- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

SOLSBERRY, Ind. (AP) - In the settling dust, kicked up from a long gravel drive near Solsberry, it’s easy to squint one’s eyes and imagine the Middle East. The blurry outline of armed men hanging off a four-wheel drive vehicle. A long-barreled, high power rifle and its gleaming cartridges. Those iconic desert scarves, shemaghs, flapping at soldiers’ necks.

There’s a convergence of two worlds at Panther Ridge Training Center, a private-yet-accessible facility where Jerimiah Barthold simultaneously works to return to society while elevating the senses of those that seek his training in civilian life. Founded in 2011 after Barthold’s medical release from the Army, the range has been listed for sale as part of the family’s greater 149-acre homestead in the hopes that their role in weapons training will be elevated under new ownership.

“This has been kind of therapeutic in a sense, for me to be in my element and train people with the knowledge I have,” said Barthold, the center’s director of training. “After being in Third World countries half my life, to be able to offer people insight into protection is key and fundamental for me. I wish everybody would come out here and do it.”

That’s the response Barthold gives when asked who uses the range - everybody. On a given day, shooters are anywhere from 16 to 60 years old. They’re ex-military, pre-military, members of the Call of Duty generation, local law enforcement or just people looking for a little direction. Courses range from introductory pistol, shotgun and carbine training to courses for more experienced and vetted professionals, including tactical vehicle operations, patrolling and close quarters combat.

“I’m basically trying to create a stigma away from the Southern Indiana redneck, because that’s not what we do here. We’re quiet professionals,” Barthold said. “It’s so Hollywood-ized that people get the wrong impression.”

According to Barthold, he does what he does because of society’s continuing furtherance from the nation’s original values.

“An overall safety awareness, an armed society is a polite society; a hundred years ago, everybody carried a gun. I don’t understand why America got away from these ideals,” Barthold said. “Now, we’re worried about a transgender bathroom. It’s the Kansas City Shuffle, man; everybody looks left while people are working right. People are so focused on the things that don’t matter while their safety is at hand.”

Barthold’s military and private contracting career has taken him from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Iraq, to Virginia, to Washington, D.C., to Kuwait, to Haiti and back.

“I left my boot print on a lot of doors in Afghanistan,” he said, elaborating on his close quarters combat experience.

From that career, Barthold learned to “get a kit, make a plan and be prepared.” After his final stint in Afghanistan, Barthold returned home to recover from an injury he sustained from an IED explosion in 2011, sat down and spent six months writing training course curriculum.

“A lot of this was for Jerimiah coming out of a warzone,” said Bart Barthold, Jerimiah’s father and owner of Panther Ridge Research, the training center’s parent company. “When it was time for him to leave the embassy at Kabul and come back here, we decided, here’s 21 acres on the high side of Greene County; you can shoot up a storm if you want to. It’s been great therapy.”

Bart, a retired Master Chief with the U.S. Navy, spent 22 years serving his country. Bart says he’s lived three lifetimes; one over, one on, and one under the ocean. It’s the reason why he decided it was time to put everything back into his family and retire to a place where he can “forget the ocean exists for a while.”

“I always thought it would be a homestead, and if not, it would turn into an investment,” said Bart. “I’m looking to retire here in the next couple of years, and it has started to seem like it’s a good time for everything to turn into an investment.”

Should a buyer purchase the property, which included the Bartholds’ two-story home, Bart hopes to travel with his wife, Barbara, and move to Bloomington to be closer to family. Still, he remains discerning about sale.

“What me and my wife would like to see is for someone to pick up Panther Ridge and raise it to the next level,” he said.

That next level, as Jerimiah sees it, would include a three-story building for tactical exercises; a driving course; a classroom with shooting supplies available for purchase; and indoor range; and even a helicopter landing pad that would allow training from a practiced professional in aerial shooting.

“I’m glad I have the availability, the know-how and the knowledge to be able to put this together with my dad,” said Jerimiah. “I really care about people as a community. It’s just the individuals that mess it up. Our system is broken, and this is my way to help the people in my community.”


Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/1RO7Xzp


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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