Hillsdale College and USA Shooting have entered a new part­nership. Amanda Klug | Courtesy

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.