The Virgil Ellis Rifle and Pistol Range is located in Ajo Regional Park approximately 6-1/2 miles north of Ajo off of Ajo Well 1 Road. There no range staff at this range, shooters are responsible for their own safety and that of others and must communicate with other shooters before going down range to check or set up or retrieve targets. All shooting must be at targets only and must be into the impact berm.
All shooters’ range rules must be followed.
The Virgil Ellis Shooting Range in Ajo received a make-over in 2005 with berm renovations, ramada renovations, and signage and restroom improvements. The Ajo range became known as the Virgil Ellis Range in 2005.
In the early 1930s an Army camp was established north of Ajo about six miles. A shooting range was built by the military to support training exercises for the camp. The camp was soon abandoned, and then used as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The shooting range was used by the CCC and the community of Ajo. Later on the range was used by the Air Force, and then abandoned once again, except the shooters of Ajo kept shooting at the site.
In the 1960s Pima County acquired property near the original range site and developed a shooting range using county and community labor to construct a two-hundred yard berm, covered ramada and restrooms. Since its construction the range has been used by Ajo shooters and several law enforcement agencies.
The shooting range has been used and abused for years. Illegal off-highway vehicle traffic wore deep ruts into the berm; the site has been vandalized and has even been used as a driving range. It has suffered from illegal dumping and other thoughtless acts.
An Ajo man, who enjoyed silhouette shooting and hunting, a volunteer Arizona Hunter Education Instructor who taught most of Ajo’s youth on the safe and responsible use of firearms for over thirty years took the range under his watchful eye and built steel shooting tables and silhouettes for the range, yard markers and voluntarily visited to shoot with his friends and three boys and cleaned and cared raised three sons in the community served as an example to others.
Today, the Virgil Ellis Shooting Range provides shooting opportunities to shooters who enjoy their ability to hone their marksmanship skill. The Ajo Lions Club provides several turkey shoot competitions for area shooters.
Ajo shooters enjoy the relaxed informal atmosphere and an opportunity to tune up their hunting rifles and practice their pistol skills. In the southwest Arizona setting, shooters have twelve shooting positions out to 200 yards.
Since the range is an informal shooting range, shooters must cooperate and work with other shooters to commence and cease fire to go down range. For years informal ranges throughout Arizona have functioned very well in an unsupervised atmosphere. Shooters respect others and can easily come to agreement on shooting periods and down range safety protocols.