GSU awaits green light for Shooting Sports Center

Jennifer Curington

Georgia Southern University administrators will go before the Board of Regents in August for approval to build an almost $6 million shooting and archery center, and they expect a unanimous “yes.”

If the green light is given, that construction of the Shooting Sports Center will begin this October and be completed by January 2015, Teresa Thompson, vice president of Student Affairs, said.

“[The Board of Regents members] have voiced 16 to zero that they are completely for it,” Thompson said. “We have had tremendous support from the Board of Regents in this because shooting sports is one of the fastest growing sports in America.”

GSU has already received the $5,831,000 required to build the Shooting Sports Center.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) contributed three times more than any other donor with $3.3 million. Approximately  $1.5 million came from GSU in the form of a combination of leftover money from student recreation fees and surplus institutional funds.

DNR is using money from taxes on gun and ammunition sales to contribute its portion, Thompson said.

Originally, the indoor portion of the facility was designed for a total of 16 lanes, eight for archery and eight for gun shooting.

More indoor lanes were necessary for the facility to be used for Olympic events, changing the plans to include 32 indoor lanes, with each sport receiving 16 lanes, which also caused the original price to rise, Thompson said.

The main goal of the center is to allow students opportunities in competitive archery and shooting while also attracting tournaments that would benefit Statesboro’s economy, Thompson said.

Although Statesboro police and local citizens will have access, those factors alone would not have been enough to gain the support of City Councilman John Riggs.

“Of course I never would have voted for it if I couldn’t use it myself, but the main reason is that tournaments [can come to Statesboro],” Riggs said.

Riggs was one of three “yes” votes in a 3-0 vote on April 24 from Statesboro City Council to approve a $500,000 contribution.

“When you have a really nice center like we’re about to have, people will drive and find a way to get there,” Thompson said. “I think it can be an economic boost for the whole entire process while our students are getting this unique opportunity.”

Thompson credits “The Hunger Games,” “Brave” and country singer Miranda Lambert with getting students interested in archery.

Lambert, a spokesperson for the Archery Trade Association, has reached out to GSU to begin talks about a future benefit concert, Thompson said.

“[Miranda Lambert is] real big into archery, and one of the things we hope to do is a benefit concert to promote the shooting sports out there,” Thompson said. She hopes that Lambert can rock the stage in Statesboro as soon as spring 2014.

After receiving approval to begin building from the Board of Regents, the next step is building the Shooting Sports Center, hiring a director for the center and hiring students to teach archery classes.