Down in the depths of the Indoor Athletic Building, clouded with steam and filled with people, is the University's rifle range. Over fifty people--members of the Pistol Club, the Rifle Club, the Rifle Team, and the ROTC rifle teams--must repair there for practice. It is an extremely busy place, mostly because only three people can shoot at one time.
Because of the range's diminutive size, no team matches can take place there--one match would, in fact, take up approximately ten hours if it were held in the IAB. Space is so short and demands so heavy that the practice time allotted to members of each team is neither satisfying nor adequate.
Cramped quarters is not the only indictment, however. Because the range has little space to accommodate those waiting their turns, the safety standards are lower than they should be. One person suffered a fatal injury two years ago, attributable in great part to overcrowding. Sources equal inconvenience, if not jeopardy, are excessive heat, a fusty atmosphere, bad lighting, and per sound proofing.
A new rifle range is thus a necessity. One might assume that the University, blessed with so many buildings, could with no trouble make available space large enough to fit the requirements of a new site, an area fifty-five by seventy feet (the dimensions of a ten place range) has proved a great problem. The best answer so far is the basement of the House Squash Courts building, the stucco excrescence surrounded by Kirkland, Lowell, Eliot, and the IAB. There is sufficient room there for a ten or twelve place range, and the concrete walls are strong enough to withstand a 22 bullet.
There are several structural problems, of course. Some means must be devised for either bullet-proofing the wooden ceiling or otherwise making it impossible to shoot the squash players upstairs. One wall must be made bullet-proof as well--either sand, armor-plating or fibreglass will do--and there must be lighting and heating added, too.
The groups which will benefit, however, are willing to put up some of the money required, and the ROTC units probably could be persuaded to do likewise. And members of the University employee team, now using the MIT range, would be willing to work on the heating and lights.
There is another type of problem, however, whose solution depends on the University. The Department of Buildings and Grounds stores garden tools and some spare flagpoles in the Squash Courts basement, and it appears most reluctant to remove them. But the University has an obligation to the fusilers of somewhat larger proportion than this objection: first because riflry is a regular sport, and requires participants to buy twenty dollars worth of athletic participation cards per year; and second, because the University, by contract with the NROTC, is required to supply an adequate rifle range.
The University has already begun investigating the possibilities afforded by various buildings for a rifle range. Perhaps it may turn out that the Squash Courts basement is not a feasible site, but in that case we hope that a good substitute is found. For eventually the National Rifle Association is bound to condemn the present site, and the University might as well find a suitable new location now as later.