New Liberty Mountain Gun Club Opens
In response to what Liberty University officials call a combination of student interest, a budding athletic opportunity and a commitment to the Second Amendment, the university has opened the Liberty Mountain Gun Club.
The journey began roughly one year ago when the university offered a course to students looking to acquire a concealed carry permit, allowing the school to recognize the expanding demographic of Liberty students with an interest in firearms safety and sport. Planning Coordinator Brad Butler noted that the range used by the Liberty University Police Department for around 35 years was found to be inadequate for the newfound demand.
“With the increased number of students taking this class, we realized that the existing range was really ill-suited for the class and students who wanted to participate,” Butler said. “We’ve used it very effectively, but it was time to grow into something big and modern for the students.”
While the venue is still partially under construction, the potential benefits for both the shooting team and the school as a whole are recognizable. According to Butler, the Gun Club is now one of the few college ranges in the United States to be located near the campus on Candler’s Mountain Road, and its Olympic-style capabilities will set Liberty’s facility apart from others.
“We think we carved out a really unique niche in that any prospective student who comes to Liberty will be able to count on the university having facilities designed especially for those Olympic shooting sports,” Butler said.
The Gun Club is split up into three entities: shotgun, rifle and pistol/three-gun. The shotgun is the only section to be fully completed thus far, due to weather delaying some progress.
Dave Hartman, head coach of Liberty’s shooting team, said the shotgun range’s state-of-the-art international skeet and trap overlay is what he finds to be most impressive. The bunker trap is outfitted with 15 ISS-standard Laport clay target throwing machines, which feature a computer that controls the timing and release of targets.
“It’s really nice to have for our team to be able to train on such a nice … field (up to international standards),” Hartman said. “There are very few international fields in the country, let alone on college campuses.”
Hartman explained that these capabilities are already an aid to the team, as they offer some of the current team members the proper space and tools to train for the Junior Olympic qualifier in international skeet and bunker trap. Also, Hartman said that he definitely sees the facility as a compelling recruitment tool.
“Both in the recruitment aspect and what we can do for our current crop of students, it is pretty dynamic,” Hartman said. “The ability to get out and train on an Olympic field is priceless, and rather than driving anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to be able to train, all they’ll have to do is come up to our field and set it up.”
Butler attributed the building of the club to President Jerry Falwell’s stance on the Second Amendment and the right for students to carry guns on campus. He contrasted Liberty’s administration to the others across the country.
“Because of political correctness, most college campuses are running away from the shooting sports and running away from giving their students a chance to properly use and enjoy a firearm,” Butler said. “President Falwell is boldly standing up and saying, ‘We’re not going to just say we support the Second Amendment, we’re going to boldly illustrate it by building one of the most beautiful, competitive and safe gun ranges on any college campus.’”
On a similar note, Hartman pointed out his views on the role of a gun in our country, and he praised the school for demonstrating a devotion to the proper use of firearms.
“The firearm is a tool, no different than any other type of tool, and it’s what the human does with it,” Hartman said. “Liberty has had the foresight to build a range to serve its student population that enjoy the shooting sports and would like to go practice and become better at their sport.”