June 2005

Short Shots: 06/05

USA Shooting To Partner With Texas Facility For Competitions
At USA Shooting’s biannual board of directors meeting on April 2, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the board unanimously passed a resolution to partner with Hill Country Shooting Sports Center (HCSSC) in Kerrville, Texas, as a future location for a majority of USA Shooting events.

USA Shooting is recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) as the national governing body for the Olympic and international shooting sports in the United States.

USA Shooting has been looking for a full-service shooting range since the 1996 Olympic Shooting Range in Wolf Creek shut its doors, indicating a need for a facility to hold national and international events, as well as assist in the development of youth programs. There are currently only two venues that can host major competitions—the International Shooting Park at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, which is only capable of holding shotgun events, and the United States Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) ranges located on the Fort Benning military base near Columbus, Georgia.

“There are two major reasons we have been looking for another venue,” Bob Mitchell, CEO of USA Shooting says. “First, the facilities we have now are on military bases, and we could lose or have restricted access at any time. Second, we need a neutral site. The International Shooting Park is the home range of the Olympic Training Center athletes, and the Fort Benning Range is the home range of the USAMU. It becomes very important that we are able to adapt to different conditions and environments as we travel around the world, and really there is no better way to train for that, than being able to shoot in different conditions within your country.”

Hill Country Shooting Sports Center’s Chief Operating Officer, Jack Burch, along with Sudie Burditt, a member of the advisory board of HCSSC and executive director of the Kerrville Convention & Visitors Bureau, both gave presentations to the USA Shooting board of directors, outlining the building plans, community support and financials of this state-of-the-art public shooting-sports facility. Also in attendance were Rose M. Burch, owner of the property where Hill Country Shooting Sports Center resides and Karol Schreiner, board of directors for Kerrville Convention & Visitors Bureau and Board President of Hill Country Shooting Sports Center.

“My lifelong interest in shooting sports has led my wife, Rose, and I to build a shooting facility to fill the needs of shooters,” Jack Burch said. “We started this dream in 1999 working with our local 4-H shotgun club and have expanded to include international events and sporting clay tournaments. To better serve the youth of our area, state and the nation, we have worked toward adding the remaining international venues, which will give our kids the ability to seek out their dreams. Without the help of the folks of Kerrville and surrounding area, this dream would not have been possible.”

As of now, the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center has three operating international skeet fields, and one international trap bunker. However, since the United States has been awarded a prestigious international clay target World Cup competition in 2006, Burch has guaranteed that if USA Shooting agrees to hold that event at HCSSC, there would be no problem building two additional skeet fields and four additional international trap bunkers by next spring. In time, the facility will also house rifle and pistol ranges for the 10-meter, 25-meter, and 50-meter competitions. All rifle and pistol ranges will have state-of-the-art electronic target systems.

The HCSSC is situated on 140 acres of land where a maintenance building, public rifle and pistol ranges, classrooms and a pro shop have recently been constructed. When complete, the complex will be the best in the Western hemisphere and will be in a location that allows year-round training and competition.

The Hill Country Shooting Sports Center will be the only full-service sport-shooting public facility of its type in the United States. Training and competition in rifle, pistol and shotgun events, including Olympic events, and a 31,000-square-foot airgun hall will make this range unique.

The range is located 60 miles west of San Antonio on Interstate 10 in Kerr County, which has a population of 45,000.

“We have found truly outstanding partners in Jack and Rose Burch, the city of Kerrville and the surrounding area, in our quest to build a world-class Olympic shooting venue,” Mitchell said. “We have been working together to build a working partnership, and the pieces required for success are coming together.”

To learn more about USA Shooting, call them at (719) 866-4743 or visit their website at www.usashooting.org.

Our Take: Members of the Gun Tests staff served during the Centennial Olympic Games at Atlanta in 1996, and they were awed by the Wolf Creek facility. Likewise, they were saddened when Atlanta’s county commissioners weren’t interested in keeping the facility open. In this case, Georgia’s loss will be Texas’s gain.


Shooting Events For Great Outdoor Games To Be Held At Tenoroc Range
Rifle and shotgun enthusiasts tuning in to the ESPN Great Outdoor Games can expect to see world-class facilities at this year’s shooting sports venue, Tenoroc Shooting Sports and Training Range, near Lakeland, Florida. Shooting-industry officials list Tenoroc as their first choice for firearms sporting events in central Florida because the facility regularly accommodates a variety of competitions.

The Games will be held July 7-10, and broadcast July 13-17, 2005, on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports. Last year, nearly 36 million people tuned in to watch the Games, a new high for the event.

Cyndi Dalena, director of shooting sports development for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which sponsors ESPN’s rifle and shotgun events, said, “Tenoroc has a great reputation among shooters. This is a first-class facility, and its staff is experienced in handling high-profile shooting events.”

The rifle and shotgun competitions will be the only events not held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, so Tenoroc’s location, 30 miles southwest of Disney, is a bonus. The Tenoroc shooting complex covers 170 acres and has several shooting ranges to accommodate rifles, shotguns, handguns and archery shooting. The property is 3 miles northeast of Lakeland and is surrounded by the 7,300-acre Tenoroc Fish & Wildlife Management Area, which is owned by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The state of Florida leases the shooting-range property to Mark Smith, president of Tenoroc Shooting Sports and Training. Smith has operated the Tenoroc complex for five years. He said between 15,000 and 20,000 shooters use the facilities each year. These events include charity and corporate shoots, monthly tournaments for the National Sporting Clays Association, and hunter-education shooting instruction for all classes from the surrounding five counties.

Because of Tenoroc’s diverse facilities, this will be the first time in the Great Outdoor Games’ six-year history that it won’t require the event’s firearms ranges to be built from scratch to meet local safety concerns. “We’ll hold both of the ESPN events on our 100-yard rifle range,” Smith said. “ESPN will build bleachers and grandstands that don’t exist right now to accommodate spectators, but our ranges were built to ensure safe shooting.”

Our Take: As an antidote to the ball sports, we enjoy watching the Great Outdoor Games’s target sports competitions, which feature fantastic shooting prowess. But our favorite event is the sporting dogs competitions.


Does Unengraved Mean Unsafe?
The California General Assembly will soon vote on a bill (AB 352) that would define as “unsafe” any semi-automatic pistol not manufactured with the firearm’s make, model, and serial number micro-laser engraved on the pistol’s interior so that the information is imprinted on a cartridge case discharged in the firearm.

The concept, known as “microstamping,” is based on an assumption that it will be an effective tool in reducing the criminal misuse of firearms.

Among the many reasons why microstamping is a bad idea is that it can be easily defeated by criminals who simply file away the laser-engraved information. Also, normal usage and cleaning by law-abiding gun owners can lead to wear of the markings and replacement of parts containing the markings.

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) is opposed to this legislation. For more background, see www.saami.org.

Letters of opposition should be sent to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Paul Koretz, State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0042.

AB 352 would, effective January 1, 2007, define as “unsafe” any semiautomatic pistol not designed and manufactured with the firearm’s make, model and serial number micro-laser engraved on the interior surface or internal working parts of the pistol so that the information is imprinted on a cartridge case discharged in the firearm.

SAAMI is opposed to AB 352 for a number of reasons. The technology can be easily defeated by the intentional acts of criminals and unintentionally by the law-abiding through normal use (wear) and maintenance of the firearm. Also, mandating the use of this technology is based on the faulty assumption that most criminals obtain the firearms they use in crime from federally licensed firearm retailers.

Lawrence G. Keane, SAAMI’s general counsel, wrote, “We are unaware of a single peer-reviewed study by a criminalist or forensic science expert that has examined the question of whether micro-laser engraving firearms would be an effective means of reducing the criminal misuse of firearms.

The bill fails to recognize the unfortunate reality that mandating the technology for the few firearms sold each year in the state of California will create an illegal black market for “non-laser engraved” firearms and further increase illegal, interstate firearm trafficking. This bill also fails to consider that there are tens of millions of firearms in circulation that have not been, and cannot now be, micro-laser engraved.”

Our Take: The real risk is that innocent civilians will be arrested by law enforcement on suspicion of having been involved in criminal shootings. It wouldn’t take a genius to harvest cases at shooting ranges and drop them at crime scenes, implicating regular shooters. Also, criminals can avoid the technology by simply using firearms that do not eject shell casings (revolvers) thus leaving no casing at the crime scene.


Poll: Gun Control Doesn’t Control Terrorism
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) recently released the results of a poll it commissioned, which shows overwhelming rejection by likely American voters that banning guns would be an effective action in the fight against terrorism.

Asked whether they agreed or disagreed that banning guns would reduce the threat from terrorists, 75 percent of poll respondents disagreed. One in five respondents (20 percent) agreed that banning guns would reduce the threat from terrorists, and 5 percent were not sure.

Zogby International polled a nationwide sample of 1,009 likely voters chosen at random. The poll had a margin error of plus or minus 3.2 percent. Polling occurred between March 30 and April 1.

SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said, “It’s been pretty clear for a long time that gun grabbers don’t have a clue. All they want to do is take guns away from people, any guns, all guns, and they don’t care how much blood they dance through or how much hysteria they spread to get the job done.

“Look at their track record,” he said. “Anti-gunners have used every excuse, every tragic event, to demand increasingly restrictive gun laws. They pushed gun bans to stop urban crime, but look how that has failed in places like Washington, D.C., and Chicago. They pressed for a gun-free school-zones law, but that hasn’t stopped tragedies like Columbine and, more recently, Red Lake High School in Minnesota. And lately they’ve tried to gull America into supporting bans on certain firearms as a way to thwart terrorism.

The Second Amendment Foundation is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal-action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.

Our Take: Our fellow citizens seem to understand that terrorists are criminals, and you do not stop criminals by disarming their intended victims.


Simpler Gun Laws in Kansas
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has made it easier for people to transport firearms in Kansas without fear of being arrested.

A new law the governor signed in April makes it legal to carry a firearm anywhere in the state as long as it’s unloaded and in an enclosed container. The law, which takes effect July 1, says local governments can’t impose more stringent controls.

“Currently hunters and other law-abiding gun owners traveling across Kansas may unknowingly violate gun ordinances by simply driving through another town,” Sebelius said in statement.

The new law also allows law-enforcement agencies to sell or trade seized firearms, and allows sheriffs to execute warrants to seize firearms from delinquent taxpayers.

Our Take: The bill was needed to protect gun owners from unfair prosecution.