Not wanting to disturb hymns, sermons and testimonies, the City Council will not allow the local shooting range to open on two Sundays to accommodate two national shooting competitions.

"We're inconveniencing a whole city going to church," said Councilman William Nelson. "Can you imagine going to church with guns firing off? I don't think it would fly in this city."The Centerville Small Arms Association asked for an exemption to its lease with the city so it could hold two annual weekend tournaments at the range. The lease, which expires at the end of December, bans shooting on the range on Sundays.

Council members were not about to change the 13-year-old rule, however.

"Although I favor the gun range, I won't relent on the Sunday issue," Nelson said.

Other members agreed that Sunday shooting should remain banned, but not necessarily because of church services.

"We've got a small group of people who would be inconvenienced, instead of a whole city who wants to kick back and relax on Sundays," said Councilwoman Francine Luczak.

No other council members spoke on either side of the issue, and all agreed when Mayor Frank Hirschi asked if they wanted to continue the ban on Sunday shooting.

"I think it is a local issue," said Ruland Gill, a member of the shooting association. "We respect their decision."

Starting the two-day tournaments on Friday or ending them on Monday, as the council suggested, simply won't work, Gill said.

"Those are not alternatives."

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Already, competitors spend at least a day traveling, and most members have to take a day off from work. Having the competitions on a weekday would not appeal to many of the competitors, Gill said.

Prohibiting Sunday pistol practice was only one of a number of issues involving the gun range discussed by the council. The range has operated since 1985 on city property in the eastern foothills.

The length of the lease, which the shooting association hoped could run 10 years, was reduced to five years. Eventually, the city plans to either sell or develop the property.

The council will vote on the lease at their Aug. 4 meeting.

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