Last year, the WVU rifle team and the Mountaineer Athletic Club launched the WVU Mobile Rifle Range Project. Their goal: purchasing the necessary equipment for a mobile rifle range. The new Bill McKenzie Rifle Range made its official debut earlier this month with a match against the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Bill McKenzie Rifle Range is a mobile, fully functional rifle range with 20 firing points in multiple arenas, including the WVU Coliseum and the WVU Shell Building. More than twice the size of the previous WVU Rifle Range, the mobile range allows for many more spectators.
The range features 20 state-of-the-art 3D electronic targets that have crossfire detection, and 20 bullet catchers and surrounding walls—which create a safe range area for competition in any arena. Large projector screens, provide shot-by-shot coverage for an ideal experience for spectators.
Most importantly, the new Bill McKenzie Mobile Range will not only allow the Mountaineers to host large-scale postseason events, such as the 2019 NCAA Rifle Championships, but also will help the team members simulate national and international championship experiences and enhance the student-athletes’ preparations.
“Bill's gift means a lot to this program … This range will change our match-day experience so much. Each match shot in Morgantown will have the same feel as a large NCAA Championship match,” said Coach Jon Hammond. “We’re no longer limited in space for spectators, and that will help grow our sport in the region. It’s incredibly exciting and definitely a big change for the program overall.”
WVU legend Bill McKenzie is best known for kicking the game-winning field goal against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the Mountaineers’ 17-14 victory in 1975. McKenzie hopes to ensure the WVU rifle team’s future success with his $100,000 donation toward the mobile range project. As thanks for his generous contribution, the team’s new home venue was named after him.
“[Coach Jon Hammond] is a great guy. What he has done with the WVU rifle team is amazing,” McKenzie said. “My family and I are happy to help the program. We’re not very big on the publicity that surrounds the gift, but we decided that it was time. When you’ve won 19 National Championships, it’s amazing to think about how small the current range is; it didn't seem right. For us to be the best rifle team for 19 years and not have the ability to host a championship, it didn't seem right.”
As for the first match at the new range, it was a victory for WVU over Kentucky. WVU secured their fifth straight GARC crown with the win. Coach Hammond was happy that his team did well and is optimistic about the future.
“I was particularly pleased to see the team compete so well in the new range. They enjoyed the new setting and adjusted quickly,” remarked Hammond. “It’s going to be exciting moving forward with this range and providing a good environment for our fans.”