HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has pulled the trigger on a new rule aimed at stopping stray bullets from leaving an East Oahu shooting complex. Recent reports of bullets hitting homes led to the change, according to city officials.
Paul Culpepper loves to take aim at the Koko Head rifle range, but shooting at targets more than 100 yards away is now prohibited. The city is trying to prevent bullets from possibly ricocheting off metal targets.
"I like hitting the gongs out there, but if we have to I guess we have to. It's kind of like a compromise. Now all the bullets will stay here," said Culpepper.
"What I am is a competitive shooter and we shoot out to 600 yards, so if I have no place to practice long range, how am I going to stay good at long range?" wondered rifle shooter Darrell Poland.
An area with metal targets in a gulch more than 400 yards away is off-limits after reports of bullets striking three homes in the Queens Gate and Koko Kai neighborhoods during the last year. A woman also told police that a stray bullet pierced the roof of her van at Sandy Beach in May.
"It was a management decision and they are going to be reviewing procedures regarding that area of the shooting range where the metallic targets are," explained Jeanne Ishikawa, deputy director of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation.
"We have never called for it to be shut down. We have always asked for the city to pursue the safety recommendations that it has been receiving for decades now and for the most part has not fulfilled," said Greg Knudsen, chair of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board.
City officials will meet on Monday to discuss long-range plans for the facility.
"They're running tourists up here that are inexperienced, foreign nationals up here, and you have management that are not shooters," said Poland.
"These are just accidents. We don't think anyone is intentionally shooting over the ridge of the crater, but there's enough evidence to verify that bullets have been going over the crater," said Knudsen.
The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board will take up the issue on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Hahaione Elementary School cafeteria.