The Bismarck-Mandan Rifle and Pistol Association (BMRPA) traces its roots back to 1966 when the Bismarck Revolver and Pistol Club organized. The club merged with the Missouri Valley Rifleman in 1981, and then changed its name to the Bismarck-Mandan Rifle and Pistol Association. Over the years, the BMRPA sponsored bullseye pistol, handgun, rifle silhouette matches and other shooting sports events. Bullseye pistol events were held at local police or National Guard ranges. Silhouette matches were held on public firearm ranges south of Bismarck. The BMRPA had a small but loyal following of competitive shooters. We always wanted to have our own club facilities so we could grow our membership base and expand the shooting sports opportunities in the region. However, it is challenging to grow an organization when you don’t have club owned facilities.
Change began in 1992 when the BMRPA initiated a junior marksmanship program. The North Dakota Army National Guard (NDANG) and the Bismarck Parks and Recreation Department were extremely helpful in assisting the junior program by providing equipment and range access. The BMRPA also started leasing the NDANG range for adult shooting programs. The BMRPA still did not possess any shooting ranges and support facilities; however, by providing several additional shooting sports activities, the BMRPA was beginning to grow its membership and expand.
The BMRPA enjoyed a rather robust and dramatic change in 1999 when Marlin and Leanne Fried, owners of Gun City, a local gun shop in Bismarck, generously donated 50 acres of their family farmland near Moffit to the BMRPA. Members of the BMRPA excitedly broke ground on the outdoor firing range in 2000. After several years of vigorous efforts by the membership, the BMRPA began enjoying a full-fledged outdoor shooting sports facility. The Fried Family Marksmanship Complex (FFMC) outdoor range features a 16 firing point 1000 yard highpower range complete with target pits and a target shed; an 18 firing point 50 yard bullseye pistol range with 25 yard turning targets; a 300 foot wide covered firing line with target backstops at 25, 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards; 13 concrete shooting benches; handgun and rifle silhouette ranges from 25 to 500 meters; a Cowboy Action shooting area; a club house; a picnic area; a maintenance shop; and an outdoor restroom. The BMRPA now had a place in which to expand shooting sports opportunities and programs, a place to call home.
But we weren’t done…
Winters are long in North Dakota. Spring, summer, and fall can be fleeting which prolongs the winter season. What we needed in addition to the FFMC range was an indoor shooting range. After years of productive volunteer effort constructing the FFMC, the membership turned to the task of building an indoor shooting range. A vast array of planning meetings and fundraising efforts ensued long before any dirt was turned. Finally, the BMRPA secured a building site in south Bismarck in 2006. The BMRPA signed a cost share agreement with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to access Pittman-Robertson federal aid grant funding for shooting range construction. Intense fundraising efforts so as to achieve the 25% cost share requirement were extraordinarily successful. The BMRPA broke ground on the indoor facility in November 2006.
The Bismarck City occupancy permit for the Johnson Family Marksmanship Center (JFMC) was approved on February 20, 2009. The Johnson family generously provided key matching funding. The BMRPA owns the best civilian indoor shooting sports facility in the region. Rather than constructing a customary 50-foot indoor range, the BMRPA constructed a 16-firing point, 50-meter Olympic indoor facility, complete with classroom, kitchen, cleaning/storage room, firearm security vault, main office, scoring office and restrooms. The facility is fully handicap accessible and includes a state-of-the-art “Action Target” Total Containment Trap structure replete with EPA and OSHA approved air handling systems.
The JFMC is the result of tremendously successful efforts, including volunteer construction/building skills underscoring a labor of love and liberal financial contributions from the BMRPA membership. Yet again, this includes a noteworthy contribution from Bruce and Judy Johnson garnering naming rights of the indoor shooting range facility. The Johnson family’s contribution was strategic in getting us “over the hump” in the fundraising efforts, thus allowing the project to move to fruition. The BMRPA extends a gigantic thank you to our general contractor, Jeff Ternes, owner of Ternes Construction, Mandan, North Dakota. Jeff donated countless hours of service during the planning and construction phases of the project. BMRPA also thanks numerous Bismarck/Mandan area businesses for their contributions of funds and equipment to the project.
BMRPA thanks the North Dakota Army National Guard and the Bismarck Parks and Recreation Department for their assistance and cooperation during many years of using their range facilities. BMRPA thanks the then Director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Dean Hildebrand, and several staff, for their vision and trust in the capability of the BMRPA and for their guidance during the construction of the indoor facility.
Again, the BMRPA wishes to offer gratitude to Marlin and Leanne Fried who donated the land for the FFMC outdoor range. Without this donation to energize the membership base, none of this would have been possible. We are deeply indebted to Marlin and Leanne Fried for their contribution.
Additionally, the BMRPA cannot state enough the robust and key donation from Bruce and Judy Johnson and family. Bruce and Judy made it happen.
In closing, the development of the JFMC and FFMC was attained by the BMRPA which assembled the key integral workings of Land, Loot, Leadership, and Location. The association has matured into a top-of-the-line, secure, regional focal point for civilian shooting enthusiasts, member and non-member alike.