If someone joins the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at Hixson High School in Tennessee, they’re going to miss out on a key component of military training: firearm handling and marksmanship. It seems Hixson High is the only high school in Hamilton County that has a JROTC program that lacks a rifle team, mostly because the school does not have a range to allow the cadets to train with air-soft rifles.
Well, the JROTC program wants to change that. It has applied for an NRA grant that would fund the construction of a joint-use marksmanship range at Hixson. The facility would be shared with the school’s archery team.
"We are the only JROTC school in the county who doesn't have a rifle team" Hixson JROTC instructor Col. Scott Campbell told a local newspaper. "My goal is to secure a shooting range."
Funding for such grants is derived from Friends of NRA events. Friends of NRA units host various fundraising dinners throughout the year. Auctions, raffles and other games are part of the evening’s entertainment, and half of the proceeds from the Friends events stay in the state to support firearms freedom. The Tennessee Friends delegates next meet later this month to evaluate all the grant applications that have been received.
Some of the other high schools in the county also lack a dedicated range, but they make do by setting up targets in the gym or other such places.
The Hixson grant application, approved by the school board in January, is for $675,000. The proposal is for a 5,750-square-foot facility.” It's a pretty lofty goal, to be honest,” Campbell said.
In petitioning for the grant, school officials wrote: "Learning through marksmanship offers critical safety aspects needed for weapons awareness, competitions, awards and contests, a pathway into other courses, potential scholarship opportunities and much more we want to explore," the application reads. "Many of our cadets join JROTC to be a part of something bigger than themselves."
At Hixson, approximately 12 percent of the students participate in the JROTC program, which introduces students to some aspects of the military, including teaching the cadets leadership skills.