Organizers with the Burnet 4-H youth rifle team and Texas Youth Shooting Sports Association plan to renovate a 5,500-square-foot church at 2802 S. Water St. in Burnet into an Olympic firearm training facility for youth. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
Young sharpshooters in Burnet County and the surrounding area might be aiming for the Olympics if a training site takes shape in Burnet. The Texas Shooting Sports Association and Burnet 4-H youth rifle team plan to renovate an old church into a practice facility for air rifle and air pistol competitors.
The 5,500-square-foot building is located at 2802 S. Water St.
A training facility would most likely get a lot of use. The sport of competitive shooting is popular with Burnet County youths as shown by the rising number of members on the local 4-H rifle team over the past decade.
“It is probably one of the fastest-growing youth sports in the country,” said Guy Taylor, director of the Texas Shooting Sports Association and manager/coach of the Burnet team. “We’ve been increasing. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve outgrown every facility we’ve ever gotten to use, but that’s a good thing.”
The proposed practice site will be perfect for his students’ needs, Taylor said.
“There’s classroom space in there for training sessions for coaches, kids, and summer camps,” he said.
The property owner decided not to charge rent for the building’s use, which means nonprofit groups such as the 4-H, American Legion Shooting Sports, and Boy Scouts could train there at no cost.
“The goal is through sponsorships and business support to pay the bills for these kids to come practice for free,” Taylor said.
In return, Taylor and his group of 4-H shooters will do many of the renovations themselves.
“This is the kids’ project, and they have to earn it,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch. They have to work at it.”
More complex parts of the building’s remodel will be handled by professionals, of course.
“We have donors, for example, construction companies, that will come in and build some walls for us,” he said. “You obviously don’t want kids up there on heavy machinery and scaffolding.”
Taylor said the group recently received eight indoor electronic targets.
“They’re the exact same systems that they use in the Olympics and world championships,” he said. “We’ll be able to utilize them for small matches as well as training and so forth for those nonprofit teams from all over the state and all over the South.”
The ultimate goal for the Burnet site is to become a certified training facility through USA Shooting Sports, the sport’s controlling body.
“It would allow us to have classes there,” Taylor said. “It also gives grants for coaches and training sessions. It allows for national teams to train here, too.”
The certification would also make the facility one of the only training sites in the entire state of Texas and greater region.
“You have to go all the way to Los Angeles or all the way to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs or all the way to Anderson, Alabama,” Taylor said. “There is one tiny one in Carrollton (Texas), but you have to be a member of the Dallas Pistol and Rifle Club.”
If all goes according to plan, Taylor is hopeful to open the doors by July.
“I’m figuring by the end of July, we’ll have it up and running,” he said.