New ROTC training facility to open

Collegian+photo+by+Milee+Young

Collegian photo by Milee Young

Milee Young, Reporter (She/her)

DePuy Military Hall is home to the Air Force and Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), and now thanks to the Howard family, there has been a major upgrade to the building’s basement. 

 In 2019, a $100,000 donation from Rick and Kay Howard gave the go-ahead for the old shooting range to be remodeled as a training facility.

 Now, the Howard Family Combat Training Facility will open Saturday, Oct. 9, with the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. The new facility features rubberized flooring on one side and artificial turf on the other. The rubberized flooring, which is the same flooring used in the Wellness Center, will be for weightlifting and have a grid for military operations planning.

This facility will be used to help cadets train for the Army’s new fitness test, as well as give them the opportunity to work on their marksmanship. Donavan Bain, a junior Army ROTC cadet from Yankton, is excited about the facility. 

 “It’s the fact that we now have a facility where we can deadlift and do our sprint-drag carries without distractions,” he said.

 Bain noted that most cadets workout in the Wellness Center outside of physical training (PT) sessions. 

 “Having this facility where we can keep each other accountable will definitely make it better,” he said.

 Maddie Palmquist, a cadet who is also a member of the National Guard, said the facility makes time management easier. 

 “It will help eliminate the good 45 minutes we take in the morning grabbing equipment we have here and moving it to the SJAC (Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex),” Palmquist said.  

 The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) is comprised of six different events that include the following: a repetition strength deadlift, standing power throw, arm extension push-up, 250-meter sprint, drag carry, leg tuck and a  2-mile run.

 These components are designed to simulate combat conditions. For example, the sled drag replicates dragging a wounded comrade off the battlefield.

 “Not only will we be able to use it for physical fitness, but also marksmanship training,” said Master Sgt. David Exton, who serves as the senior military science instructor for Army ROTC. 

 A smokeless shooting range is another part of the facility. A smokeless range works by using a computer with the proper software connected to a webcam and a projector. An electronic range is projected while cadets use model M4 rifles to shoot. 

 The Air Force ROTC cadets will also be able to use the training facility once it is open. Lt. Col. Jason Haufschild, Air Force ROTC commander and professor of aerospace studies, expects that the facility will be used by Air Force and Army ROTC cadets and cadre members for years to come. 

 “While I enjoyed the opportunity to shoot on the rifle range a couple times as an Air Force ROTC cadet, the new facility occupying the space will see a lot more use,” Haufschild said.

 Lt. Col. Jason Kettwig is the Army ROTC commander and professor of military science. He appreciates Howard’s gift.

 “It’s partnerships and the generosity of people like the Howard family that really help not only make the ROTC department, but the university thrive,” Kettwig said.

If you are interested in learning more about Army or Air Force ROTC visit: for Air Force: www.sdstate.edu/air or contact Zackery Milder at [email protected]; or for Army: www.sdstate.edu/msl or contact Troy Ness at [email protected]