At the Hillsdale College Shooting Sports Center, students armed with shotguns can now shoot in the basement of the Acusport Lodge. But instead of bullets, these shotguns fire lasers.
The nearly completed AcuSport Lodge now features an advanced firearms training program called DryFire. With DryFire, students load “blank” shells into their laserequipped weapons, which are synced to a stationary target and computer.
“The system then displays your shot placement as a graphic on an overhead monitor after each shot,” Rangemaster Bart Spieth said. “The DryFire system is nice because shooters use real guns, and competitive shooters can calibrate the system right to their custom fit guns.”
This instantaneous feedback allows shooters to improve without the expenditure of ammunition. Currently, the DryFire system sits in a classroom in the AcuSport Lodge’s basement.
“The new AcuSport Lodge is complete on the upper level, and there is more that will be finished on the lower level at a later date,” Spieth said.
Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said the AcuSport Lodge is roughly 13,000 square feet and will eventually contain a complete classroom for instruction of large classes. The lodge will also contain a gunsmith and gunsafe, so the college can store and work on the firearms at the same place.
“It will cost about $250,000 to finish out the lower level. That money has already been donated,” Péwé said.
The AcuSport Lodge was constructed on about 100 acres of property that the college purchased in 2009. The range also currently features five stand, skeet, and trap shooting, along with a temporary pistol and rifle range. There are several other facilities planned including an Olympic Bunker, a sporting clays course, an archery range, and a combination pistol and rifle range. “The Olympic Bunker project has priority as of now. We are looking to finish it by this coming fall,” Péwé said.
The project is being funded by a halfmilliondollar gift the college received specifically for the Olympic Bunker Trap range. The presence of an Olympic course would potentially attract more donors and competition shooters.
“There are not many Olympic Bunker Trap courses in the Midwest. We’d be one of the few,” Péwé said.
The completion of the course would also give shooters the ability to perfect their skills within every discipline of shotgun.
In addition to the Olympic bunker, the college also plans to create a sporting clays course. “It’s like golf, but with shotguns,” Péwé said
In sporting clays, contestants use golf carts to travel to different stations where target clays are shot at a variety of trajectories and distances. The sport is meant to simulate the engagement of live, unpredictable game. So far, the college has $175,000 of the required $300,00 to complete the course.
“We don’t want to begin construction on anything until we have the money for that project,” Péwé said.
An archery range is also under construction, which will also double as an airgun range.
“The construction of the archery range will open the door for a club team,” Péwé said. A donor has supplied nearly $100,000 to complete the archery field.
A permanent pistol and rifle range, a 100meter stretch of land walled in by concrete structures, is still pending funding. The cost is about $1.l million.
To raise funds for the maintenance of the range, the college will charge range fees for students who use the facilities. Firearms classes will also have a range fee attached to the overall course cost. In addition to this, the college may attempt to organize leagues within the local area. Shooters would be able to form teams, pay their fees, and then compete against each other throughout the year.