Shooting range addresses target controversy

Shooting range addresses target controversy

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - There have been accusations of racism recently at a shooting range in Columbus, so we went to the business for an explanation.

The complaint by someone on social media was that Shooters on Milgen Road was using mostly or only targets depicting an African American teenager.

However, we discovered that is not true. Nicole, a manager at Shooters, showed all nine targets they used, all of the subjects on those being white except for one.

Shooters has gotten a lot of attention after the viral Facebook post was shared more than 76,000 times since being posted on July 13. Most of the complaints have come from people outside of the Chattahoochee Valley.

"We've gotten calls from like I said all over the world," Nicole said. "Some of the people were being polite, they were just trying to find the situation out, once we explained to them how our range was ran, they're very pleasant and say thank you, we've had people who called in and threaten our lives, we had people make posts on different websites saying that the business needs blown out, blown up and needs to be put out of business."

Shooters also tell us they've had death threats and people threatening to protest their business. The manager wanted to squash the rumors, also saying their variety of targets are the same ones police use.

The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, or IALEFI, released a statement on July 15, stating:

First, IALEFI does not print, publish or sell targets. IALEFI does license several target manufacturers to produce targets approved by the Association. The target in question has never been used at any training program conducted by or supported by IALEFI. This target was, however, manufactured by one of the target companies licensed by IALEFI.

Virtually every major target company produces targets depicting whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, males, females, zombies, etc. The world we live in contains both good people and criminals of every race and nationality. IALEFI has, for over ten years, authorized the printing of targets that include a white male, a white female, a black male, and a male who appears to be Hispanic. We have never received any complaints concerning any of these targets until two days ago. The recent complaint was reportedly prompted in part by an alleged exchange of words between a customer at a commercial shooting range and an employee of the range. IALEFI has nothing to do with the shooting range, did not even know of its existence until two days ago, obviously cannot control what is said by the range's customers and employees, and has no way of confirming the truth of what is alleged to have been said that offended the customer.

Regarding the assertion that the target depicts a "black teenager," we are advised that the black male shown in the target was about 24 years old when the photograph was taken, having finished his service in the U.S. Marine Corps two years earlier. He provided his photograph to the target manufacturer without charge, in the interest of promoting more realistic law enforcement training. He is reportedly disappointed that some individuals have misconstrued the purpose for the target.

Regarding the inflammatory assertion that IALEFI is encouraging the shooting of black teenagers, IALEFI has for 35 years been a leader in developing and promoting decision making and judgmental training for law enforcement officers, training them in the legalities and constraints of justifiable use of deadly force, and in situational control and other tactics designed to minimize the instances in which deadly force must, regrettably and unavoidably, be used. 

You can read the entire statement by clicking here.

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