Stray Bullet Leads to Safety Improvements at West Liberty Gun Range

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

WEST LIBERTY, Iowa - A stray bullet has caused a West Liberty gun range to beef up its safety measures. That's because the bullet hit a nearby home.

The incident happened August 4th. The West Liberty Gun Club was hosting a pistol match at their ranges just to the west of town.

Police think someone fired a stray 9mm bullet from one of the Gun Club's north facing ranges. It traveled over the earthen berms, sailed about a third of a mile, and then broke through the window of a home on North Elm.

"It had landed on a bookshelf near the front of the home," said Chief of Police Lawrence McNaul.

Chief McNaul said it's one of the stranger things he's seen, even after 22 years of law enforcement.

"I've done a lot of competition shooting myself, in my earlier years. It's truly an accident," said McNaul.

Nobody was hurt and police aren't seeking charges. But it was still too close of call for the president of the West Liberty Gun Club, David Kelzenberg. He said this is the first time a bullet has escaped one of their ranges in the about 40 years they've been there.

"We're very concerned about this incident and very regretful that it happened," said Kelzenberg.

Kelzenberg has halted practical shooting matches, in which people rapidly fire at a target, at all of the north facing ranges until safety improvements can be made. For the most part that means building the berms on the north ranges taller with dirt or a wall, plus making safety briefings before matches more in-depth.

"We really do not want to see a recurrence of this incident ever again," said Kelzenberg. "We are doing as much as we possibly can to prevent that from happening."

No timetable has been set for making the changes. Officials are still investigating their options, but said they want to get things back to normal as soon as possible.
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