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FBI agrees to fund new firing range and training center in Hall County
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The FBI has agreed to pay up to $1.7 million for a new firing range and training facility in Hall County that it will use in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office.

The federal law enforcement agency had been conducting training and officer qualifying out of its Atlanta field office at the East Point Police Department for about the last 30 years.

But, according to Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch, problems with that range have emerged.

This prompted the FBI to approach Hall County about using its facilities.

But the Sheriff's Office has its own problems.

Couch said the shooting target system, which has broken down some 200 times in the 10 years since the training center opened, is antiquated and needs replacing.

The FBI has offered funding to build a new complex to serve its needs and those of the Sheriff’s Office.

“So we’re looking forward to building a new training center adjacent to the one we have now,” Couch said.

The firearms and training complex on Allen Creek Road in Gainesville provides continuing education for officers, from physical fitness training to firearms instruction.

Officers are required to complete a minimum of 20 training hours annually, but the Hall County Sheriff's Office requires its officers to finish at least 40 training hours each year.

The current facility is about 5,000 square feet, Couch said, and the new center will be double in size and include a 30-lane covered firing range, a 20-lane range and additional classrooms.

A sniper course is also planned.

The Sheriff’s Office is conducting more of its training in-house at lower costs, but the “state of disrepair” at the facility threatens this initiative, Couch said.

However, the current facility will remain in use for its obstacle course and fitness gym when the new center opens.

Couch said he hopes construction on the new training complex would be complete in about a year.

The FBI will have access to facility for a minimum of 80 days a year under the agreement.