Monday, June 06, 2005

On Losing Shooting Ranges

Bill and I had a busy weekend with real estate meetings and other not so fun stuff. We did manage to get out to the range and shoot for awhile. I shot my Sig Hammerli target pistol and my AR-15 carbine. Bill shot his Baikal target pistol and his Schmidt-Rubin K31 Swiss rifle. Considering we haven’t burned any gunpowder for too long now, we both liked how our bullets hit more or less where we aimed.

It was great being out at the range on a sunny day after so many rainy days in May. We go to a private club that we had to join just to find a place to shoot. There are too few public ranges or even informal plinking ranges here.

Speaking of places to shoot, Michael Bane lost his range a few days ago. The United States Forest Service as represented, so far as I know, by a lone anti-gun ranger said no more shooting here. When you go to Michael’s post (and you should), be sure to read the comments for more background and information.

Back in April, Bill and I faced a similar loss. There’s a public area in Merrimack, New Hampshire called Horse Hill Nature Preserve. It’s been used for decades for hunting, target shooting, and other outdoorsy stuff. To the best of my knowledge, no one has been hurt or killed there because of shooting or hunting. A handful of nearby residents complained about noise and managed to get a petition that would have banned any shooting, even hunting, at the preserve. City councilmen softened it to limit only target shooting and to conduct a study on hunting affects.

The watered down version was offered to the voters and I’ll be damned, but it passed by an almost two-to-one margin. And New Hampshire is the “Live Free or Die” state. Since our state has a firearms preemption law, there’s a chance the state will squash the new regulation, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Ranges on public lands are getting few and far between. Granted, people still go out into the forest and set up a target and bang away, but in a congested area like Southern New Hampshire that’s not always a good idea. The dedicated shooter is then forced to look a private ranges open to anyone. Of course, these ranges have an hourly charge. Bill and I were spending way too much of our hard-earned dollars at one of these ranges.

We joined the private club and have a place to shoot for now. I don’t know if anti-gunnies are behind ranges closing and high range fee (their activities could drive up range insurance costs). For that matter they don’t have to be behind it. Market forces are enough to change shooting, as we know it. Back when I was a teenager, I could bike or later drive to the edge of town and plink to my heart’s content. No one whined about noise, no one called cops or rangers. Shooting was a normal activity 30 or so years ago.

Now shooting is a suspect activity. People who’ve never touched a gun before pass laws or regulations telling us where, when, and what to shoot. Neighbors have no toleration for a little noise on a Saturday afternoon. They view gunshots as a nuisance at best and something to fear at worst. To me, gunshots are the sound of freedom. I guess I’m just an old-fashioned gal in a new-fangled world.

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