Good day everyone.
Since releasing our 2019 season, we have been inundated with emails and calls asking when our Grand Rapids classes at Caledonia Sportsman Club would be posted.
Unfortunately, the answer is that it will not be happening.
Years ago, we were introduced to Caledonia Sportsman’s Club by a member of the MDFI Alumni and after an introductory email and a couple of handshakes, we started holding classes at their wonderful facility.
We were incredibly happy to see the thousands of dollars that we were bringing into the club used to further improve the ability of schools like MDFI to hold classes at the range.
Like any location that we train at, the title of “member” or “guest” does not ever guarantee that an individual or group is safe with firearms and we take great steps to make sure that if people around our classes are acting against irresponsibly and against club policies that we intervene and report such offenses to our partners around the state. Ranges are not safe no matter how many rules you make (As firearms are involved) but fostering an environment that demands responsibility with firearms is paramount to keeping ranges as safe as possible.
The relationship between range/venue and school/trainers can only work when both parties are working in the best interest of safety, responsibility, and as ambassadors to the 2nd Amendment and the rights protected therein.
Early in 2017 while holding a class at Caledonia Sportsman’s Club, I personally witnessed members of a private group consuming alcohol on the firing line while engaging in shotgun sports and forwarded this information to the club safety manager who in turn, sent the information to the Board of Directors. This letter was never responded to.
As it turns out, the club did not have a “Don’t Shoot While Under the Influence of Booze” alcohol policy. Our email to the Board of Directors started an internal discussion that sadly took far too long to enact a “No drinking while shooting” policy but we were happy to see that common sense was finally policy as it is in every other club we train at.
Recently, it was brought to our attention that the newly-enacted policy appears to be but window dressing and not to be enforced. This was highlighted by the abrupt resignation of the club Range Safety Director and another member of the Board of Directors who stated such in their letters of resignation.
Since 2017, MDFI has brought these concerns to the Caledonia Sportsman’s Club in the interest of making the club a safe bastion for the enjoyment of shooting sports and education, and we can no longer state that to train there would be in the best interest of our company, cadre, and most importantly our students.
Effective immediately, MDFI has moved or cancelled all 18 classes scheduled for next year from Caledonia Sportsman’s Club. This move has and will cost MDFI a great deal of income but we will always choose safety for everyone over financial gain. Knowing that some other organizations have also heard this news and chosen to still hold classes there in 2019, we would beg them to reconsider as no training location is above the safety of students. Should there be a dynamic shift in attitude toward safety and responsibility over the desire to continue on the “way it’s always been,” MDFI might consider utilizing the facility again. For now, we will support the clubs that provide a training location and atmosphere that mirror our mission to build responsibly-armed Americans.
Included with our announcement is our recent (and unanswered) letter to the Caledonia Board of Directors, and all supporting letters and emails.
We leave it to you to decide to utilize the ranges there, or elsewhere.
To our friends at the Caledonia Sportsman’s Club: Thank you for the years of good times. We hope that you can regain control at your incredible facility. All it takes is one incident that could be avoided to lose everything and set the actions of good people back by years. We cannot be party to an environment that gives us doubts.
Best of luck. Stay safe.
Responsibility over liability.
– Trek MDFI
For those wishing to ask questions of/voice concerns to the Caledonia Board of Directors, you can do so here: BOD@Calsc.org
Letter to Caledonia Sportsman’s Club Board of Directors 13 October 2018
TO: Caledonia Sportsman’s Club Board of Directors
FROM: MDFI Training LLC
SUBJECT: Club Alcohol Policy Enforcement
1. I am writing to you today to express a serious concern that has been brought to my attention pertaining to the Caledonia Sportsman’s Club, the newly-enacted Alcohol policy, and allegations that the policy is to not be enforced.
2. On 28 May 2017, I authored a letter to the Caledonia Sportsman’s Club (Attachment 1.) expressing my concerns regarding club attendees wielding firearms while consuming alcohol to include beer bottles visible on the firing line. Although I never received a formal response, my club liaison, Mr. Nick Lanning informed me that the issue had been brought to the Board of Directors and that the group was working to formalize a policy.
3. In June of this year, I received the newly voted in Caledonia Sportsman’s Club Alcohol Policy (Attachment 2.) from Mr. Lanning who informed me that it was, shockingly, difficult to get passed but at a vote of 6-1, was made policy to all club attendees and members.
4. I recently was informed by Mr. Lanning that he and another Board of Directors member had resigned their positions (Attachment 3.) stating grave concerns pertaining to two club members who were found to be consuming alcohol while in possession and use of firearms on club property without penalty. As I have been informed, Mr. Lanning who was responsible for range safety, was chastised for enforcing the club alcohol policy and upon his realizing that the BoD was to have a policy only to “check a box” and have no intention of enforcing said policy, resigned his position.
5. Gentlemen, if true, this cannot stand. Not only is a lack of discipline with a firearm a grave danger to others it is also a risk to the 2nd Amendment and the rights protected therein. For a professional organization to not immediately reprimand a person found/witnessed to be under the influence of alcohol is indefensible should negligence occur. Any policy found to be without consequence for failure to abide by its guidance brings nothing but unacceptable liability to the organization, membership, and those potentially impacted by its lack of enforcement and failure should it go unchallenged.
6. For the record I consider Mr. Nick Lanning a friend and a man of honor. He has never once given me a single reason to doubt his dedication to the safety of all who attend the Caledonia Sportsman’s Club facility or its ranges. That being said, years as a Non-Commissioned Officer and Law Enforcement Officer taught me to always consider the many sides to every story and I would welcome a response from the current BoD to address my concerns.
7. In the interim, I have been forced to postpone the publication of the 18 days scheduled for the 2019 season and our upcoming 2018 reservations at your facility due to these safety concerns for my staff and most importantly my students. Since having the pleasure of utilizing your wonderful facility, we have brought in a total of $15,105 in range fees since 2017 and we have been very pleased to see what the club has done with those funds to facilitate responsible firearms education with modifications to the ranges and improvements to the club.
Without confidence that the club offers the safest location possible, we cannot return for future classes.
I certainly hope to hear that the information I have received is incorrect and that the BoD intends on putting a stop to the consumption of alcohol while utilizing firearms and enforcing the existing club policy.
8. I appreciate your time considering this matter and I look forward to a formal response from your organization. Please respond by Wednesday, 17 October so we can work to incorporate Caledonia Sportsman’s Club into our normal class rotation.
President, Michigan Gun Owners
Attachment 1. 28 May 2017 Letter to the CSC BoD
Dear Caledonia Sportsman’s Club Board,
I write you today to address a serious concern that I have regarding a recent training day that MDFI held at your facility.
On Friday, 19 May, we had our scheduled Carbine Basics class on the new Tactical Bay that started at 0900. When we arrived, it appeared that there was some sort of event or meeting for a large company that was being held in the upstairs of the clubhouse. Later on in the day, I had some students bring up a concern to me after utilizing the downstairs latrine at the clubhouse that it appeared that individuals shooting on the trap and skeet course were drinking alcoholic beverages.
I immediately walked to the front of the clubhouse where scores of people in what appeared to be an organized event were openly consuming beer while handling firearms and preparing to shoot a course of fire. Not only was there alcohol involved but quite a few individuals were handling their shotguns with little to no adherence to the 4- Rules of Responsible Gun Handling. I wanted to address this issue with the board to inform you of what can only be described as wanton disregard for safety and common sense on at your facility so it can be corrected immediately or ascertain if this was a sanctioned event at the club where it was known that alcohol was allowed to be consumed while firearms were to be used.
Should this be news to the board, I will be happy to give as much detail to your organization to ensure that as you move forward, no gross safety issues like this can happen again.
If the response is the latter, I would ask for a response from the board stating the reasoning of how this could possibly be allowed by a professional organization while myself, my cadre, my students, and others could be put in serious jeopardy for no good reason and to an end that could never be justified (by a court or public opinion) should a person be harmed in this scenario.
I want to thank the CSC Board and Charter Members for their hospitality since first allowing us to teach at your amazing facility and although we have no ownership there, we are absolutely interested in protecting such an asset to our freedoms and shooting sports.
Erik D Utrecht, Owner
MDFI Training LLC
Attachment 2. 18 June 2018 CSC Alcohol Policy
Caledonia Sportsmen’s Club Policy (adopted 6/18/2018)
Prohibition of the Consumption of Alcohol Prior to Use/Handling of Loaded Firearms
Since the inception of this organization, the Caledonia Sportsmen’s Club has promoted and enjoyed a safe history of the use of firearms on the premises. In the interests of the continuation of safety and providing a safe environment to all members, their families and guests, the Caledonia Sportsmen Club implements and adopts the following policy as to the prohibition of the consumption of alcohol on club premises prior to the use or handling of loaded firearms. The Board of Directors, on behalf of its membership, in the past, present and future, recognizes that the consumption of alcohol prior to or in conjunction with the handling and/or use of loaded firearms is contradictory to the safety standards adopted and practiced at shooting ranges and sporting organizations. For the purpose of reemphasizing this standard and to ensure the continual safety of club membership, their families and guests, the Caledonia Sportsmen Club Board of Directors formally implements the following policy:
The consumption of alcoholic beverages or any other intoxicant on club premises prior to the use or handling of loaded firearms is prohibited.
Attachment 3. Letters of Resignation by CSC BoD Members.
September 8, 2018
Mr. Dar Rodgers:
Please be advised that effective 9/9/2018 at 9AM I am resigning my position as Trustee of the Caledonia Sportsman’s Club. My resignation should not come as a surprise to you. I had sent an e-mail to all Board Members following an incident where I had brought the Club’s “No drinking and shooting” policy to the attention of two members who had, following their purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in our bar, gone out to the range and commenced shooting. I had intervened, and was chastised for intervening by fellow Board member (Name Withheld). I had hoped for an immediate Board meeting to discuss the problem of having a policy but no enforcement or procedure; especially when Mr. XXXX, a fellow Board member had allowed the drinking and shooting behavior to occur. No meeting was called. I raised the issue personally with you. You voiced that the policy was to be enforced only on people who appear really drunk could not shoot. You made it clear to me that the policy you voted for was only there as an insulator from personal liability for the Board Members should the unthinkable happen…that being an accidental shooting involving a person who had been served alcohol at the Club’s Bar. My interpretation (strict no drinking of alcohol and shooting) was mirrored by (Names Withheld) . At this point, it seems that as President, you are content to have a “policy” of no drinking and shooting, but to not enforce that policy. This will result in having a policy at the Club which allows drinking alcohol at the Club bar, then allowing those same individuals to go out to the ranges and shoot.
Given the situation, I also raised the issue with the Club’s attorney, Mr. Tom Aycock. My resignation is based on the advice of Mr. Aycock and others coupled with the fact that I can no longer accept the potential for personal liability which arises from your unrealistic interpretation of the club “policy”; with no enforcement of that policy.
I will continue take care of the Club Range rentals through October. I will refer any new inquiries to you. I will also maintain the Club’s website in return for no workdays in 2020 and beyond. Finally, I will no longer head up the “Hunters’ Safety Program” for the obvious reason that I cannot teach or participate in that program at a Club that condones the unsafe practice of serving alcohol and then allowing the consumer to participate in the shooting sports.
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