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After three years of renovation work, the welcome sound of gunfire returned late last month to the shooting range at Hancock College’s Public Safety Training Complex.

The range, located at the school’s Lompoc Valley campus, had been closed since the 2014 fall semester after the school and the Division of the State Architect determined that changes needed to be made to the design of the materials that held up the facility’s bullet absorption components. That work was finally completed this fall, and cadets began using the range again Sept. 28.

“Feedback has been extremely positive,” Susan M. Houghton, the school’s executive director for college advancement, said recently of the new-look facility. “The new baffle system is superior to original design.”

The renovations primarily consisted of replacing the baffling — the components used to stifle noise — after the original materials began falling apart in 2014, just months after the Public Safety Training Complex initially opened to students in January of that year.

The school worked with the Division of the State Architect to solve the issue, according to school officials, and that work kicked into high gear this year. The redesigned baffles are now in place, along with new ballistic/sound panels.

The new panels are designed to absorb up to 95 percent of sound, according to Houghton.

Ahead of the reopening of the range — which is 42,406 square feet, making it slightly smaller than a football field, not including end zones — Hancock College mailed notices to residents who live near the training complex and, therefore, could be impacted by noise.

The notice contained a letter signed by Kevin Walthers, the school’s superintendent/president.

“The California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) requires that all Basic Course Academy recruits demonstrate shooting competencies during both daylight and nighttime hours,” read a portion of the letter. “It is our hope that we can accomplish this requirement while also ensuring minimal noise impact for our neighbors. We will be monitoring sound decibels at various locations off campus.”

According to Houghton, the school hasn’t received any inquiries or complaints since activity resumed at the range.

“Staff traveled to all neighborhoods around the campus on Oct. 3, the second day of training, and could not hear the activity going on,” she said.

Shooting at the range is scheduled to occur roughly once a week, during both day and night hours. School officials said the schedule for the range will be updated online at

The costs associated with the renovations came from Measure I, a $180 million bond passed by voters in 2006, according to the school.

While the range was closed for the remodel, the student cadets worked on their shooting skills at various locations around Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, according to school officials. These included the U.S. Penitentiary in Lompoc, Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the Lompoc Police Department.

Hancock’s 68-acre Public Safety Training Complex was built using $38 million from Measure I. It was opened to students in January 2014 and celebrated at a public grand opening on July 31, 2014. It primarily serves as a training location for fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services and environmental health and safety students.

For more on the complex, visit

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.