Muzzle pointed in safe direction. Action open and empty. Finger off the trigger.
These are the basic rules of firearm safety that this year’s Constitution Shoot attendants would not have the chance to utilize.
Following a short continental breakfast, a lecture on the U.S. Constitution by Professor of Politics Ronald Pestritto, and a safety briefing by shooting coach Bartley Spieth, approximately 200 guests and students headed for their vehicles and were immediately met with rain, then hail, and then brief clear skies. And then more rain.
All in all, the only shots fired on Sept. 22 were ceremonial, reminders of the most important business to be undertaken that day. One groundbreaking and two ribbon-cuttings were completed, in dedication of the future Shooting Sports Center Clubhouse and the Hal and Jean Glassen Memorial Foundation Skeet Field.
As attendants made their way under umbrellas and into the tent, hail began to patter overhead. Provost David Whalen stepped up to the podium at 4302 Bankers Road, opened by the college in 2008.
“If the heavens are contributing buckshot to this event, does that make us turkeys?” he said.
Next to speak was Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, who recounted his youthful exploits back in Pocahontas, Ark., where he and his friends would drift down the river in the summertime, shooting snakes and turtles on the bank.
“There’s more to firearms than the fun of them, though,” he said. “ [They are] to be used with restraint and the direction of the right.”
But weather curtailed the actual shooting.
Conversations were practically shouted across tables as the second wave of hail intensified to a deafening pound on the roof of the dining tent. By 1:30 p.m., over half of the attendants had gotten into their vehicles and left. But not before Arnn stood up and personally promised a rescheduling for a future date. The most dedicated firearms enthusiasts stayed behind to pledge their support to Hillsdale College and all of its operations.
Besides the Constitution Day events, the range also hosts other programs.This year’s “Ladies for Liberty” procedures went more smoothly than the aforementioned, in any case. A small but formidable group of 15 women (ages 21 and up) from across the U.S. have been receiving Constitution lectures and training in the use of shotguns and pistols, with phase one ending on Sept. 27. The college is looking to expand the program from one date per year to two, in greater observance of the constitutional principles being conveyed.
“Hillsdale is a conservative college, but most students who come here have never fired a gun,” Spieth said. He added that he is concerned that shooting classes always fill up with juniors and seniors within minutes, leaving the younger students out. “We’d like to change all that.”
To close the groundbreaking ceremony, Arnn affirmed the importance of the Second Amendment to the college’s mission.
“People who love firearms are the kind of people who understand and are shaped by the Constitution of the United States.”