Four years after the demolition of the University ROTC’s
rifle range, most ROTC faculty and cadets have learned to get along
without it.

The indoor rifle range was torn down along with the North
University Building in late 2000 to make room for construction of
the Life Sciences Institute building, which opened last fall. The
ROTC has not since requested that the University build a new
shooting facility.

Lt. Col. Steven Rienstra, chair of the Army Officer Education
Program, said he would appreciate a new rifle range but does not
consider it vital to the program.

“While it would certainly be preferential for us to have a
firing range, it really hasn’t gotten to the point where it
would be cost-effective to build one,” Rienstra said.

The ROTC currently sends cadets to a firing range at Fort Custer
in Battle Creek for weapons training.

The majority of today’s ROTC class have not participated
in the program long enough to remember the facility. Indeed, many
young cadets said they are unaware that a rifle range ever existed
on campus.

Cadet Rudolph Becker, an LSA sophomore, who didn’t know
about the range, added that he did not consider weapons training a
vital component of the ROTC curriculum.

“ROTC isn’t all about shooting guns,” Becker
said. “It’s more about leadership, not really about
becoming a marksman.”

ROTC cadet Katherine Banas expressed similar sentiments.

“That’s not really one of my top concerns,”
said Banas, an LSA sophomore. “As of right now, it’s
not really been a problem for me.”

Banas, who also said she did not know that a rifle range had
previously existed, said she would rather see the University spend
money on renovation of North Hall — the ROTC’s
instruction facility damaged during the construction of the LSI

“Right now I’m more concerned with the fact that the
building we have our classes in, North Hall, is partially
condemned. That’s more important to me than a firing
range,” Banas said.

Among some older cadets, however, the lack of a rifle range
remains a salient issue.

“I would say around half of the upperclassmen see a need
for it,” said Engineering senior and ROTC cadet Nicholas

Regarding the younger cadets who are less concerned with weapons
training, Mcintee predicted that their priorities would change with

“I think that by the time they’re seniors, they will
look back and say, “I wish I had that experience.’

Rienstra also stressed that weapons training should be a
priority for all soldiers. He cited former Iraq prisoner of war
Pfc. Jessica Lynch, whose support unit was unable to effectively
defend itself in an ambush, as an example of the importance of
weapons training for even non-combat units.

“It is a point of considerable concern for the Army that
everyone gets significantly more weapons training,” Rienstra

Maj. James Blick, a recruiting operations officer for Central
Michigan’s ROTC program — which currently has an
on-campus rifle range — also said he considers weapons
training a vital part of the ROTC curriculum.

“I guess I would be upset if they did that to us,”
Blick said, referring to having a firing range down.

“All soldiers need to be able to protect themselves and
their fellow soldiers. That’s why every soldier has to be
proficient with their weapon,” he said.

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