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The Harvard Pistol Team has been trying for a year to gain readmission to the firing range they formerly used for practices and matches, Dr. James W. Wallace '62, team captain and a graduate student in medicine, said yesterday.
The ten-member team left the range, located beneath the Harvard University Stores building in Arlington, about two years ago after a member expressed concern about the high lead content in the air and asked a University engineer to inspect the building, Wallace said.
Despite improvements in the ventilation system since then, Harvard University Police, who now use and control the range, have not permitted the team to return, he added.
"There hasn't been a formal denial, but we've been repeatedly put off by the police," Wallace said. "It's always been one thing after another," he added.
Saul L. Chafin, chief of University police, said Tuesday he hasn't spoken with any members of the team for "well over a year."
Chafin added that the high lead content, the expense of using the range, and the probable scheduling conflicts make him hesitant to allow the pistol team to use the range.
University police continue to use the range about three nights a week for practice and two weeks a year for firearm training, Chafin said. He added that, although "minor improvements have been made, the lead content is still a problem."
But Louis J. DiBerardinis, the industrial hygienist who led the study of the lead concentrations at the range, said yesterday the lead levels were high, but he added that "On the basis of this, I never would have said the pistol team should leave." He said he didn't know the team used to shoot there.
DiBerardinis said the study recommended hiring an outside contractor to improve the ventilation system. He plans to conduct a follow-up study this spring, now that the lead content is lower, he added.
When he asked Chafin last spring about using the range, Chafin said, "No I'm in a hurry," Wallace said. "Now we're talking with various underlings in an informal way," Wallace added.
The pistol team, 3-11 this year in the Greater Boston Pistol League, had been using the 50-foot range since at least 1967 but now has to compete without practicing, Wallace said.
"Shooting is an old-fashioned Ivy League sport," Wallace said. "They used to give out varsity letters for this," he added.
Competitions consist of three rounds of rapid-fire shooting at targets, Wallace said, adding that most teams competing in the league are community gun clubs.
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