Johnston high school opens indoor shooting range

Posted April 19, 2016
Updated April 20, 2016

— Members of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Smithfield-Selma High School can now practice their marksmanship without having to leave campus.

The JROTC built a 1,200-square-foot, six-lane, indoor shooting range at the school over five months and began using the facility last week. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the National Shooting Sports Foundation donated most of the $10,000 in supplies for the range.

The cadets in the program practice shooting with Daisy pump air rifles, but administrators said the pellets in the guns can be dangerous, so students have to undergo extensive training before they can head to the range.

"There’s a marksmanship safety test they have to take, and they have to get a 100 on it," Commander David Wegman said. "In addition to that, they have to sign a safety pledge, get permission from home and then finally demonstrate on the range that they know how to handle one of these air rifles safely."

Only four JROTC students are certified to use Smithfield-Selma High's shooting range, but Wegman said he hopes to have all of the seniors in the program certified by the fall.

Despite the national debate about gun violence and school shootings, Wegman said the shooting range poses no threat.

"The procedures that we have in place ensure that we do the same thing, the same way, every single time," he said.

JROTC cadet Timothy Jones agreed that safety is a priority on the range.

"You go out there, and you’re relying on others. You have to have the trust in others that they are handling a weapon, that they are not going to harm you, and you’re not going to harm them," Jones said.

[A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the members were part of the Army JROTC program. They are part of the Navy JROTC.]


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  • Tracy Watson Apr 20, 2016
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    Very good!

  • Jim Hinnant Apr 20, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    It's legal. State law lists in the exceptions, "A weapon used solely for educational or school sanctioned ceremonial purposes, or used in a school approved program conducted under the supervision of an adult, whose supervision has been approved by the school authority; "

  • Donald Beckett Apr 20, 2016
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    The ROTC unit at Triple S used a range inside the local National Guard Armory for a number of years. The Guard converted the range over to a locker facility for personal gear so the range was discontinued, so the ROTC group had no where to shoot, and the County Commissioners are anti-gun range/shooting sports. This new facility lets the ROTC return to shooting, and teaching firearms safety which is very important.

  • Sean Creasy Apr 20, 2016
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    Back when I lived in the mountains and went to high school there for a couple of years hunter safety was part of the curriculum in Phys Ed. Part of that class was to shoot a 12 Ga. shotgun at clay targets pass the gun safety portion of that class. Why this isn't part of the state-wide educational curriculum is beyond me..

  • Dan Wilder Apr 20, 2016
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    My High School here in NC had a 8 lane indoor firing range. we fired 40X .22 Target rifles. I was on the School ROTC Marksmanship team and competed with other schools all over the surrounding states. Naturally I see no problems with this, in fact encourage having ranges in high schools and colleges. The ROTC dept. Also had an Arms room where we kept over a hundred M-1 Garand's and Carbines. These were for Drill and Ceremonies and the firing pins were removed and locked in the safe.

  • Betsy Sparks Apr 20, 2016
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    @BetsyRiggins, the criteria for participating in JROTC are extremely strict. The focus is on developing character and discipline, and the students are held to high expectations. They are being taught by experienced military personnel. These are the kind of programs that need to be encouraged and expanded - programs that teach safe, responsible gun usage.

  • Steve Faulkner Apr 20, 2016
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    Is there an exemption in the law against any weapons on campus for ROTC programs? If not, then this is illegal.

  • Christian Knott Apr 20, 2016
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    Everyone in America should obviously be born with a gun in one hand and a bible in the other.

  • Jim Hinnant Apr 20, 2016
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    These are not firearms, but there is still some potential danger. I'm glad they're emphasizing safety. Sounds like a great program, and I hope they expand it and other schools follow this example.

  • Bob Owens Apr 19, 2016
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    Firing ranges were once very common in schools and on school property. They're becoming so again, as shotgun sports (trap, skeet) are the fastest-growing high school sports in the nation.

    Parents of students in such programs notice that the discipline and concentration required to excel at any form of competition shooting typically translates into higher grades.

    College scholarships are awarded around the country for talented shooters, and unlike every other sport, the risk of injury is incredibly low.