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More in Letters
Doing all we can
To the Editor:
The Waterford Fish and Game Club was founded in the mid-1940s by four men. Maureen M. Heath, a reporter for the Advertiser Democrat in Norway, wrote an excellent article on the beginnings of the Waterford Fish and Game Club several years ago.
The club has been in existence for over 70 years with a clean accident record and no problems with the neighbors. In 2008, a couple who lives in Waterford made it their goal to shut down the Waterford Fish and Game Club. The couple in question came to the club uninvited and started yelling and hurling epithets at members. They insisted that "Your shooting is ruining our 'expletive' live!"
In September of 2009, I was at a selectmen's meeting at the town office and learned that this couple was gathering signatures to try to force the selectmen to close the club. It was at this meeting that I discovered there were a few problems with the club that the membership was not aware of. I learned that the owner of the Waterford Inn was having trouble booking wedding receptions at the Inn.
Potential clients were concerned that the shooting at the club during an outdoor wedding reception would be a problem. I met with the owner and told her if she could give me a two-week notice, the club would be willing to close down the ranges for the time she needed to host an event.
At that same selectmen's meeting I spoke with a woman who lives on Chadbourne Road. She said that she was awakened at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning by gunfire at the club. When this issue was addressed at the next monthly club meeting, a motion was made and passed to restrict Sunday shooting hours. The hours on Sunday are now from 9 a.m. until one-half hour after sunset.
Weekday shooting is from 8 a.m. until one-half hour after sunset. In addition, the club does not allow police departments to qualify on weekends anymore. Departments are now required to qualify their officers during the week. This has greatly reduced the sound level on weekends when most people are at home. The club has also installed a fence with locked gates at a substantial cost.
Only club members are allowed to use the facilities. Additionally, shooting of full automatic firearms on Sundays is prohibited, unless a suppressor is used. A suppressor will reduce the sound level by 30 decibels (about a factor of 5). As always, the club does not allow any shooting while there is a funeral in progress at the Pulpit Rock Cemetery.
In April of 2010, a lawsuit was brought against the Waterford Fish and Game Club by the same couple who was trying to get the club to shut down. After a year and a half of giving their lawyer detailed listing of construction costs for the past six years, the club membership list and a multitude of other paperwork, they dropped the lawsuit.
But it didn't stop there. Mr. "Lawsuit" would drive by the shooting range while members were shooting and sound his car horn and give anyone there the middle finger. Only after he was brought to court for harassment by a club member did he stop.
In September of 2012, the club hired a contractor from Waterford, James Long (including his sons Eric and Darin), to construct a sound absorbing eyebrow on our rifle range. A club member designed the structure of the eyebrow and James Long and his sons did the research on the sound absorbing material that was used.
Sound measurements were taken by Waterford Selectman Randy Lessard before and after the construction of the eyebrow. Readings were taken at the cemetery, the ball field and McIntire Road. Sound reduction of a 12 gauge shotgun at the cemetery 80 yards away was 12.3 decibels. Sound reduction of a .45 caliber pistol was 15.7 decibels and was 14.2 decibels for a 30.06 rifle.
Readings at McIntire Road, 1.3 miles from the club, dropped 7.5 decibels for a 12 gauge shotgun and 8.2 decibels for the 30.06 rifle. Mr. Lessard could not get any readings from the .45 caliber pistol because of background noise. Background noise was 36 decibels at the time of the reading.
The readings at the Marston house on McIntire Road averaged 38.4 decibels with the 12 gauge shotgun and 38.5 decibels with the 30-06 rifle. Normal conversation is between 60 and 65 decibels. A drop by 5 decibels is clearly noticeable, a drop by 10 decibels is half as loud and a drop by 20 decibels is a quarter as loud.
In the future the club intends to install the same eyebrow construction on our pistol ranges. James Long and his sons have done additional research and have an idea to possibly reduce the sound level on the shotgun skeet range as well.
This is what the Waterford Fish and Game Club has been doing to reduce the sound level at the club and for all our neighbors.
The same couple who withdrew their lawsuit against us is now threatening to sue the Town of Waterford.
This was written and approved by the officers and board of directors of the Waterford Fish and Game Club.
John N. Conti
Waterford Fish and Game Club