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Ann Arbor’s Outdoor Range

By Alderman Arthur D. Moore

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This is the remarkable story of a remarkable outdoor pistol range.  The Ann Arbor Police Department’s splendid outdoor range – one of the best in the country – is a tribute to a fine police department; an example of complete community cooperation; and a monument to the foresight, planning ability, and stubborn “sticktoitiveness” of the ex-carpenter who is now Lt. Casper Enkemann.
Before getting on with the story, let me say why Lt. Enkemann is not the author of it.  He is not being allowed to author it for the simple reason that he would not give proper credit to himself.  Why, then, is an Alderman writing it?  Well, that is a story in itself.  It can be told in brief.  For over 26 years, I have lived in this university town, teaching electrical engineering.  I have long had an active interest in police work, and the Ann Arbor Police Department has long been one of my “points of call.”  That unofficial interest suddenly reached an active and real peak a couple of years ago when, upon being elected to the Common Council, I was made chairman of the Council’s Fire and Police Committee.  In that capacity, I have been in the department hundreds of times in the last two years—and have had the incidental privilege of watching the Outdoor Range go through all its phases, from idea to accomplishment.

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The department has had a good indoor range for four years, and it has had access to outdoor shooting facilities.  But it was recognized that the peak development of good shooting by a whole department hinged on having and using its own outdoor range.  Early in 1939, Sgt. Enkemann was encouraged to go ahead with his ideas.  He had the backing and encouragement of Chief Norman A. Cook and of the Police Commission; and he had the active interest and support of his fellow officers.

If “Enky” had cared to take on a load of discouragement and prove to himself that the job could not be done, he had the figures available.  One city, not far away, had built a 10-target range for $13,000.00.  Another city, for $18,000.00 of the city’s money, had put up a 60-target range.  Another Michigan city, right now, has a 10-target range, not yet complete because the $7,000.00 appropriation is not sufficient.  In spite of the fine support given to its police department by the City of Ann Arbor, “Enky” knew that the Council could not be asked to find several thousand dollars rattling around in the budget, waiting to be poured into an outdoor range.  However, he was not thinking along such lines, not even when he asked City Engineer George Sandenburgh to make an unofficial estimate of the cost.  The estimate was $15,000.00

Sgt. Enkemann and his associates in the fine art of persuasion had other ideas.  He proposed to build one of the finest outdoor ranges in the country – and it was done.  If you will kindly adjust your spectacles and hang onto the arms of your chair, you will be prepared to learn about the original proposed cash outlay.  Are your ready?  Well, then, $600.00.  Of course, it turned out that this was not enough.  Before we got through with it, the Council had to appropriate a total of $900.00.  The extra $300.00 was needed because it was not found feasible to tap a certain main to get a low-cost water supply.

City Engineer Sandenburgh helped Sgt. Enkemann to work out the size and areas needed for all of the facilities that should go with a 25-target range.  Then came the hunt for a location.  The location was found in a beautiful stretch of land outside of town and near the city limits, on the Huron River Drive.  It is near one of the pumping stations and one of the city’s wells is located on it.  The Water Department donated the area without charge.  Harry Caswell, Manager, and the Water Commissioners saw to that.  You begin to see how an estimated cost of $15,000.00 can be whittled to a cash outlay of $900.00.  The word “cooperation” appeared in the opening paragraph of this story.  The full realization of the meaning of that word will appear and re-appear as we proceed.

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When you visit our range – as many of you will – you will drive out North Main (and don’t forget Main Street as part of it is built into the range) turn left on the lovely Huron River Drive and proceed for about 1.3 miles.  Turn left again and you are in a sloping, grassy area that accommodates 300 cars.  You now approach the rear of the range, which is 150 feet wide and about 250 feet long, and as level as a tennis court.  That flagpole is made of pipe donated by the Stewart Plumbing Company and the Nelson Plumbing Company – with the telescoping pieces welded to each other (at no charge) by the Water Department.  Its concrete base is a nice job.  Why shouldn’t it be?  “Enky” doped it out, and he and Officer Herbert Kapp built the form.  The flag was a gift from the American Legion of Ann Arbor Post.

Enter the rear door of the 20 by 20 office building and remember that I told you not to forget Main Street.  It is a brick structure.  Those bricks used to pave the business blocks of Main Street.  They had been ripped up and stored in the City yard.  City Engineer Sandenburgh invited the department to come and pick out the best.

Over your head is a roof, the construction materials of which were donated by William Nimke, the local contractor.  The asphalt shingles and finished lumber came from Fingerle Lumber Company at cost.  Sgt. Enkemann (ex-carpenter) and fellow officers put the roof on.

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The L-shaped counter—a very nice piece of work by “Enky” is made of material donated by Gill Lumber Co.  It is used for registration at matches and other usual purposes.  The ceiling, of foot-square Celotex, came from Fingerle Lumber Company – no charge.  The lighting fixtures (neon) were donated by the Michigan Neon Sign Co.  Wiring was donated by a member of the Electrical Union.  Wire and accessories came from Ernst Electric Shop – no charge.  The building wall is two bricks thick.  There’s a window in each of the four sides.  Fred Arnet, dealer in memorials (and now on the Council) contributed the sandstone sills for the windows and the doors, front and rear.

Step through the front door and have a look around.  At the far end of the range where the targets are, you see a very convenient sand bank, rising behind the targets at a very steep angle.  That neat little 10-by-10 brick building at the right hand end of the target row is the control house, whose walls and roof have the same story as already told for the office building.  To insure safety for the target control man, there are only two openings in the brick walls.  One is the door, which faces away from us.  The other is a little window overlooking the targets, and the window is protected with safety glass donated by the Ford Motor Co.  Energy for the electric lights in it, and elsewhere, is furnished by the Water Department.  The outside wiring, and that 40-foot pole, were donated by the Detroit Edison Co.

Have a look at these sidewalks, and see what you can do for $900.00 in cash and $14,100.00 worth [of] brain, brawn, willingness, persuasion and cooperation.  The range has 1,050 feet of 3-foot sidewalks!  You used one walk, from the parking lot to the office.  Here is another from the office to the 50-yard firing line.  There is a walk down the center and a walk at each side of the range.  There are crosswise walks at the 50, the 25, and the 15-yard firing lines; yes, and one more walk, five feet from the targets.  A nice batch of sidewalk, eh?  Well, the aforementioned City Engineer furnished the cement at the then cost to the city – between 46 and 50 cents per sack.  The aforementioned Nimke, contractor, furnished the concrete mixer, without charge.  The Killins Gravel Co. donated all sand and gravel for nothing but a good conscience and the ability to sleep better at night because of good deeds done.  Snyder Brothers handled the excavation and leveling.  Mr. Gene Snyder came out, took a look, threw good sense to the sweet winds and for $100.00 put a steam shovel onto the range for four days and had a bulldozer there for six days.  Can you beat it?  

The two-by-fours for sidewalk forms cost nothing, not when Mr. William Eddy loaned them from the W.P.A.  The labor on the sidewalks cost nothing, not when it was contributed by police on off days, by members of local shooting clubs who were interested, and by certain citizens who had committed misdemeanors, and who preferred sunshine and sweat to spending their days in the Washtenaw County Jail.  Notice the professional finish on those sidewalks?  That is the fine personal touch of Sgt. Enkemann again.  I remember going out there one storm-threatened evening with him, in a police car, when he was checking up on the huge canvas he had borrowed somewhere, checking to see that wind and rain would not damage some of the backbreaking finish work he had done that day.

I should mention the fact that it took 400 sacks of cement for the sidewalks and the building.  Also, that a then-unemployed bricklayer laid the brick for both buildings for $60.00.  The Police Department members voluntarily furnished the labor.

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The targets and target control apparatus came into existence by virtue of some more cooperation.  On pipe for the controls, Montgomery Ward & Co. was low bidder; and after getting the bid, these people gave a heavy discount when they learned the nature of the enterprise.  For the necessary steel, Muehlig & Lamphear, hardware, figured the bill and then cut it in half; and as further evidence of goodwill, this firm later donated locks for the building doors, and certain other hardware.

The 25 target frames were made of ¼ by ¾ inch steel, 25 inches high and 28 inches wide.  On the back of the steel frame is a piece of sheet steel, bent to form a trough.  Thus, a 28-inch by 28-inch piece of beaverboard slides into the frame for holding the target.  (The targets are Standard American – official throughout the U.S.A.)  The N.Y.A. training center at nearby Cassidy Lake handled the construction work.  They sent a truck to pick up the steel, plans and instructions and later delivered the target frames, complete at no charge.

All targets are arranged to swing together.  When the control man operates his lever, they all swing to face the firing lines; or, from that position, simultaneously swing to edgewise position.  That calls for some rollers.  The Michigan Central Railroad Co. donated the rollers.  

The very adequate water system was put in by the Water Department, along with volunteer help from police officers.  The system was purchased for the police by Harry Caswell, Manager, Water Department through the Nelson Plumbing Co., at cost.  There is a drinking fountain back of the 50-yard line.  There are three outlets placed at various spots for the sprinkler system.  Speaking of sprinkling, two large sprinklers were purchased at cost and one more was donated by the Perfection Sprinkler Co. of Plymouth, Michigan.

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Look at all the grassy area on the range, and then figure out the cost of labor, seed, and so on, to get a good stand of grass on it.  That is, figure what it would cost anyone except the Ann Arbor Police Department.  The finish grading and landscaping was willingly contributed by the aforementioned fresh-air-seeking prisoners.  And the University Golf Course contributed grass seed, fertilizer and use of equipment.  These were very considerable items.  Furthermore, William Slack, employee of the golf course, personally supervised the August planting of the seed.

As to plantings, the City’s Park Department donated 15 evergreen trees, now planted alongside the range; and a Monroe nursery has promised some shrubbery, which will go in around the office building and the main entrance to the range.

The two toilets you see near the range were salvaged from some old tables, donated by the Moose Lodge.

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This range was not built with thought of confining it to police use only.  All along, it was the plan to use it to encourage the citizenry in the proper handling and use of side arms.  A number of the city’s shooting enthusiasts contributed largely of their time and labor in various phases of the job.  In return, a number of matches are being planned for this summer, in which shooters from all over the state may compete.

By this time, you must have convinced yourself that the foregoing facilities are all one could expect to get for a paltry $900.00.  But wait; when a match is on, isn’t it mighty nice to have a public address system?  In the interests of dispatch and safety, isn’t it really a necessity?  All right, then, come to a match on the Ann Arbor Outdoor Range and hear ours work.  It is not only good but we think you won’t find any range that is any better.  In fact, we think this one is the best.  The department’s radio engineer, Carlton Nevins, put it together, after doing a job of persuasion on a number of radio dealers around town.  It is a permanent installation.  Speakers, microphone, and amplifier are detachable, since they might disappear if left unguarded.  They are easily installed when a match is due.

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For the record, we should briefly refer to progress by the calendar.  The project started in 1939.  When winter stopped operations, the rough excavating was done, and the rough building work was completed.  Work proceeded rapidly in the good months of 1940.  To show that this department does not need to be kept under executive pressure much of the best work was done during the weeks when Chief Norman A. Cook was in Washington, successfully taking the special training offered in the F.B.I. Police Training School.  (By the way, Chief Cook sent the department a welcome box from Washington:  It held a couple of gallons of machine gun cartridge cases he had gathered up on the F.B.I. range.  Those cases are still being reloaded and used.)  Chief Cook died in 1941 and since then Chief Sherman Mortenson has sponsored the range.

Results?  The department’s team continues to shoot it out with any other team in this region, and to hold its own very well indeed.  But this department believes in good department shooting, as well as team shooting.  The Ann Arbor Police Department  has the best record of any department of its size, in Michigan.

Not long ago, the Commissioners decided that it was time to create the office of lieutenant in the department.  Sgt. Enkemann became Lt. Enkemann.  When the war came on, the problem of training and supervising auxiliary police arose.  Lt. Enkemann’s abilities were recognized, and he has been placed in charge of this group.

“Enky” is the first to insist that he had a vast amount of help from his fellow officers and from many others; and that without this help the job could never have been done.  That is very true.

But there are a lot of us – including the fellow officers – who would insist that without “Enky,” the job would never have been done.  It takes unbeatable faith and courage to swing a $15,000 project on $900.00 cash.  But it can be done, and it has been done.  You are invited to come to Ann Arbor and see the finest outdoor range in the country.