BURLEY — Two Cassia Regional Technical Center students took on a project constructing shooting targets for the Cassia County Sheriff’s SWAT team — saving the sheriff’s office thousands of dollars.
Students Shelby Hurd and Brittany Hardy designed, cut and welded six steel targets for the team during a project that took a year to complete.
“With the budget cuts we don’t have a lot of money,” Jarrod Thompson, the SWAT team director, said Thursday as some of the team members arrived at the school to meet the students. “And these are better than we could’ve bought.”
Thompson said the targets are made out of AR500 steel, which is “really expensive.”
The steel is more durable and improves safety. When softer steel is hit over and over it can start to pit and cause bullets to ricochet, he said.
The cost to purchase one target runs about $500 and for the cost of $500 in steel the students were able to make six targets.
One of the targets has a flip out metal circle that simulates a hostage-type situation and helps the team practice precision shooting, Thompson said.
“This will help make our team members better shots,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the students and their parents could go to the practice range accompanied by officers sometime to try out the targets for themselves.
The AR500 steel, which is used to make items like snow plow blades, is very heavy and hard, Merrill Bylund, automated manufacturing instructor at CRTC, said.
It was Hardy’s first project where she used a plasma table and she was able to lay out the target designs so efficiently they were able to cut an extra target from the allotted steel.
“I pretty much had one shot to get it right,” Hardy said. “I was able to find the different angles and curves and make something someone else needs.”
Hardy said she was drawn to the program because she wanted to learn how to make tractor parts for their family farm.
“It’s really hard to get parts sometimes,” she said.
Hurd, who performed the welding on the targets, had to learn how to use a special wire for this type of steel.
“It’s something you just don’t do every day,” she said.
Hurd said when she saw all the equipment in the manufacturing shop she was instantly drawn to the program.
“I wanted to learn how to use all these machines,” she said.
Owners of a local welding company that visited the shop saw the quality of Hurd’s welding and offered her a job.
“I’m thinking about welding as a profession,” she said. “I haven’t decided yet. But it will definitely be something nice to fall back on.”
Hurd said her next project is building a coffee table for her mother using the family’s ranch brand.
The district’s goal with the technical programs is to help students find professions and join the local workforce, Debbie Critchfield, Cassia County School District spokeswoman, said.
“Projects like this give students a chance to do real life work,” Bylund said.