Michigan State’s Demmer Shooting Center Aims To Involve Community In Safe Shooting Sports

Feb 14, 2019

The Demmer Center works with beginners to Olympic hopefuls, sharing the love of shooting. 

EAST LANSING, Mich. - When people think of Michigan State’s physical campus borders, they normally stop as far south as Mt. Hope Road. However, the true southern border is Jolly Road, and that is where one of MSU’s hidden gems is located.

The Demmer Shooting Center, located at the intersection of Jolly and College Roads, is home to many firearms and archery shooting activities, education, talent training, events, and classes.

Highlighted by both an indoor and outdoor archery range, along with an indoor gun range, the Demmer Center is there for everyone no matter their background in shooting.

The Demmer Center firearm range.
Credit Jack Sznewajs

“Primarily our clientele are people who are new to shooting or have never shot before,” said General Manager Mike Galella. “What we mainly do, is we do introductory sessions. People come in (who have never shot before), we take them in the classroom, we do a safety briefing and we also go through the whole shot process with them.”

The center is also an official U.S. Olympic training center, one of the few in the nation.

The Summer Olympics are next year in Tokyo, and the Demmer Center is gearing up to start training some of the country’s finest young athletes to qualify for the Games.

“We focus on the juniors,” said Smith. “We’re kind of a feeder program. We currently have 10 juniors that are shooting just for an air pistol and another half a dozen that are shooting an air rifle.”

Outside of Olympic training, the Demmer Center houses a variety of classes for MSU students.

“We teach kinesiology classes for archery and we do Olympic air rifle,” said Galella. “Next year, we’re going to be doing a combination, which is going to be one class, and it teaches air pistol, air rifle, and archery so the students will be rotating from the different shooting disciplines.”

There are two full-time instructors and several part-time employees.

“When I first started here, they said ‘You know you’re going to have to run this with volunteers and on-call part-time people,’” said Galella. “Fast-forward the clock, and half of the staff (10 people) have been here since we opened (in 2009), and I never realized that until actually recently.”

MSU junior Jimmy Petrilli is enrolled in MSU’s Olympic air rifle course at the Demmer Center and said his experience has been very favorable so far.

“If you’re someone who likes shooting just about anything down range, the Demmer Center will exceed those needs as it has a very nice shooting facility,” said Petrilli. “It’s a great environment to go hone your shooting skills if you are a marksman and are into that sort of thing.”

The Demmer Center lobby.
Credit Jack Sznewajs

Along with Olympic training and MSU courses, the center offers a variety of classes that range from beginner to expert.

“We have several different junior classes on the weekends and work our way up to whatever age,” said Smith. “We also provide training for basic instruction for shooting firearms, pistols, rifles and for archery.”

There is much more of an emphasis on gun safety across the country, and the Demmer Center makes sure their environment is safe.

“Their emphasis on safety (has stood out to me),” said Petrilli. “The staff are super nice and their willingness and excitement to educate Michigan State students in the sports of Olympic air rifle and archery is second to none.”

The Demmer Center has taught and trained thousands of people since it opened a decade ago, and Galella loves the impact it has had thus far.

“It’s been exciting,” he said. “We’ve had some amazing, amazing times here. There’s so many things that stand out, but it’s really, really great.”