By Jessica Creagan
SEBASTIAN -- Indian River County administrators announced the county shooting range would be the site of a top-level, private industry shooting competition next summer.
The 2014 Shooting Industry Masters, a tournament for CEOs and other officials in the firearms industry, will be held at the Indian River County shooting range in Sebastian the weekend of July 18, 2014. The two day event is expected to bring in more than 400 families to the area, said Mike Zito, assistant county administrator.
Holden Kriss, range manager, said the annual tournament is always put out for bid and this year, he asked the county be given an opportunity to enter. Between the outstanding facility, scheduled improvements coming to the range in the next few months and the warm reception tournament organizers received during a site visit, Indian River County won the bid, he said.
The tournament will include events using shotgun, handgun and rifles, as well as matches where competitors won't know the shooting course until just before the competition, Mr. Kriss said.
As part of the deal, Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach will host a reception, there will be an associated event for tournament participants at Captain Hiram's, and an awards banquet at the Indian River County Fairgrounds.
The event will be recorded, and could eventually be aired on television, Mr. Zito said.
The participants will be celebrities, Olympic-level shooters and high0level executives in the shooting industry, such as from Colt and Remington, Mr. Kriss said.
The event organizers will provide the guns and ammunition for the event. Mr. Kriss estimated that 500,000 rounds of ammunition will be shot during the event.
Starting in January, the range will be undergoing construction in various places on the grounds to make the facility even better, Mr. Kriss said.
Among the many planned improvements are skeet and trap shooting improvements and a new classroom facility for education courses.
Indian River County commissioners all responded positively to the news and thanked county staff for going above and beyond the call of duty to bring Indian River County to such a high profile among shooting and firearm industry professionals.
Commissioner Wesley Davis said several years ago he was strongly leaning toward allowing some of the county's public use facilities, of which the range is one, to be privatized, but since that time, county staff have made intentional decisions about using the facilities to their maximum potential, as evidenced by the announcement of the tournament.
"We're going to be booked," Commissioner Davis said.
Because the tournament will be hosted in Indian River County, industry magazines with advertisements for the tournament will have to mention Indian River County, thereby raising the profile of this community, a major plus, all the commissioners agreed.
Commissioner Bob Solari said he was looking forward to seeing the "blip" in future economic impact reports due to the tournament.
Mr. Kriss, Indian River County officials and directors of the Treasure Coast Sports Commission worked together to present the bid, which included a 4-minute video highlighting all of the recreational and business opportunities available in Indian River County.
In addition to the private two-day shooting event, there will also be a golf tournament held at Sandridge Golf Course benefitting Honored American Veterans Afield, an organization dedicated to helping disabled combat veterans, an online press release said.
The golf tournament will be open to the public, but slots are expected to be filled quickly, Mr. Zito said.
For more information about the Indian River County shooting range, call (772) 581-4944 or visit www.goshootingirc.com.