LU proposes new shooting range on campus

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CAMPBELL COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Liberty University is proposing to build a state of the art shooting range on its campus.

The school says the facility would be the first of its kind on a college campus anywhere in the country.

Liberty already owns a wooded piece of property off of Camp Hydaway Road in Campbell County, where it wants to invest up to three million dollars for the range.

Planning Coordinator Brad Butler says it hasn't been hard to see: shooting sports are popular at Liberty University.

"We had a very, very successful gun safety program here that coincided with the President's initiative to allow some students to open carry. We had over 900 students go through this course," said Butler.

Now, the school wants to give those students, and members of the community, a facility where they can practice, but not just any facility.

The proposal is to develop a 490-acre plot of land into a shooting range that can accommodate any type of Olympic shooting sport, but Butler says, it wouldn't just be for students to use.

Butler says police officers could do their training there.

That's something that could be a selling point for Campbell County Supervisor Chair Eric Zehr.

"I know our Sheriff's Department really does need a facility and this couldn't get more convenient if it worked out for that," said Zehr.

Zehr will be meeting with Liberty on Thursday, but he says, he still has questions.

"I want to know such things as where will traffic be going? What will the noise level be at the nearest residence? What will the impact on the entire area be? And how safe will this be made?" said Zehr.

As for noise, Butler says right now, it's hard to tell.

"Once we get the site fully developed and we're able to take readings, accurate readings and not just guess at it, then we'll decide what measures need to take place, if any, and we just don't believe it will be too many occasions where we would have to do that," said Butler.

And as for safety?

"We've gone to great pains to place this in a location where we can use the natural terrain as enhanced backstops so that we're not jeopardizing any of our neighbors with any errant shots," said Butler.

Ultimately, Butler says a facility like this could even act as a recruitment tool to help the University grow.

"Our founder Jerry Falwell Senior always said if it's Christian it should be better, and God has blessed us with the resources where we're actually putting that into action right now," said Butler.

Supervisors will be making a decision on the proposal at their next meeting on January 3rd and, if approved, Liberty hopes to have the whole facility constructed by the beginning of the fall semester in 2017.