The first phase of a sprawling shooting range spread across nearly 600 acres a few miles from Liberty University’s main campus now is open to students and soon will be available to the public.
“We’ve been hearing for a long time that students want a place like this to shoot at,” said Brad Butler, planning coordinator in Liberty’s Planning and Construction Department.
Officially, the shooting range, which opened to Liberty students last week, has been named the Liberty Mountain Gun Club. The shooting range is located off Camp Hydaway Road in nearby Campbell County.
Though LU still is working to assess risk management, school officials say the shooting range should be open to the public in a matter of weeks. But for now, LU’s club sport shooting team and students are breaking in the new outdoor gun range. Currently there are pistol, shotgun and rifle ranges. Future plans for the facility include a field house with locker rooms for the shooting team, offices for the Liberty University Police Department, and a classroom for firearm safety training and youth programs. A paintball course and additional pistol and shotgun ranges also are in the future for LU.
“We’re going big,” Butler said.
The total estimated cost of the project is $3.2 million.
LU students can come to the course and check out a gun to use, not dissimilar to a library book.
The shooting range also will be open to law enforcement agencies for training at reduced rates.
Butler said the school also plans to host collegiate shooting contests and other competitions, such as the annual Virginia Commonwealth Games, which moved to LU in the summer of 2016.
Dave Hartman, director of the shooting range and team, was brought on board in early 2017 to help develop the program. Since then he’s been working to build the team up in its inaugural season.
According to the National Rifle Association, more than 300 U.S. colleges have shooting teams, including programs at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech,
Hartman said that Liberty — which allows faculty, staff and students to carry guns on campus if they have a permit and school approval — is a gun-friendly university, which helps with recruiting.