The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has a new addition to its military base. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more on the million-dollar firing range and how the facility could be key to keeping the base's doors open.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — With a snip of the ribbon, the newly-built firing range at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station officially opened.
"This is something that's been needed for years," said John Cooper, the vice chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council (NIMAC).
Funded with federal money, the $65 million indoor range took a little more than a year to complete.
Military officials said the 28,000-square-foot facility allows all branches of the military and law enforcement agencies in Western New York to train right in their own backyard year-round.
"We used to drive 30-45 minutes away to use a base that we didn't always have availability for, and now it's much more efficient; we can train more people," said Air Force Staff Sergeant Cody Mckellar.
"This just makes it a lot easier for them to come and to train and not have to worry about the elements when doing so," said Cooper.
Located on the east side of the base, the facility has 21 firing lanes and state-of-the-art equipment, including special lighting to simulate night-time shooting and an air filtering system.
"There's an air change in this building every 90 seconds,” said Brian Adler, a contractor with RB Mac Construction. “So as the guys are shooting their weapons, the air is constantly being moved away from their breathing space."
"The ventilation in this range is much better on us,” he said. “You can't feel the gunpowder anymore."
The base has avoided closing in recent years due to military cutbacks, and officials said new facilities, like the firing range are essential to securing its future.
Cooper said, "This facility, being a guard and reserve facility brings the biggest bang for the buck for the federal government in defending our nation."