It’s not every day an Olympian comes to campus, but on Saturday, Hillsdale College welcomed six of them.
On Sept. 28, members of USA Shooting’s National Team and friends of Hillsdale College gathered at the John Anthony Halter Shooting Sports Education Center to launch Hillsdale College and USA Shooting’s newly formed partnership.
The United States Olympic Committee chartered USA Shooting in 1995 to promote shooting sports, train Olympic shooters, and oversee international shooting in the United States.
In partnering with USA Shooting, the college’s John Anthony Halter Shooting Sports Education Center has been designated a Certified Eastern Regional Training and Competition Center for USA Shooting’s National Team and shooting sports development programs.
Rich Péwé, chief administrative officer, said the partnership is a natural fit because Hillsdale College and USA Shooting share similar values. Both are keen on promoting shooting sports and the principles it enforces.
“We’re excited to do something with USA Shooting because we believe shooting develops good character: it requires ethics and learning good habits,” Péwé said. “We want people to be responsible and rise to self government. USA Shooting promotes character and sport through shooting sports.”
USA Shooting’s Olympic Shooting Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, sees about 100,000 visitors per year. Péwé anticipates that, through the partnership, USA visitors will learn of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis publication and online courses. Meanwhile, Hillsdale College’s dorms and shuttle services make its John Anthony Halter Shooting Sports Education Center an ideal location for USA Shooting to hold competitions, camps, and clinics.
Six Olympic athletes, including Vincent Hancock and Kim Rhode, along with USA Shooting staff members Robert Gambardella, interim chief executive officer; Chad Whittenburg, chairman of the board; Stacy Weiland, director of licensing and strategic partnerships; and Sharee Waldron, shotgun team manager visited Hillsdale Saturday to launch the partnership.
They joined college guests at the Halter Shooting Sports Education Center to shoot sporting clays, skeet, and bunker trap, and later had dinner at President Arnn’s residence, Broadlawn. Hats, athletic tops, and other merchandise bearing the Hillsdale College and USA Shooting logos were displayed in the range’s AcuSport Lodge.
Waldron, a former Olympic shooter, coordinates athletes’ schedules, including competitions and appearances. She travels with the team to ensure athletes have access to nutrition, physical therapy, and other resources that enable them to maintain peak performance.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to have a relationship with Hillsdale,” Waldron said. “It’s a win-win opportunity to have this kind of range on the East Coast in proximity to a major airport. This is a beautiful range, and we want to expand.”
According to Péwé, the John Athony Halter Shooting Sports Education Center is one of the nicest comprehensive ranges in the nation. But Hillsdale College plans to add four combination bunker trap and skeet fields to allow the range to host bigger competitions, such as the World Shooting Grand Prix and national Olympic events.
The college also intends to construct a building that will contain indoor pistol, rifle, and air gun and archery ranges to expand opportunities for high school and college students.
Bart Spieth has been Hillsdale College’s shooting sports coordinator since 2009 and helped guide the establishment of its current facilities. He recalled that all the range had to offer when he started was one trap field and a porta-potty, and said he now looks forward to enhancing its offerings by building facilities for more specialized shooting sports.
“I’ve been blessed to be in shooting sports for a long time and understand how they work together,” he said.
Shotgun Team Captain Lucas Pieraccini said the organizational skills and mental discipline he developed from shooting sports are applicable to many facets of life, and anticipates the planned expansions will enable more students to learn from shooting sports.
“I sincerely hope that the partnership does well, because it will be great for students,” he said.