A public shooting range used widely by Bay Area law enforcement agencies is set to be refurbished next year after the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office received a multi-million dollar donation from two private sources.
Since 1963, the Coyote Point Rifle and Pistol Club has been open to the public and provided a space for law enforcement personnel to practice using their weapons.
“All Bay Area law enforcement agencies can choose to use it. I think we have over 40 agencies — city, county, state and federal agencies,” said San Mateo County Sheriff’s Capt. Mark Duri.
Until 1997, San Mateo County Parks operated the facility before turning it over to the Sheriff’s Office. It’s located next to the Poplar Creek Golf Course, the CuriOdyssey children’s museum and the Coyote Point Recreation Area in San Mateo. The 9-acre site features both an indoor and outdoor shooting range.
Before the facility opened its indoor range in 2017, Duri said, gun enthusiasts would shoot straight into the hill. To make the site more environmentally friendly, steel containment traps were built behind the targets in both the indoor and outdoor range to collect any fragments left from the rounds.
“So, now it is a totally green facility, and we recycle all the lead and brass used,” Duri said.
The outdoor site needs refurbishing.
“Our goal is to make it a better training facility for all the officers to come to,” Duri said. “This is for generations of law enforcement to come.”
Funding for the project came largely from two private donors. The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, a philanthropic organization, donated $4.5 million toward the work. According to the foundation’s website, the nonprofit’s mission is to support projects that work to support the homeless and underprivileged, educational and research programs, public health and energy solutions.
The other donor was John Arrillaga, who gave $3 million toward the project. Arrillaga is a Silicon Valley real estate developer.
Duri, who is also the facility’s rangemaster, said he was not sure if it’s common for the Sheriff’s Office to receive large donations from private interests, but the department is “very fortunate.”
“I think both foundations want to give back to the community,” he said.
The remaining costs were contingent on the county contributing $3.5 million toward the outdoor range improvements, according to a staff report from 2018.
Duri said it is important for all law enforcement officers to practice using their weapons and fulfill the state requirement that training occur a minimum of two times a year.
“A lot of what we do is a perishable skill,” he said.
With the upgrades to the facility, the Sheriff’s Office will be adding a training ammunition combat house, which can be used to stimulate urban environments such as a mall, jail cell or other space.
“As training evolves, we always try and stay on the cutting edge,” Duri said.
The project is expected to be finished in 2020.