The Indian Hill Shooting Ranges are currently located in Camp Dennison on State Route 126 overlooking the Little Miami River. There is a Police Range and a range for members of the Indian Hill Gun Club. But there was an earlier range in the Village.
After Indian Hill’s population grew in the 20th century, the main problems were (according to one retired Ranger) “chicken thieves, horse thieves, and bootlegging.” At the urging of the Rangers’ Board of Trustees all Village policemen became superior marksmen. They practiced at a small two-point range behind the original Ranger station – the old Swing Line’s Ramona depot at Drake and Shawnee Run. But, for more extensive training they went to the range in Redbird Hollow.
The Rangers entered Redbird Hollow from lower Given Road, crossing the creek on a rustic swinging bridge, and following the rail bed to a small lodge. They used a 25-yard range along the banks of the creek and a 50-yard range parallel to the road. As they improved their skills, they won many trophies and recognition in local and national competitions. Today, all that remains of the old Ranger lodge in the Hollow is a remnant of the stone fireplace.
In 1958 Redbird Hollow Range was considered dangerous to passersby on trails, and Indian Hill (with the help of Senator Robert Taft) purchased from the federal government 31 acres which had been used as a Civil War post at Camp Dennison. The grounds had an existing National Guard range, and a second range was laid out.
Forty-five organizations other than the Village Rangers use the Indian Hill Police Range, with the Rangemaster overseeing scheduling and maintenance. Open every day except Sunday, the Police Range is currently reserved on Mondays for the Rangers, but groups on other days include the Hamilton County Police Association and the Secret Service. Regular target practice is mandatory for all policemen; but many officers shoot at additional times to improve their skills.
Adjacent to the Police Range is the civilian range on a lower level, (called “the pit”), where at one time the Pennsylvania Railroad quarried gravel for their railroad beds. Before the range was acquired by the Village in 1958, it was called Camp Ross by members of the National Guard who practiced there. Some say that locally made cannons were proof fired there, deliberately overloaded to ensure they would not explode. Now x-rays of cannons make this process unnecessary.
The Junior Rifle Club used the civilian range during the years 1962-1983. As many as 100 Village youths (ages of 12-18) trained, practiced, and competed under the watchful eye of the former Rangemaster, who also accompanied them to competitions in Ohio and nearby states.
After one Ohio competition where the Indian Hill Junior Rifle Club placed second, their instructor challenged the youths with “second place is the first loser.” This inspired them to win first place trophies in the state for all three positions: indoor, outdoor standing, and outdoor prone, for five straight years. The red-jacketed Juniors also competed in national matches at Camp Perry, near Lake Erie.
The Junior Rifle Club no longer exists, but the lower range is now used by the Indian Hill Gun Club. Membership entitles a family to use the range on weekends, and participate in the Tuesday/Thursday evening shotgun shoot.
Today’s Range Supervisor is avid on the subject of safety. He or his assistant is on site whenever the range is open, and informal instruction is offered. All youths must be accompanied by a parent; gun safety is enforced, earplugs and eye protection are worn, and buzzers and flashing lights signal cease-fire conditions.
There are two areas at the lower range whose facilities are mutually exclusive. The stationery targets are for pistol and rifle use, and they offer the opportunity to practice at distances between 25 feet and 100 yards. The more popular shotgun facility has moving targets and includes skeet, trap, and sporting clays.
According to the accomplished marksmen (and women) who belong to the Indian Hill Gun Club, “shooting is a perishable skill” that takes many hours of practice. Though some members use the range to hone their hunting marksmanship, many just shoot for pleasure.
For information about the Gun Club and Shooting Range call (513) 561-6500 or visit https://ihill.org/recreation/shooting-club/.