NC High School Debuts Shooting Range — Inside The School

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Despite the national debate about gun control and deadly shootings at schools, this high school insists a shooting range feet from its students is not a safety threat.

Smithfield Selma High School

Students at North Carolina's Smithfield-Selma High School can now practice on the shooting range without having to leave school.

The Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program built a 1,200-square-foot, indoor shooting range and members have started using the Smithfield facility since last week. The North Carolina Wildlife Reserve and the National Shooting Sports Foundation donated almost $10,000 for supplies in the range.

The cadets are required to use Daisy pump rifle, but because they can be quite dangerous, students have to successfully fulfill requirements before they can use them. There is a marksman safety test and the students have to score full marks in it. In addition, they have to sign a student safety pledge, get permission to practice from their families and demonstrate on the range how to safely use the air rifles.

Commander David Wegman of the JROTC is not concerned about the range posing a safety threat, despite the national debate over school shootings.

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

Read More: This Academic Year, Kids Brought More Than 185 Guns To School

Indoor school ranges were commonplace only a few decades ago and many states conducted high school level sporting events for shooting teams. Yet later, as incidences of gun violence in school became rampant, indoor shooting ranges at schools were banned.

Urban Middle School at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is another school that had a shooting range in the basement, something that raised many parents' eyebrows before it shuttered in 2011 — over lead, not gun, concerns.

Although contemporary schools with indoor shooting ranges are hard to come by, military and national gun advocates insists it has been common for decades for schools to have rifle ranges.

A few years ago, Pennsylvania's Plum Borough District Board, east of Pittsburgh, allowed an Air Force Junior ROTC air-rifle club to use its high school rifle range to practice their marksmanship.

Paul Helmke, president of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, stated shooting ranges in schools have dwindled since World War II, but now interest in joining the Army after the Iraq war is making shooting sports more prevalent.

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