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Scouts reach compromise with neighbors; Shotgun and rifle shooting continues at Ten Mile River camps

By Fritz Mayer
July 2, 2014

WHITE LAKE, NY — Another round of letters of complaint about the noise of gunshots at Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camps was read at the Bethel town meeting on June 26. Representatives from the Boy Scouts insisted again that the shooting program is essentially the same as the shooting program that has been in place for 80 years, while members and residents of the Indian Field Hunting and Fishing Club insisted just as strongly that something has changed, and the noise from the firing of shotguns has become unbearable for the past three summers.

Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm and Councilmember Vicky Simpson travelled to the Indian Field community, which is located about a mile from the shooting range. Sturm took with him a decibel meter, albeit one that he said was not of sufficient quality to be used in a court of law. He said he measured a decibel level of 72 from the report of a 20-gauge shotgun, while he said the report of a .22 caliber rifle was essentially inaudible at that location.

Larysa Dyrszka, a pediatrician, said that noise beyond 65 decibels results in observable health impacts. She said, “the World Health Organization has determined that there are not only psychological effects, sleep effects, but also health effects—gastrointestinal, neurological effects—that really should be taken into account.”

Tom Pendleton, the director of the Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camps, said that in an attempt to mitigate the noise the camp has stopped using larger .12 gauge shotguns in the program, and would use only the smaller .20 gauge. He added, “We’re also shooting the smallest load that you can shoot.” He added that the organization is planning to move the shotgun range to another location before next summer, but it was too far into the season to move it this year.

The camp was seeking a noise permit allowing them to shoot rifles and shotguns from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, from 2 to 5 p.m and from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sturm and Simpson suggested a compromise that would have allowed the shotguns to be shot in the afternoons, four days a week, and in the evenings two days a week.

Pendleton responded that without the morning hours, the Scouts would not be able to earn their merit badges because they would not have enough shooting time, but if necessary they would give up shooting the shotguns in the evening. He had earlier suggested that there would be no shooting on Mondays.