January 10, 2022
Most readers are familiar with the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), but some only know it for its competitive shooting programs or the sales of surplus firearms and ammunition. What you might not know is that CMP operates one of the nation’s premiere ranges: The CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park.
Situated near Talladega, Alabama, construction of the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park was completed in 2015. It was built on a 500-acre campus and cost $30 million. Today, the range is open to the public with reasonable fees and no membership required.
No matter the discipline, the Park has something for any shooter. Handgunners have access to 15 action-pistol bays and a 50-yard pistol range. There’s a trap field, a skeet field and a 15-station Sporting Clays course. However, many would consider the expansive rifle ranges to be the Park’s main attraction. Known-distance positions are available from 50 to 600 yards, and an impressive unknown-distance area allows everything from close-range rimfire targets to shots on steel targets placed out to the horizon.
Flanked by towering Alabama-pine forests, the rifle ranges stretch toward a mountain backdrop beyond. These ranges are absolutely picturesque and cleverly ornamented with giant steel statues that aim downrange and stand watch. These were made entirely from unrestorable surplus M1 Garands that were welded together into artforms.
Unlike the ranges some would remember from qualifying in the military, there is no pit duty, and no reason to go downrange to change targets. Permanent Kongsberg Target Systems (kongsbergtargets.com) automatically score hits downrange and provide detailed data for shooters on the bench-top displays. The Park is the only civilian range in the U.S. with this target system, which was imported from Norway. This advanced system keeps a match moving quickly and safely.
Before firing can commence, a range safety brief is mandatory, and shooters are required to qualify at shorter ranges before they can progress further. Safety is, of course, paramount at the Park. There are multiple full-time professional range officers on staff at each range who can assist shooters as needed. I found them to be courteous and knowledgeable during my recent visit.
Not only are the shooting grounds impressive, the 13,000-square-foot clubhouse is like no other. The clean and open floorplan features multiple lounge areas and two multimedia classrooms. The facility is also open to hosting corporate events (it has even hosted a wedding), and the pro shop is a must-see.
Yes, CMP firearm sales are available onsite. A variety of rifles are for sale daily, which are pulled from the nearby Anniston Army Depot in Bynum. This is where all CMP guns for sale are inspected and serviced. Be advised: There is always a long line of buyers waiting at the gate to purchase CMP firearms. On the day of my visit, the racks carried a selection of M1 Garands, M1917 Enfields and a few Krag-Jorgensens at reasonable prices. The CMP had ammunition in stock, too.
CMP Talladega is less than a 2-hour drive from Atlanta. Whether it is to compete in one of the Park’s matches, to test your skills or to tour the facility, a visit to CMP is a worthwhile trip. I’d recommend it to any serious shooter. Visit thecmp.org to learn more.
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