Johnston high school opens indoor shooting range

Posted April 19, 2016 6:24 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2016 5:02 a.m. EDT

— 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.]