Arizona Daily Wildcat Online
Front Page
· Basketball
· Columnists
Live Culture
Police Beat
Online Crossword
Photo Spreads
Special Sections
The Wildcat
Letter to the Editor
Wildcat staff
Job Openings
Advertising Info
Student Media
Arizona Student Media info
UATV - student TV
KAMP - student radio
The Desert Yearbook
Daily Wildcat staff alumni

Bear down on the range

DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Jeffery McCollum, a retired Army staff sergeant and supply technician for the UA Army ROTC, demonstrates a military position used during firing practice in the firing range at Bear Down Gym. The range, which is now used only for ROTC training purposes and was once part of the set of "Death Wish," is said to violate the UA's no weapons policy.
By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Print this

For more than a decade, the UA has been a "weapons-free" campus.

But buried beneath Bear Down Gym are the signs of a tradition that has gone on at the UA for far longer.

Beneath the students playing basketball and lifting weights is a shooting range built in 1926, the year the UA signed a contract with ROTC as part of its land grant mission.

Even with its long history, the range remains somewhat of a mystery to most students. Of the few who seem to know about it, some seem uncomfortable with having a shooting range on campus.

"It seems strange to have guns on such a centered area of campus," said Maya Asher, a creative writing freshman.

Asher said she understood why there were exceptions to the "no weapons" on campus policy, but wasn't sure if the shooting range should be one.

"I can understand an officer having a gun, but when someone who's just training with one on campus, it makes me uncomfortable," she said.

The land grant that brought the shooting range to the university required that military training be conducted at the school. As a land grant college, the school had to either have a range or have access to a range.

The range, a small unthreatening room, was built as part of a contract with the Army ROTC, said Maj. Stewart Slatton, public affairs officer for the Army ROTC. It has been an important, if often unnoticed, element of the program ever since.

The range remains empty and silent most of the time, Slatton said. Only freshman and sophomore members of the Army ROTC use the range in Bear Down.

Buried beneath a building at the heart of campus is a 7

-year-old shooting range that remains a mystery to most students.


Students who can't actually visit the range can see movies to satisfy their curiosity. Slatton said the range in Bear Down has been used in several movies, including "Death Wish," the super-violent Charles Bronson classic from1974. Slatton said tables were set up at the shooting range for "Death Wish" to make the range seem larger and less plain; some of those tables and other props from the film still remain.

Slatton said the shooting range is at the very foundation of the UA and is an important part of the school's history.

The Army ROTC teaches its students marksmanship for military science classes at the range in Bear Down, where they learn the basics of handling and shooting a gun.

"We're very limited on the types of weapons and ammunition we use there," Slatton said.

The Army ROTC uses only 22-caliber pistols at the shooting range, which are not commonly used in military practice, Slatton said.

"It's not the typical M-16 that people usually think of in the military," he said.

The guns used in Bear Down never leave the basement and are stored there in a secure location. Slatton said the guns are protected by an electronic security system and are constantly monitored by military personnel.

"The walls where we store the guns are all made of reinforced concrete; it's not like just anyone has access to them," he said.

Jeffery McCollum, a retired Army staff sergeant and supply technician for the UA Army ROTC, holds the keys to the shooting range, which is right next to his office in Bear Down Gym. He's been watching over the range for four years now.

McCollum said the range is used about twice per month, and only military personnel have access to it.

Even though the range belongs to the Army ROTC, the Marine, Navy and Air Force branches of ROTC also use it.

Slatton said other groups have been allowed inside, including, on one occasion, a Boy Scout troop.

Alexis Hernandez, the associate dean of students, said even though the UA campus has been a weapons-free zone since at least 1983, there are a few exceptions to the rule, including guns used by ROTC and explosives used in mines.

Hernandez said he doesn't think the shooting range violates the no-firearms policy.

"They're two different things," he said. "The shooting range is not a public firing range. That's different from someone trying to bring a gun on campus for say, self-protection."

Catharyn Crane, a senior majoring in psychology and Spanish, was surprised to learn of the shooting range, especially because she had just come from Bear Down Gym.

"I don't like the idea of having guns anywhere, let alone on campus," she said.

Crane said she didn't have any personal safety issues with the shooting range since it's controlled by military personnel.

Sgt. Eugene Mejia, UAPD spokesman, said the ROTC shooting range, or a police officer carrying a gun, differs from a random student being allowed to carry a gun.

"With a student walking into a classroom with a gun, you don't know whether they're trained or what their purpose is," he said. "They're someone with a weapon and no official status."

Mejia said he's not aware of any problems or issues that have been brought on by the shooting range.

Hernandez said the UA's gun policy is meant to deal with the safety of the community. He said the guns on the shooting range aren't a safety issue since they remain on the shooting range and are not transported around campus.

Write a Letter to the Editor
Bear down on the range
Under Covers: Kiss and tell
Restaurant and Bar guide
Search for:
advanced search Archives

Webmaster -
© Copyright 2003 - The Arizona Daily Wildcat - Arizona Student Media