As more institutions of higher education turn away from shooting sports and the Second Amendment, Hillsdale College, a private university in lower Michigan, is heading in the opposite direction. Springfield Armory recently brought a fresh influx of support to the school’s growing shooting-sports program, providing a collection of firearms to Hillsdale’s competitive pistol teams and the school’s Ladies for Liberty seminars and shooting camps.
Hillsdale College has been known in conservative circles for its stance against federal funding. The entire operating budget of the school is funded by private donations and endowments.
In recent years, private-funding efforts shifted toward the construction of a college-run shooting-sports facility, which eventually became the Anthony Halter Shooting Sports Complex, complete with an Olympic-quality trap and sporting-clays field, rifle and pistol facilities and an on-site clubhouse with classrooms.
“Because we don’t take any federal or state funding, all of the money we’ve put into this shooting complex has been completely privately funded, and all of these gifts have been specifically designated for shooting sports or the shooting-range operations,” said Gena Grant, institutional advancement associate for Hillsdale. “This is all because people who love the shooting sports want to see that grow at Hillsdale College.”
The facility is home to Hillsdale’s award-winning competition-shotgun team, which won six Division III ACUI National Champion-ships in the last eight years. Additionally, students have the opportunity to gain a familiarity with firearms through several courses, including “Introduction to Shooting Sports,” a prerequisite for other firearm classes, as well as eight-week courses on rifle, pistol and shotguns.
“A lot of the student body visits the shooting range and takes advantage of its courses, and there’s equal men and women in those,” said Emily Davis, Hillsdale College public-relations manager. “It’s very much an open and accepted thing here. It’s been neat to see this culture and support for the shooting sports here at Hillsdale.”
Hillsdale’s mission and its support of the Second Amendment attracted the attention of two Springfield Armory executives at the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits: Vice President of Sales Jeremy Rosenberg and Vice President of Marketing Steve Kramer. Both were impressed with the school’s mission and elected to aid Hillsdale and its growing department dedicated to the shooting sports.
“Kramer and Rosenberg came down for a visit and had an all-inclusive campus tour,” Grant said. “And they turned around and donated 50 firearms that would be used in classrooms, as well as for the pistol team.”
Hillsdale continues to raise private funds to expand its shooting-sports facility, giving students more opportunities to learn about firearms.