Tucson Oddity: Tower, canopy part of ex-gun range

2011-09-12T00:00:00Z 2014-09-01T17:13:32Z Tucson Oddity: Tower, canopy part of ex-gun rangeDale Quinn Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 12, 2011 12:00 am  • 

On the west side of Tucson, just south of the Silverbell Golf Course, an abandoned, yellow-hued tower sits in a pit across from a lattice-covered canopy.

The sun-drenched property, between North Silverbell Road and the Santa Cruz River, is owned by the city, judging from signs that warn trespassers to stay away.

What exactly went on inside the pit, though, is no longer apparent. The structure itself doesn't appear to have been used in years.

But Sgt. Matt Ronstadt, a spokesman for the Tucson Police Department, quickly recalled what went on along the dusty banks of the river.

It was a shooting range for the Police Department's training academy up until the late-1990s, he said. Ronstadt knows this because he trained there in 1995.

The yellowish structure was the control tower, and recruits would fire their guns toward the large dirt berm in the opposite direction. The latticelike canopy held plywood at an angle to help keep the shooting positions in a bit of shade.

Other structures, like classrooms and administrative offices, also sat on the site at one point, he said. The only remaining evidence of those are some asphalt patches in the desert.

A ramada still stands just south of the shooting range.

"Our driving track was elsewhere," Ronstadt said. "But essentially all other police-recruit training took place at this site."

TPD stopped using the location once it built its new training academy on South Wilmot Road across from the state prison complex.

For a while, the Border Patrol used parts of the facility, though Ronstadt didn't know exactly how long that went on.

Contact reporter Dale Quinn at dquinn@azstarnet.com or 573-4197.

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