Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Need to Educate the Dedicated Hunter

Yosemite Sam and I stumbled on yet another "hook and bullet" writer who doesn't understand why so many people were angry at Zumbo. Mark Henckel of the Billings Gazette says:

As I wrote to an outdoor writer friend of mine as this was blowing up, 'You know, that could have been me. I could have written much the same as Zumbo did. I wouldn't have worded it that way. I wouldn't have called for a ban on those guns. But I know exactly what Jim was getting at in what he wrote.'

For one thing, Zumbo writes from the standpoint of being a lifelong hunter - not necessarily a target shooter. There are differences between hunting and both competitive target shooting or simply target shooting for fun.
He then went on to say:

If people are doing that [getting clean kills] with ARs and AKs, that's fine, but I'll admit that it's a surprise to me, too. Those wouldn't be my first choices for hunting rifles either.

Granted, Zumbo's choice of words was inflammatory. He didn't spell out what he meant as well as he could have either, in terms of hunting guns and shooting guns for the range. And to talk of a hunting ban was stupid. Instead, he should have simply said there are far better rifle choices out there to accomplish hunting tasks.
Henckel makes assumptions about black rifles and the AR platform in particular. He assumes that black rifles are not accurate enough and come in calibers unsuited to hunting. We know that's wrong, but the hunters don't. Zumbo and his compatriots aren't educated about the rifles. I suspect, though, that many don't want to be educated.

I then read comments whose writers even more clearly show their ignorance black rifles. A few grudgingly agreed with the idea they might be useful in prairie dog or coyote hunting, but never for big game. Some thought that they should be left to target shooting only. At least one commenter called for an outright ban so anti-gunnies would be happy and leave his guns alone.

Along with ignorance, we might be seeing a technological paradigm shift. People can get devoted to a particular technology and disparage something new that comes along. For instance, some people were hesitant to give up fountain pens in favor of ball-point pens, or typewriters for computers.

Hunters who decry black rifles (remember not all hunters are Fuddites) need to understand that times are changing. Gun technology has advanced beyond the Mauser action. Also, veterans coming out of training are comfortable with an AR-type gun. When they become civilians some may not want to carry such a rifle a again, but most gravitate toward the ARs.

Further, from everything I've seen, target shooters outnumber hunters by large percentages. A few commenters decried Remington's decision to drop Zumbo. They don't realize that Remington made a canny business decision that also happened to be correct.

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