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BSC Forensics Students Develop “Hands On” Understanding of Ballistics at Bluefield Firing Range (w/photo)

  • Created
    Thursday, April 23 2009
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103
Bluefield State College students (front row, left-to-right) Kayla Fazio, Brittany Lilly, Jennie Houghtoling, (second row, left-to-right), Elisha Martin, Sara Wimmer, Emily Gilligan, Jordan Manns, Brandi Jones, and Anna Omar participated in a pair of ballistics-related forensics fiend trips at the Bluefield Fraternal Order of Police firing range recently. 

(Bluefield)—The Bluefield Fraternal Order of Police Firing Range, behind Mitchell Stadium, is an unusual classroom setting, but for several Bluefield State College students it proved to be a very effective one.  The students augmented their understanding of bullet characteristics, flight, impact dynamics and more during a pair of visits to the range as part of the forensic science minor offered at BSC.

“ Richard Mann, an author and inventor, brought a ‘bullet test tube’ to the range, and students were able to study and analyze a variety of bullets that were shot and recovered to determine how they reacted after impact,” noted Col. William Aldridge (Associate Professor, Criminal Justice Administration).

“The students also discharged weapons into an automobile provided by the Bluefield Police Department, studying the physics of deflection and refraction,” added Dr. Patrick Muldoon, Chemistry Professor.  “The experience helped students see how knowledge of ballistics can be useful during crime analysis.”

During a second visit to the range, the students fired the MP-5 (9 MM) submachine gun and the Colt M-4 assault rifle, then watched a demonstration of the Bluefield PD’s K-9 unit.  Joe Wilson (Bluefield, WV Police Chief) and Bluefield Police Corporals Matt Beck and Jason Brooks provided instruction and assistance on the range.

The students praised the effectiveness of their trip to the range.  “I was really surprised by the ‘mushroom effect’ of the 9 MM round—how it hits and spreads,” observed Elisha Martin of Bluefield, VA.  “The speed of the bullet is also pretty impressive,” noted Jordan Manns (Bluefield, WV).  “This is the most ‘hands on’ class I’ve taken at Bluefield State.”

For Sara Wimmer (Bluefield, VA), the course is both interesting and challenging.  “It feels like you are really learning something that has a purpose,” she said.  “Forensics challenges you to think outside the box.”
The course is taught by a team of BSC faculty members, including Dr. Tesfaye Belay (Associate Professor of Biology), Mike Lilly (Professor, Criminal Justice Administration; Program Director, Criminal Justice), Dr. Muldoon, and Colonel Aldridge.