By: Teresa Mull

The British Guardian, a left-leaning newspaper, just ran a headline on its online publication crediting the Second Amendment with America’s Olympic accomplishments.

“Gun rights and gold medals: US shooters sweep the skeet in Tokyo,” the headlines reads.

Athlete Amber English proudly draped herself in the American flag after defeating Italy’s reigning skeet champion for gold in the event. English is also a first lieutenant and “elite solder-athlete” in the US Army, reports the Guardian, who honored her late father, also a former shooting champion, by bringing home the gold for Team USA.

The newspaper goes on to acknowledge the major investment from Hillsdale College, “an ultra-conservative Christian institution in Michigan that accepts no government funding on principle…[that] will invest $15m to become the home of USA Shooting, according to the Wall Street Journal, in a deal that includes competitions and training camps being held at upgraded facilities.”

GPM spotlighted the college and its top-notch shooting facilities, which have expanded since our 2018 article was published (read the full article here).

From the archives:

Hillsdale College’s Shooting Sports Education Center was created to “expose a new generation to shooting sports, encourage older shooters to return to the sport and to bring the ideas of liberty to life.”

In addition to a nationally ranked shotgun team, the Shooting Sports Education Center houses retreats, scholarship competitions, and a series of shooting courses for beginners.

Hillsdale College graduate and former team captain, Joseph Kain ‘16, said the program and coaching staff grew very quickly during his time at Hillsdale. “The venues and shooting facility expanded from three trap fields during my first visit to Hillsdale in 2009 to a world class athletic facility for serious shooting athletes,” Kain said.

In addition to the range’s recreational features, the lodge and education center provides a series of basic and advanced courses in shotgun, pistol, rifle, and archery. Adam Burlew, Shotgun Team Administrator, explained that each class contains a diversity of experience.

“There are students who spend quite a lot of time on the range and others who have never seen a gun before. So, we begin with a foundation of safety before moving to steel targets and having fun with it,” Burlew said.

Upon the completion of an eight-week course at the Shooting Center, students receive a certificate from the NRA’s Home Firearm Safety Course. With an overview of the Constitution and gun history, students are able to articulate the freedoms guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Burlew also encourages his students to discuss current issues like mass shootings and a proper consideration of gun control in America. “In light of recent events in Florida, we hashed out what could have been done differently, who was at fault, and what causes individuals to do things like this. My students dive below party lines and public reactions to discuss topics like gun control and armed citizens.”

“Most importantly,” Kain said, “our college and facility stands as a citadel for promoting the importance of our Second Amendment and awareness of firearms in society.”

The Guardian piece also calls attention to the conservative values many of the U.S. Olympic shooters hold:

Some shooters, notably the six-time Olympian and six-time medallist Kim Rhode, are not shy about using their platform to advocate for gun rights. The 42-year-old is a vocal Donald Trump supporter and lead plaintiff in a case challenging a Californian law on restrictions for ammunition purchases.

“We don’t tell our athletes what to say or believe, obviously, and you’d be surprised how many of our athletes have widely varying views on the political spectrum,” [Matt Suggs, chief executive of USA Shooting], said. “But when it comes to ownership of firearms, because it’s part of what they do, they’re all in lockstep with the second amendment and believing that somebody should have a personal right to own a firearm whether it’s for sport, for protection, for hunting or whatever purpose they desire.”

Teresa Mull ([email protected]) is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons: Vincent Hancock of Team USA wins gold in skeet at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games