A major part of joining the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) is to learn firearm handling and marksmanship. Currently though, there is no rifle range at Hixson High School in Tennessee, so these cadets will be missing out on a key component of their military training, due to their lack of a place to train with their air-soft rifles.
The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has an enrollment of more than 100 students, which is equal to about 12 percent of the students at Hixson High School, who actively participate in the program. The JROTC program allows students to experience some aspects of being in the military, including teaching the cadets leadership in addition to marksmanship skills. The program also offers students the opportunity to be a part of special teams including drill, color guard, academic, and athletics.
While some of the other schools in the county also lack a dedicated rifle range, they set up targets in their gym or cafeteria, so students can practice. Currently, Hixson High School is the only JROTC program in the area that does not have a rifle team, but they are hoping that will soon change.
“We are the only JROTC school in the county who doesn’t have a rifle team,” said Hixson JROTC instructor Colonel Scott Campbell. “My goal is to secure a shooting range. Our kids like to compete, because that is part of growing and learning about yourself. I want to be part of that competition and so do my kids. We just want to afford them every opportunity we can.”
Hixson High has applied for an NRA grant that would enable them to build a joint-use marksmanship range at the Hixson, TN school. The NRA grant would be used to fund the construction of the facility, which would be used by both the JROTC as well as the school’s archery team. Currently, the school’s archery team uses the cafeteria for target practice. The new facility would be available to be reserved for use by the public. The Hixson grant application received the approval of the Hixson county school board in January. They requested $675,000 for a proposed 5,750-square-foot facility.
“It’s a pretty lofty goal, to be honest,” remarked Campbell.
School officials in Hixson, Tennessee support the program and think it is a great experience for the students in their community. When petitioning for the grant for their high school, officials indicated “Many of our cadets join JROTC to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Learning through marksmanship offers critical safety aspects needed for weapons awareness, competitions, awards and contests, a pathway into other courses, potential scholarship opportunities and much more we want to explore.”
Though a grant application of this type is not typical for the NRA, the school is hopeful to get the grant to fund the equipment and the start-up costs needed to create a rifle team for their JROTC program. They are all looking forward to beginning construction on a marksmanship range for this program and are excited to begin preparing them for competition.
~ Firearm Daily