Farm for about four decades and the county has never charged other law enforcement agencies to use the facility but that may be changing.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Guilford County commissioners were surprised to find out that there was no charge for using the facility, and the commissioners instructed Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing to look into implementing a fee for other law enforcement agencies to use the Sheriff’s Department’s range.

The firing range, which is on the old Guilford County Prison Farm property on County Farm Road, is used extensively by law enforcement agencies from across the state as well as by federal law enforcement agencies.

Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Randy Shepherd told the board that just about every surrounding agency within driving distance uses the range.

For about 40 years, since the range was built, those agencies have used the range at no charge. Among the dozen or so users are the Greensboro Police Department, the High Point Police Department, the FBI and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department.

At the Feb. 25 meeting, Commissioner Skip Alston said that, with that facility in high demand, it doesn’t make sense for the county to pay all the costs with no help from other users.

Commissioner Carolyn Coleman didn’t like the idea of the county charging the Greensboro Police Department to use the range.

“Greensboro residents pay county taxes,” she said.

Alston replied, “But Greensboro city government doesn’t.”

Commissioner Alan Branson said that charging users would simply help the county handle maintenance expenses.

“I think the opportunity exists to at least cover the cost,” he said.

Branson said it was his understanding that there are not a lot of other ranges that can offer what the county’s firing range offers.

Commissioner Jeff Phillips said it didn’t make sense to offer the use of the range at no cost.

“I think we are all surprised to find that we are not assessing any type of fee,” Phillips said.

The range is used very heavily and the commissioners commented that that’s no surprise since it was a completely free facility whereas others were likely not.

One commissioner suggested that the county might simply request a donation from users, but Alston didn’t like that idea.

“We got the US Marshals and the FBI using it – they are not going to voluntarily make a donation,” he said.

The board is likely to vote on the matter at a future date. At the retreat there was a broad consensus to implement the fee.