Sighting In

Every year we have a slow period between hunting seasons and are stuck waiting for the next season. There is one thing we can do to fill our time to help prepare for the up coming hunting season, and have a little fun doing so: sighting in your optics.

With hunting in mind I will be going over some basic tips on how to get the best accuracy and precision out of your set up.

First will be a proper mounting: we want to make sure everything is tight and seated properly; any movement at all will cause a huge issue and prevent an accurate shot. Some people like to use  Loctite on their screws.  Be sure to use removable (Blue) Loctite, as Red Loctite will cause the screws to permanently set, which will cause a great deal of trouble if you decided to change optics. Once the bases and rings are properly set and your optic is mounted we will take the firearm to the range.

If you have the proper tools to bore sight, then that should be your next step. If not your local Bass Pro will bore sight it for you. When bore sighting you want to start at 25 yards and adjust your windage and elevation screws on your scope. A habit I got into was to tap the screws lightly to help set the cross hairs. Now that the optic is bore sighted at 25 yards it should be on paper at 100. With a few more adjustments you should be spot on and ready for the next season. There are tons of products to help with sighting in, like the Pursuit Boresighter Kit. This will make future jobs easier and you would be able to sight in many different firearms. So what ever your hunting make sure your on target with a proper sighting.


 

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A Man Named Browning

In today's firearm market we have a lot of different choices in what we purchase, but what makes each manufacturer different from all the rest?  Is it machining?  Quality of metals?  Or perhaps simply how much love they put into their product?  Or is it all a matter of opinion?

With the research I have done one manufacturer caught my attention above the rest: Browning.  There is quite an interesting history behind Browning and how they became what they are today.  Not to mention, they are responsible for producing my favorite shotgun: the A-5. 

In 1855 a boy was born who would change the world of firearms. This boy would eventually design some of the most well known and arguably the best designed guns in modern firearms history.  We credit the design of firearms like the 1911 pistols and .50 caliber machine guns to the boy we all know as John Moses Browning.

Browning started making guns at a vary young age, the first gun he created was when he was 13. He contributed in furthering the design and quality of many different kinds of firearms including lever actions, single shots, and side by side shotguns.  What he is best known for, however, is his auto-loading firearms. He made many different kinds of auto-loading firearms like the .50 Caliber BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and the 1911 to name a few, and my all time favorite the Auto-5.    

The Auto-5 was created in 1895 and was put into production in 1900.  The Browning Auto-5 is a long-recoil operated semi-automatic shotgun.  Shells are stored in a tubular magazine under the barrel.  When a chambered shell is fired, the barrel and bolt recoil together (for a distance greater than the shell length) and re-cock the hammer.  As the barrel returns forward to its initial position the bolt remains behind and thus the spent shell is ejected through a port on the top of the receiver.  Then the bolt returns forward and feeds another shell from the magazine into the action.  So as Remington Model 11 Shotgunyou are firing the gun, the barrel slides into the receiver, (an action which is still seen in firearms such as the Barrett family of long-range weapons).  The A-5 has a system of friction rings that control the rate of recoil.  Setting these rings correctly is vital to optimal shotgun performance; and also to ensure a long life of the weapon by controlling excessive recoil.  The friction rings are set based on the type of load to be fired through the gun.  If you wanted to shoot a low brass round you can adjust the spring to fire without any hang ups or jams, and when you're ready to hunt with high brass you set the spring back and can have the same feeding reliability.

The Auto-5 came with lots of extras for its time as well.  One of these features is a magazine tube stop which stops any shells from loading in to the receiver when the action is cycled and the chambered round is removed.  This is a very useful feature, and adds safety when crossing fences, as you can safely de-chamber a round without completely unloading the firearm.  It also helps to change different loads with quickly and easily.  This feature is still in use today on the Browning Maxus.

The Auto-5 remained in production for nearly 100 years, stopping in 1998.  Browning has since re-released a very similar firearm, although it is now simply called the A5.  This shotgun has stood the test of time and has influenced the hunting world as we know it.  Although the design of this firearm is old and it may not win any beauty contests, its hump back design makes it very unique (and identifiable) and its reliability is still nearly unmatched.  If you're looking for a great gun with an even more impressive history the Auto-5 is a no-brainer.

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Firearm Safety

Firearm safety is the most important part of owning or shooting a firearm.  Many places offer Hunting Safety classes for free. Some states even require people born after a certain date to take the class before purchasing a hunting license.

Safety doesn't have an age limit. Even experienced shooters should take all precautions while handling firearms.

Firearm safety should be top priority whether you are in the woods, at the range, or at your home.

The NRA lists firearm safety as:

  • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot.

Here are a few more important rules to add:

  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Don't rely on the firearm's "safety".
  • Always be sure of your target and whats beyond it.
  • Never point at anything you don't intend on shooting.
  • Always keep the action open except while actually hunting or preparing to shoot.
  • Never climb a tree or fence with a loaded firearm.
  • Wear eye and ear protection while shooting.
  • Regular cleaning is required to ensure everything can work properly.
  • Do not use alcohol and/or other drugs while handling a firearm.

There are many other safety tips for handling firearms, but always pay attention and follow these basics.

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Women's Basic Handgun Class: A MUST!

So last year Bass Pro Shops partnered with Solutions Group International to start offering classes at certain locations. Our store here in Arizona was one such store. (I did a little blog on this last year.) Solutions Group International (SGI) are experts when it comes to training both civilians and professionals in a multitude of tactical and practical skill sets. One that we will be holding again in our store is the Women’s Basic Handgun Familiarization Course.

For 2014 we are looking at holding a class at our store every over month. We are looking at the following dates:

Feb. 19 - April 20 - June 8 - Aug. 10 - Oct. 19 - Dec. 7

 Here is a little breakdown of the class as well:

10AM-2PM

This is a beginner program designed specifically to empower women who have had little or no exposure to firearms. The course starts in the classroom with a general discussion on the familiarization of firearms, safety, and the fundamentals of marksmanship. We gradually develop the new shooter to a level where they are able to safely and confidently handle and fire their handgun in a controlled environment.

Course Topics: Firearm Familiarization, Safe Handling of Firearms, Fundamentals of Marksmanship, Weapon Presentation, Loading / Reloading, Malfunction Drills, Range Safety Rules and Range – live fire exercises.

Gear List:

Handgun (if you have your own bring it – if not, they will provide one for you along with the necessary equipment at no additional charge), holster, stiff pistol belt, three magazines, speed loaders, moon clips or speed strips for revolvers, magazine holders, wraparound eye protection, ear protection, water bottle.

Handgun, Ammunition, Eye and Ear Protection, and Range Fees are included for all women shooters. SGI has some of the best male and female firearm instructors in the country.

I would strongly encourage any woman or anyone who knows a woman interested in firearms to take this class. I intend for my fiancé to attend one of them.

To schedule a class contact Solutions Group International at: 877-844-8744 Or at:

http://shop.solutionsgroupinternational.com/products/sgi-womens-basic-handgun-course

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Let’s Talk Turkey (youth day!)

My oldest son and I start off every turkey season with a youth day hunt. Youth day turkey season begins in Virginia this year on April 5th. This is available for hunters 15 years old and younger. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/turkey.asp for more information.

Spring gobbler is a fun and exciting time of the year to be in the woods. There are all of the smells of spring, leaves are budding on the trees, and the warming weather has you feeling like winter has finally ended.  Before long we’ll be hearing sounds of big old long-beard’s gobble drumming through the woods from high above in his treetop roost just as the sun is peaking over the mountains in the distance. The evening before our big hunt we’ll be out there just before dark watching just to see where he’s going to roost for the night. We’ll be careful not to get to close! This isn’t long-beard’s first rodeo so we can’t let him bust us! With a little luck he’ll still be there in the morning. We’ll be there waiting and listening before daylight for that tell-tale sound of old long-beard’s gobble that will come quickly after my son blows on his Redhead locator call. If he is still where we put him to bed, we’ll quickly get set up and perhaps do a little soft calling just so he knows we’re interested in doing business. Too much calling and we’ll spook him. With a little patience and a lot of luck, he’ll leave his hens in the roost at daylight and head our way. You’ll know he’s almost committed by the sounds of his wings pounding the ground as he lands and the rustle of the leaves as his dance begins. Strutting as he circles ever closer in our direction with an occasional gobble to confirm he’s also interested. Hopefully he’ll get closer and closer until he’s in shotgun range and at that point I’ll whisper “take um!” and my son will release a single 20 gauge round in his direction! Success? We’ll soon find out.

Until that day there’s still homework to be done. “Homework” yes, there’s homework, but it is enjoyable and rewarding. Weeks before the season starts almost every evening we’ll get on the ATVs and cruise around our farm scouting, looking for birds and watching them. I’m making mental notes of things like what the birds are feeding on, which fields they frequent, how many toms are in the group and where they like to roost. For me, it’s homework that’ll pay off big in the upcoming weeks when I’m calling the long-beards in for one of my buddies or a guest. But for my boys, it’s spending time with dad and doing cool things that many kids will never experience.  Not to mention, this is a special time of the year for me to spend time with my sons and build some memories.

Will our homework pay off? Only time will tell. But, my son and I will be out there on opening day as well as many of my buddies with they’re sons and daughters. So I encourage all parents who have sons and daughters old enough to safely handle a firearm to take them on a turkey hunt.            

If you don’t have property of your own to hunt on, that’s not a problem. Virginia has 39 wildlife management areas (WMA) and 203,000 acres available to all licensed hunters. I’ve personally participated in many successful WMA hunts. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas for more information. 

Hope to see you out there!

Chris Krammes

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Legal Heat Coming to Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Concealed carry permit classes are returning to Bass Pro Shops Altoona!

Concealed firearms permit classes will be offered by Legal Heat starting May 3. According to the company, this one class will qualify you to obtain a permit for Iowa, but also the popular Utah and Arizona permits.

(Not from Iowa? Visit Legal Heat's web site and check out their classes around the country in over 12 states and 50 retail locations, including several Bass Pro Shops in Nebraska, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia!)

Why the Utah or Arizona permit? According to the company brochure, the Utah and Arizona concealed firearm permits are widely recognized in the U.S., and between the two of them are honored by 35 states. As you can see in this map from Legal Heat's web site, the red states do NOT honor Iowa's permit. Four of those states are Utah, Arizona, Minnesota and Washington.

Legal Heat graphic - States that reocgnize Iowa's permit

The Utah permit is recognized in Minnesota and Washington and Arizona is recognized in New Mexico, so acquiring the combination of the three permits allows you to carry in 36 different states.

Legal Heat - States recognized with combo of three permits

The 3 1/2 hour classes, from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., emphasize state and federal laws, including firearm laws and self-defense laws, from one of the largest known providers of concealed carry training in America. Class participants will receive everything they need to obtain a permit, including passport-sized photographs, a CD with several training videos, and pre-addressed envelopes. PLUS, at the Altoona classes, onsite fingerprinting services will be available for a small additional charge.

The classes are only $75. Register for the May 3 class online at www.mylegalheat.com or stop in the store at the Customer Service Desk. Keep an eye on their web site for registration opening for May 31 and June 28 classes!

Concealed Firearm Permit Classes - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
May 3
May 31
June 38

 

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Iowa Youth Turkey Season Around the Corner

by Rod Slings, Retired Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Supervisor
Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC

 

 Rod SlingsIt’s time to introduce that young hunter to turkey hunting during the Iowa youth spring wild turkey hunting season, which begins April 5, 2014.  The Iowa 2014 youth spring wild turkey hunting license is valid statewide and may be issued to any Iowa resident who is 15 years old or younger on the date the youth purchases the license. The youth license may be paid or may be free to persons eligible for free licenses. If the youth obtains a free landowner/tenant license, it will count as the one free license for which the youth’s family is eligible. 

On March 14, 2014, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed house file 2067, allowing unfilled youth tags to be used during any other wild turkey hunting season until the tag is filled or the seasons end, whichever comes first by the youth hunter. This is in effect for the 2014 spring wild turkey seasons.

An adult who possesses a valid wild turkey spring license must accompany each participating youth hunting license for one of the seasons. The adult must also have a hunting license and have paid the habitat fee (IF the adult is normally required to have a hunting license and to pay the habitat fee to hunt). The accompanying adult must not possess a firearm or bow and must be in the direct company of the youth at all times. A person may obtain only one youth turkey hunting license but may also obtain one archery-only license or one combination shotgun-or-archery license for season 4.

Iowa youth turkey season dates are April 5-13, 2014. The daily and season bag and possession limit is one bearded (or male) wild turkey. The method of take and other regulations allow that wild turkeys may be taken with shotguns, muzzle-loading shotguns with pellets no larger than number 4s or bows.  All other spring wild turkey hunting regulations for residents shall apply.

There had been some brief discussion about the requirement of wearing blaze orange to and from the hunting blind.  This proposed requirement did not become an administrative rule or law. 

HUNT SAFE!

Rod Slings is a partner with Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants. He was with the Iowa DNR for 35 years as a supervisor in the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau. He is an active proponent of hunter safety and education through international leadership, instructional, and speaking opportunities for organizations such as the International Hunter Education Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the United Nations.

__________________________

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Matching the Gear Bag to the Event

One of the best feelings in the world is being able to go to the shooting range and just plink away for a couple hours. The problem is that many times people are not aware of how heavy their equipment is until they are at the range and lugging it from the car. The right equipment is needed for each type of shooting a person could be doing in a day, whether that be testing out the new shotgun or plinking with the old .22 there is always a bag for the job. The right range bag can make all the difference when the activity is shooting.

A day out shooting pistols is definitely a favorite of many shooters. A gear bag that has many compartments for those extra magazines is a must. Also a good gear bag for the day out shooting pistols is going to need a large main compartment where ammo boxes can be stored easily. The last thing a day at the pistol range bag needs is a good storage area for the pistols themselves. A great range bag for the day out at the pistol range is the RangeMaxx® Pistol Range Bag. With its extra pockets and large central compartment this bag has everything a shooter could need for a day at the pistol range, and the bag has a convenient shoulder sling to keep the weight manageable.

bag

When the air starts to warm many people start their routine of taking the shotgun out to the range for a day shooting clays. This day at the range is a little easier to prepare for because there are fewer needed components for the shotgun. So what is really needed in a good shotgun range bag is a large compartment where different boxes of shells can be kept separate from each other, and the spent shells can be carried. A good example of a shotgun range bag is the RangeMaxx® Deluxe 4-Box Carrier. This carrier has the extra pockets needed for those pesky choke tubes and the large central compartment for a few boxes of shells and room enough for the empty shells when the shooter is finished.

bag

After a day of work and running around town isn’t it nice to just grab a few guns and head out to the range. There are gear bags specially designed for these days, where multiple firearms will be used of all different calibers. When the day calls for pistols, shotguns and rifles a gear bag needs a lot of space. The pistols need safe storage as do their magazines. The ammo needs a large area for the different boxes to be stored and there needs to be some extra space for the spent casings after the trip is over. A great bag for this all around shooting day is the RedHead® 1856 Range Bag. This bag has the space needed for the storage of multiple boxes of ammunition as well as side pockets large enough to hold pistols and their magazines, as well as room enough for the spent casings after the day is out.

bag

A day at the range is a great joy for many people. Finding the range bag of choice should not be the hassle that keeps someone from going. Here are some great choices for different kinds of days at the range. As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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Outdoor Skills Tips: Wild Turkey Hunting Shotgun Tips

Outdoor Skills Tips

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to take up wild turkey hunting, there are a lot of considerations that must be taken.  In this blog, I’ll discuss the basics in choosing a firearm, choke tube and shot shell before you venture out on your hunt.

turkeys

I’ll be honest and say that if you and I were to own the same model shotgun, with the same model choke tube and same shot shells, they probably will not pattern the same.  So, there lies the challenge.  What do you use?

Shotguns:

If hunting with a shotgun (rather than archery) you don’t necessarily have to have a “turkey shotgun”.  You can use basically any type of hunting shotgun.  Most people prefer 12 gauge but I use and prefer my Benelli M2 in 20 gauge with a 26” barrel (that thing is super light and patterns quite well!).

You can use about any shotgun, as long as the barrel is threaded so that you can remove and replace choke tubes in the barrel. Pictured below is a Beretta A300 with the choke tube partially out.

a300 threaded tube

Notice how you would use a choke wrench to remove your choke and install a turkey choke of your choice. Keep in mind that turkey shotguns don't have to have threaded tubes; if you have a fixed tube shotgun with a full choke that patterns well enough to do the job you can use it. I have a friend that uses the very first shotgun he ever owned, a Browning 30" barrel fixed choke, he has harvested several toms with this old gun. Threaded barrels allow you to use one gun for multiple reasons.

Here are some shotguns in our upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.

Berretta A300

stoeger

I particularly like this Turkey / Predator special by Remington. All setup and ready to go out of the box.

Remington Turkey Predator

Even an all black gun will work well, most shotgun manufacturers make these color options. The Benelli Super Vinci is a great choice.

benelli vinci

Choke Tubes:

It can be a bit overwhelming when you are looking at choke tubes to turkey hunt.  There are many manufacturers out there and they all want your business.  The cost range can be as cheap as $25 and can go up to nearly $100, even higher on custom shop choke tubes found on the internet. My advice on purchasing a coke tube is to go ahead and spend a little more and get a good quality choke.  I’ve tried turkey chokes in all parts of the price range.  I’m currently using an Indian Creek Black Diamond choke tube in my Benelli M2.

BlackDiamondChoke

It is a higher end choke tube and it has proven to be effective. If you arent looking to come off the hip with a large investment for your turkey choke, here are some great values in the upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.

Selectiontubes

Turkey Shot Shells:

When I talk to customers about what shot shell to use, I’ll be honest with them and say that it’s challenging and sometimes frustrating when it comes to choosing your shells.  There are many choices out there for turkey hunting shot shells.  There are different brands, different shell length, different shot sizes.

Brands:

Basically, all of the major shot shell manufacturers are making shells for wild turkey hunting.  Choosing a brand is part personal preference but it also has to do with what shoots best in your gun.  Note that my next blog will cover basics in how to pattern your shotgun.  Part of that discussion will have more info on brand choice.

Shell Length:

Turkey shot shells will have more recoil when fired than your standard dove/quail or target load will have.  Take recoil into consideration especially if you’re setting up a gun for a youth or a small framed individual.  A 3½ inch 12 gauge turkey shell most likely isn’t a good choice for them.  If someone small is using a 12 gauge, consider a 2¾ inch or maybe a 3 inch shell.  Better yet, consider that 20 gauge for a small framed individual.  As I stated earlier, I use a 20 gauge with much success and I use 3 inch shells.  That combination has a fairly light amount of recoil.  An even lighter recoil option is a 20 gauge with 2¾ inch shells.  Also remember that longer shells in length will have more pellets available to strike the target, but it will also increase the amount of felt recoil when shooting your gun.

Shot Size:

Traditional shot sizes for turkey hunting are #4’s, #5’s and #6’s.  There are some manufacturers that are now mixing different shot sizes together in each shell to produce a “blend” of shot sizes.  Below is a chart that shows the differences in diameters in each.

Turkey Shot Sizes

In considering what size to choose, keep in mind that #4’s will have fewer number of pellets inside each shell, BUT #4’s will have more energy, or knock down power at a further distance.  So, if you attempt to shoot a bird at 50 yards with shot size #4’s, you’ll have less pellets available to strike the bird in the kill zone, which is the neck and head but it will have more energy, or knock down power that the smaller #6’s.  On the other hand, if you shoot at a bird at 50 yards with #6’s, you’ll have more pellets available to hit the kill zone but will have less energy.  So, it comes down to preference in knock down power at further distances or more pellets at shorter distances.

pattern

To help determine what size shot to use in your gun, it’s VERY important to take the time and buy a few different brands and a few different shot sizes “pattern” your gun.  To pattern your gun, you’ll set up paper targets and shoot at different distances to determine what shoots best in the set up you’re considering in you gun. If you prefer an actual turkey to shoot at we sell these lifelike Redhead 12" targets.

turkeytarget

  • Special dual-color, flake off technology makes it easy to pattern your shotgun for turkey season
  • Flake off technology provides an explosion of color that can be seen from great distances
  • Kill area shots show florescent green behind turkey image
  • Misses show bright white behind red background
  • Self adhesive to stick to almost any backstop
  • 12'' turkey head image
  • 10 targets to a pack

 Patterning your gun can be come fairly expensive, but it will be worth it in the long run.  if you plan to take your wild turkey hunting seriously and take it to the next level.  If you’ve got a friend willing to pitch in, you can share some of the expense if you both shoot the same gauge shotgun.  You and your buddy can pitch in to buy a few different brands and different sizes of shot shells and go out and pattern your gun to see what shoots best in each or your firearms.  In my next blog, I’ll discuss tips for consideration when you go out to “pattern your shotgun”.

Happy Hunting!

~Richard Plonk

Hunting Lead

 

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Why Air Guns?

by Wes Gudenkauf, Hunting Lead, Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Over the past year or so, as we all know, rimfire ammunition has been in short supply. With spring fast approaching, everyone is ready to get outside to do some shooting. An air rifle makes a great alternative to the never-ending search for .22 Long Rifle.

An air gun can come in just about any configuration that a person could want. From the beginner's Daisy Red Ryder to Gamo Whisper Fusion and even on to Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) rifles capable of extreme accuracy, better than their rimfire relatives, at only a fraction of the cost to shoot. Calibers include .177, .20, .22, and .25, just to name the most common. 

  • Multi-pump rifles. These are common just about anywhere that sells air guns, ranging from around $50 to $100. They generally shoot dual ammo, meaning pellets or BBs, in .177 caliber. These are a great option for backyard can plinking or the occasional pigeon hunt at close range. However, the Benjamin 392 is a .22 caliber that I think stands out in this category.  It fires a .22 caliber Rabbit in the crosshairspellet at 950 fps (feet per second) with eight pumps and is extremely accurate at ranges of 20-30 yards. At a price of $189.99, it is at the top of its class. 
  • The next step up will be the single-stroke, spring gun. These are the guns like the Gamo Silent Cat all the way up to their Varmint Hunter. These guns are also usually in .177 or .22 caliber, but do not shoot BBs. They can fire anywhere from 900 all the way up to 1450 fps. Yes, that's faster than a .22 Long Rifle. These are popular for pest control under 40 yards, and can be extremely accurate with the right pellet. 
  • Most manufacturers are developing Nitrogen Piston (NP) guns as well. Contrary to popular belief, some of the spring guns I talked about above are actually quite loud, with decibel readings up over 100 decibels. A .22 Long Rifle operates at 134 decibels with standard 1200 fps ammo. With that being said, even the loudest air gun is still considerably quieter than a .22. Just don't be deceived when an air rifle is advertised to be "quiet." The advantage to a Nitrogen Piston gun over a spring-operated is that the NP guns are about 20% quieter. With a .22 caliber pellet, the Benjamin Trail NP can operate at 950 feet per second -- more than enough energy to dispatch squirrels and other varmints!
  • The final category are the PCP or Pre-Charged Pneumatic. They have an internal reservoir that is filled with either CO2 or High Pressure Air (HPA) from a paintball tank, scuba tank, or high-pressure pump. Once these guns are filled, they provide anywhere from 20 shots in a .25 caliber capable of taking down coyotes less than 50 yards, to 70 shots in .177 caliber, making it easy to fill the rifle up with air for an afternoon of hunting or an hour at the range honing your shooting skills. Prices range anywhere from $120-$500 for commercially available rifles, like the Crosman RepeatAir 1077 with a 12 round rotary mag, and, just like regular firearms, the sky is the limit. Pre-Charged rifles often come with a shrouded barrel, which acts to muffle the report of the rifle. These guns can be so quiet you may wonder if they even went off until you see the target fall. 

Pellets for these rifles usually run about $12-$15 for 500, with more or less expensive varieties available. With that being said, it's about half the cost of .22 long rifle and they're always available. 

One last thing about the air gun - they might be neighbor friendly. Many cities allow the use of air guns within city limits. Please check with your local law enforcement before air gunning in city limits. 

Happy Shooting!

______________

Wes has been shooting and hunting since he was seven and, like most other hunters, his first rifle was a pellet rifle. He always enjoyed airgun hunting and recently became involved with the sport again. Wes is a competitive shooter in trap and skeet, USPSA (United States Pistol Shooters Association) open class, and IDPA (International Defense Pistol Association).

 

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Youth Hunt For Wild Turkey

The Youth Wild Turkey Hunt weekend will be held April 26th and April 27th.  This a great way for junior hunters to spend time in the field with experienced adult hunters.  They gain knowledge and learn to become to safe and responsible.  Here are a few details from the DEC to follow:

Youth ages 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of age, holding a hunting license and a turkey permit may participate.

All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult as required by law for a junior hunter.

a.  Youth 12 or 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 21 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.

b.  Youth 14 or 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 18 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.

c.  The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit.  He or She may assist the youth hunter (including calling), but may not carry a firearm or longbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt.

d.  The youth hunt is for spring turkey hunting only and is a two day weekend hunt.  The youth hunt will always precede the start of the regular season by at least 3 days.  Check the turkey season page www.dec.ny.gov or the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide for season dates.

e.  The youth turkey hunting is open in all of upstate New York (north of the Bronz-Westchester County boundary) and Suffolk County.  Shooting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to noon.

f.  The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird.  This bird becomes part of the youth's regular season bag limit of two bearded birds.  A second bird may be taken in upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) beginning May 1st.

g.  All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

 

Staff Safe Out There and Have A Great Time !

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator

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Giving Back

By: Jerry Costabile

On February 8th, I was part of a “Learn to Hunt Rabbits” program that was put on by the Wisconsin DNR, at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville, Wisconsin.

The hunt was put on by the Richard Bong Naturalist Association and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It was held on the park property, which has hundreds of acres of hunting open to the public. I know for a fact that the area we were going to hunt is loaded with rabbits, and I was just as excited as if I were going to hunt! There were five hunters and five mentors. The hunters for the day were Ben, Nathan, Hunter, Annie and Jay. Our Mentors for the day were Adam, Brandon, Michael, my son Kyle and myself.

Being a certified Hunter Education Instructor, I was asked to teach a firearm safety class and a class on hunting rabbits. Along with my classes, there would be classes on state laws and regulations that would be instructed by two state Conservation Wardens, Brandon Smith and Michael Katzenberg. There was a class on the biology of rabbits by Adam Holcomb from the Naturalist Association.

We had a special guest speaker, Mike Corbett, on hunting with beagles. Mike was to bring a really special guest, but because of the snow depth, we didn’t get to meet his dog, Nugget. He still gave a great presentation with a film of an actual rabbit hunt with Beagles.

After a lunch provided by the Naturalist Association, we were ready to hunt! After everyone was given a blaze orange vest, complements of the Naturalist Association, and blaze orange hat, complements of Bass Pro Shops, Gurnee, IL, we were off! I was concerned about the new snow on top of the old snow, and the ability to hunt in a way that we could flush the rabbits to the hunters that were positioned ahead and in safe locations. Well when we got to the first area to be hunted, the snow was deep; I was in snow up to my mid thighs! It was all that we could do to just get thru the drifts and get to the cover. The rabbits were there, lots and lots of tracks and rabbit m&m’s (droppings), but it was very difficult to get into the thickest cover where there was less snow. This is where all of the fresh sign lead to and we were not going to get there, too much snow. The effort was there, but the opportunities were not.

A group decision was made to go back to the classroom for a short break and rehydration and then to head to another location. The snow was already taking its toll on us, we only hunted for about an hour and we looked like we had been at it all day!

When we headed out for round two, I was feeling a little disappointed because with the conditions, I didn’t think our opportunities would be many if any. Upon arriving to our hunting destination, we grouped up and made the walk a few hundred yards back to a heavy brush covered area that had good rabbit sign everywhere. I could see that if we were going to see a rabbit, this was the spot! While everyone was getting into position to start, I could see a very fresh set of tracks that led into the cover we were about to get into. I put Nathan, my hunter, into a good position to see and it was open enough that if Bugs showed himself, he would get a shot. Our “dogs” Kyle and Ben, were just about to the brush that the fresh tracks led into and I told Nathan “Be ready” and sure enough, out he came, the first rabbit of the day! Nathan did a great job getting his gun up and because of the rabbit’s speed, a very ethical decision not to shoot. It just wasn’t a good shot opportunity and because of the deep snow, I knew that the rabbit wouldn’t go far and might give us another chance. As we moved to get ahead of the “dogs”, there was a shot off to our right. It might have been the same rabbit, but we weren’t sure so we kept moving ahead. Once Nathan and I got to an area that gave us a good vantage point and a safe location, we got ready only to see the guys walking up to us and no rabbit ahead of them.

Well we regrouped with the others and found out that Annie got the shot, but the rabbit got away! We made our way to the nature center took some pictures, shook hands and said good buy. I was hoping to demonstrate field dressing and share a couple of recipes, but the rabbits at Bong Recreation Area survived the first “Learn to Hunt Rabbits”.

On the way home, I had some mixed emotions, I was a little disappointed because I am usually successful at rabbit hunting and really wanted the day to be a great memory for our first time hunters. But I was also very proud of the fact that maybe, just maybe, I helped in a small way to keep a tradition alive. I reflected on the introduction to the sport to my boys and the fun we had, even when the rabbits were better than we were. I am now completely into the sportsman stage of my outdoor life, this is where the success is based on the experience, the memories, the friendships and the feelings of satisfaction of just being able to show others why I love what has been created for us all, the great outdoors.

There is something special in giving back to something that has rewarded you with so much. From teaching others, to protecting the resources, I know that for the rest of my days afield, it won’t be about what I harvest, but about what I can do to give back.

 

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More Fish Donation Month

Did You Know?NFWF
  • More Americans fish than play basketball (24.0 million) and football (8.9 million) combined.
  • The number of jobs supported by anglers could employ all attendees of the last seven Super Bowls – TWICE!
  • Fishing as a leisure-time activity ranks higher than playing golf, target shooting, hunting with firearms, backpacking and wilderness camping, baseball, mountain biking and skiing.

(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)

During February Bass Pro Shops sponsors the More Fish Donation Campaign. For a $2 donation, your name is entered for a chance to win a $500 Bass Pro Shops gift card. But what IS the More Fish campaign and how is your $2 helping?

The More Fish Campaign monies collected go towards the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.  This nationwide plan was established to protect, restore, and enhance our country's fisheries.  The plan was led by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies around the country, state offices, the Department of Commerce and over 700 federal, state, and non-governmental entities, including Bass Pro Shops. 

The plan established several partnerships around the country based on geographic location, key fish species, or aquatic life.  Iowa is effected by three of the partnerships: the Driftless Area Restoration Initiative, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, and the Fishers and Farmers Partnership. These three groups have also come together with three of the other National Plan partnerships to create the Midwest Fish Habitat Partnership. 

Visit the links above and check out the Plan's and various Partnerships' goals, objectives, and some of the projects completed and in progress.

jumping bassStop in to Bass Pro Shops Altoona and make your $2 donation to help keep our streams, rivers, and habitat healthy for fish and keep our next generation fishing!

  •  More freshwater anglers prefer largemouth bass (52%), followed by panfish (28%).
  •  Most fishing tackle purchases include lures (46%), followed by terminal tackle (26%) then fishing line (24%).
(Statistics from the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, 2nd Edition)
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A Fine Nine: Beretta 92

So over the past while a lot more people have showed interest in becoming gun owners. One of my good friends has been thinking about it more and more and is even looking at something in a 9mm. It appears that more and more people care about having an external safety than I had imagined, so that helped me choose this month’s Fine Nine: The Beretta 92.

Now when I was looking at getting a gun, this was a serious contender. When these were introduced, military and law enforcement adopted them. The United States switched from the 1911 .45ACP platform to these. Ever seen Die Hard? OFCOURSE YOU HAVE! John McClane carried a Beretta.

Beretta has built quite the name for themselves in the gun industry. And rightly so since they were found in 1526! This Italian gun manufacturer has a strong following from the precision and quality work that they put into their firearms. The Beretta name contains many other names within itself. Also in the Beretta family tree are such brands as: Tikka, SAKO, Stoeger, Uberti, Franchi and Benelli.

Now since its introduction the Beretta 92 has gone through changes and name modifications. People know this platform by different names (our military version is commonly known as the M9) but I am talking about the platform of the 92.

This firearm holds very nicely in ones hands. This is good because couples can easily transition between each other when firing the gun. It points extremely well. (This refers to the relation of ease of sight alignment and placement of a shot.) This is something a buddy and myself really enjoy about the firearm. Since the magazine is double stacked it can hold a high capacity of rounds.

Now there are some people that will tell you that the Italian made models are much nicer than the others, and there are some people that it doesn’t matter because a firearm is only a tool. I could see points for both sides of the argument, just know that the Italian made model will come with a higher price.

This is a good choice for a first time gun owner who is looking for something for both target shooting and home defense. Its full size makes any recoil barely noticeable. We all know that if someone is scared by the recoil of a gun that they may never want to shoot again, which is bad for everyone. Also this firearm has an external safety that is well noticeable. While it is not smart to completely rely on a mechanical safety (as anything can fail) it does help ease the mind.

The latest model of this firearm that has made a big splash is the Beretta 92A1. This model took the best aspects of the 92 model and the 92FS model and put them together. It comes with three 17 round magazines (9mm), removable front sight (making work being done much easier), rounded trigger guard, single-piece captive recoil spring assembly, internal recoil buffer and the one thing that has been missing for a while: accessory rail system!

My best friend out in Denver bought this gun not too long ago and absolutely loves it. He has let me know several times that if I were to get it my little lady would love it because his little lady loves it.

Now I would not call this boasting, but Beretta has some pretty good statistics on their side on their site:

BERETTA U.S.A. RELIABILITY AND DURABILITY STATISTICS FOR THE BERETTA 9mm PISTOL.
• The average reliability of all M9 pistols tested at Beretta U.S.A. is 17,500 rounds without a stoppage. 
• During one test of twelve pistols fired at Beretta U.S.A. before Army supervision, Beretta-made M9 pistols shot 168,000 rounds without a single malfunction. 
• The Beretta 9mm pistol was the most reliable of all pistols tested in the 1984 competition which resulted in the award of the M9 contract to Beretta. 
• Two-thirds of all M9 pistols endurance tested at Beretta U.S.A. fired 5,000 rounds without a single mal function or, at most, with only one malfunction. 
• The average durability of Beretta M9 slides is over 35,000 rounds, the point at which U.S. Army testing ceases. 
• The average durability of M9 frames is over 30,000 rounds. The average durability of M9 locking blocks is 22,000 rounds.

So now you have heard a little bit more about this fine handgun from both me and the maker! In the wise words of John McClane: “Yippee-ki-yay!” Giddy Up!!

Previous Nines:

Basics

Glock 19

S&W M&P

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Ever wished to shoot 22LR ammo with no limit to see which fits best? Here is one result!

Every firearm owner wishes they could shoot and train without limits, but recent ammo prices and availability, range fees, and other economical obstacles continuously affect the opportunity to pursue their passion.   It’s just not as simple as it was years ago, when firearms, whether for sport or hunting purposes, were considered a part of everyday life.  One solution to this is the simple installation of the CMMG AR Conversion kit.  This is a drop-in conversion bolt, with included magazine, that will get you putting .22lr downrange in just minutes!  In the desire to provide information to the consumer on this product, it was tested in a direct-impingement AR15, fitted with a mid-length gas system, free-floated barrel, collapsible stock, and EOTech sight.     

ammo

            The kit tested was the Bravo model.  Now, expectations were actually quite low, I’ll admit.  I was prepared for jams, mis-feeds, mis-fires, and failures to eject.  I had a healthy variety of .22lr ammo; everything from budget, target, hunting and the costlier premium ammo from a multitude of manufacturers.  Given my extensive firearms knowledge, I decided the only unbiased way of reviewing the product would be to have someone with a different perspective fire a few hundred rounds, while I observed, and took notes of every comment and reaction…but more importantly, I had the duty of providing plenty of loaded magazines!  With that, I elected my wife to run the actual test, which would give me a great perspective from a female’s point of view, with familiarization of the platform.

gun

            The test was begun by loading 10 rounds of every different type/brand of ammunition on hand into the magazine.  Five rounds would be fired in slow fire, and the last five would be fired in rapid mode.  The test would conclude with a re-shoot of those rounds we found borderline acceptable, or unpleasant, and those we felt were the best performers.

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            Federal American Eagle, Winchester Super X, CCI Mini-Mag all performed well, with no jams, or failures to eject.

            CCI LR22, CCI STINGER, CCI LR HP, and Winchester Western all performed exceptionally well! There were many ‘wows,’ and praise as to how smooth it cycled, over and over.  Accuracy also seemed to be slightly better with the CCI brand ammunition.  

            Remington 22 Target, Remington 22 Viper, and Remington Thunderbolt came in as the most unpleasant, in regards to smell, perceived recoil, gas blowback, and particulate that seemed to foul shooter’s face.  Recoil on the Viper was also noted as being the most intense, however, still only a fraction of the recoil of your standard .223/5.56.

            Magazines where then loaded to the max, and fired from different shooting positions, and while moving.  Not one mechanical issue was noted, and there were zero failures one could classify as ‘catastrophic’ in a self-defense, combat, or training situation.

 

            The overall impression was a very positive one.  The product was very simple to install.  Anyone with a very primitive understanding of the AR system can easily open their rifle, remove the original bolt carrier group, and simply drop the CMMG Conversion Kit right in! No tools are required.  The system is low-noise, low-recoil, and can easily reduce your investment on ammunition.  50 rounds of decent .223/5.56 will run you about $25 on today’s market; while a box of .22LR will set you back five dollars on the average, and weigh significantly less.  The round is already a proven small game load and plinkster, and in addition to the AR’s versatility plus the adaptability to smaller framed shooters, you can count on this add-on being perfect for youth and smaller statured shooters looking to spice up their training with some ‘tactical’ flavor. 

The only downside was the general foul nature of .22lr ammunition.  It does ultimately mean that you will be cleaning more often than usual, but the lower muzzle velocities will prolong the life of any profile barrel, military or commercial.

Lower priced ammunition will only result in positive outcomes; more range time, training, and most importantly; safe fun on the range that any aged and size shooter can appreciate.  The CMMG AR Conversion kit is a great tool seasoned vets can add to their training regiment, as well as instructors, parents, and significant others, who are looking to maintain that edge, teach a new student who has never handled a firearm, or introduce their family member to a lifetime of responsible shooting.

Abelardo Román

Hunting Team Leader

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A Fine Nine: Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm

Let’s squeeze the trigger and jump right into the next Fine Nine blog! This month I have chosen an American company to cover and the fine 9mm pistol they are producing. Smith & Wesson is a renowned gun manufacturer. Ever since Dirty Harry uttered the famous phrase about his revolver, they have become a part of popular culture. Smith & Wesson was just even voted to be amongst the most patriotic companies in the U.S. and was the only firearms company in that list as well.

The specific handgun I will be covering is the M&P 9mm (Full-size). They do offer this handgun in different calibers and different sizes, but I will just be focusing on this one. The M&P stands for Military and Police, recognizing the companies long history with those groups. This series was introduced in 2005 and has been extremely popular ever since.

It is a polymer-framed pistol and considered very similar to Glocks. Many will state that Smith and Wesson had the chance to look at what Glock had done over the years and make improvements for their platform. They would be correct and ever since they launched the M&P, Smith and Wesson have been slowly converting Glock owners over.

There are several notable differences between the two firearms so we will compare this month’s Fine Nine to last month’s (the Glock 19). One of the biggest differences is the grip. Where the Glock 19 has a boxier grip, the M&P9 has a much more ergonomic grip. It also comes with three different sized back-straps that can be changed out depending on one’s preference.

The M&P9 is larger than the Glock 19. The M&P9 is 7.63 inches long, with a 4.25 inch barrel, 5.5 inches tall, 1.2 inches thick and weighs 24 ounces without the magazine in. The magazine holds 17 rounds of 9mm and can have another round in the chamber at the same time.

Just like the Glock 19, there is no external safety on the standard M&P9. Some models are offered with an external thumb safety if that is something desired. Like discussed last month there is good and bad things about having no external safety on a handgun. The main safety of the M&P9 is the trigger safety.

The M&P9 also comes standard with a Picatinny rail and loaded chamber indicator. Also the M&P9 is ambidextrous and can have the parts that need to  be changed for a left-handed shooter done so quite easily.

Like most polymer-framed handguns, the M&P9 breaks down to several main pieces which makes it very easy to take care of and clean. Consumers and the market definitely took the M&P series quick and so there is a massive amount of information, opinions and products available for the firearms.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and hold a Smith and Wesson M&P 9, and if you don’t like how it fits in your hand just remember… you have two more back-straps to try out!

A Slow Draw is a Quick Way to Join the Angels! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fine Nines

Glock 19

Basics

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Seasons End, Maintenance Begins

Rod Slings Guest Blog by Rod Slings, Retired Iowa DNR Hunter Education Administrator

 

As the hunting seasons come to an end, it’s time again to store all your equipment. As always, safety is number one for every hunter and gun owner. Make sure your firearm is pointed in a safe direction, check to make sure it’s unloaded, then it’s ready to be cleaned. Even if you haven’t fired it, it’s important to give it a quick cleaning. Moisture, dirt, and salt from your hands can all have a long-term impact on the condition of your firearms. 

Each year, somewhere, someone forgets to unload his or her muzzleloader. Incidents can happen when you think the muzzleloader is empty and place another “load” on top of the load that was left…last hunting season. It’s never good when you’re expecting a bang and BOOM happens instead. It can cause severe injury or even death by not making sure your muzzleloader is empty before you load it up again. Powder residue will cause corrosion and have a major effect, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on proper cleaning.

Gun storage is very much a huge responsibility for all hunters. Make sure you use trigger locks or cable locks, and lock them in a gun cabinet or gun safe. This keeps your firearms from the curious, young and old, or even the burglar that may break into your house. There are all kinds of gun storage products available to help you be a responsible gun owner.

Opinions differ on storing “muzzle up or muzzle down” in your gun safe or locker. After cleaning oil is used in the barrel, with muzzle up the excess could run down into the end of your wood stock and cause the wood fibers to expand.  This is due to the oil saturating and working its way down where the metal meets the stock. This is not an issue with the newer composite stocks or other non-porous stocks. Muzzle down will eliminate this from occurring. No matter what, always make sure you keep the firearms pointed in a safe direction when placing them in or removing them from locked storage. Remember:  Treat every firearm as if it were loaded ALWAYS!

Ammunition should be stored in a locked container separate from the firearms. This safety practice adds another layer to your firearm storage safety protocol.

Don’t forget to remove batteries from trail cameras, range finders, GPS units and other battery-powered hunting equipment. Storage of arrows and archery equipment requires an edge of safety, too!

Until you’re ready to go target practice, shoot some trap or skeet, or are preparing for spring turkey season, these steps will keep you, your family, and others stay safe!

It’s always great to break out your equipment in the fall and have everything ready to be inspected for another Rod Slingsyear…not to have rust, corrosion, or other issues from not practicing due-diligence now. 

Always focus on safe gun handling and, please, hunt SAFE!

__________________________

Rod Slings is a partner with Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants. He was with the Iowa DNR for 35 years as a supervisor in the DNR's Law Enforcement Bureau. He is an active proponent of hunter safety and education through international leadership, instructional, and speaking opportunities for organizations such as the International Hunter Education Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the United Nations.

__________________________

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Hot Shot Shooters

Hot Shot Shooters

By: Katie Cook

Hot Shot Shooters is an all woman’s firearms club that meets at Bass Pro Shops in Gurnee, Illinois. One of our goals is to teach women how to become more proficient shooters and responsible firearm owners.  Our Mission is “To Get More Women Involved!”

Several of our members took an NRA Basic Pistol Class with Bill Worth and wanted to find like minded women to enjoy shooting and learning about firearms. Bill told them to start a group. One of the ladies finally organized our first meeting. Bill sent out an email asking if we were interested in a ladies shooting club. 25-30 women showed up at the first meeting. Our first meeting was basically to ask what we wanted from this group and what we wanted to experience. A few meetings later, we brainstormed over names and voted. Some were very clever and we debated over a few before we decided on Hot Shot Shooters. Our Email list is at 50 women now and constantly growing.

All ladies are welcome and encouraged to attend our meetings and join Hot Shot Shooters. Our next meeting is Tuesday January 21St at 6pm on the 3rd floor of the range at Bass Pro Shop Gurnee.

Also check us out on FaceBook!  www.facebook.com/HotShotShooters

 

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Game Changers: Pope and Young Club

So way back in the day most hunting of animals was through projectile weaponry. This includes slings, spears and bows. Archery has been a part of human culture and society for centuries. Bows changed the battlefield and now have changed how we connect with the outdoors. It is an important heritage and sport that must be kept going. Recent films have spurred even more interest in the sport for the youth, and when parents learn about the possibility of archery-scholarships they see another plus to getting their children involved.

Way back in the day of these Game Changers blogs, I covered the Boone and Crockett Club. This club was established to help protect our natural resources, ensure fair chase practice and create a way to score animals taken. Now while we are all hunters and appreciators of the wonderful wilderness we have in this world, there of course are firearm hunters and archery hunters. From this another similar but archery only club was formed, the Pope and Young Club.

The P&Y Club patterned themselves off of the B&C Club and it can be seen in their practices, fundamentals, goals and even logos. P&Y Club was founded in 1961. “The Club advocates and encourages responsible bowhunting by promoting quality, fair chase hunting, and sound conservation practices. Today it fosters and nourishes bowhunting excellence and acts in the best interest of our bowhunting heritage everywhere. The Club promotes and participates in improving sound wildlife conservation and wise use of our natural resources.”

Now the Boone and Crockett Club can easily be figured out who it was named after. And if not, let me give you a hint: Fess Parker portrayed both of these American legends on television and both of their first names begin with “D”. P&Y Club was named after Dr. Saxton Pope and Arthur Young. These two were avid bowhunters in the early 20th century. Their adventures brought this lost sport back to national attention.

The P&Y Club has their own method of scoring animals taken by bow and arrow. They gather this information and after two years release it in their records book. Every time one of these books is released, avid bowhunters pick one up to see the new record animals taken. Usually when scoring animals you will see either a B&C or Y&C score which helps let you know what method of hunting was used to take that animal. Along with seeing the new records set, archers get new inspiration to go out and try and beat the new records! They do a good job breaking down how to reach these records on their site. They also are sure to have two different systems for measuring as there are typical and non-typical antlered animals out there.

Now the club takes a pretty powerful stance on crossbows when it comes to archery. They are completely anti-crossbow and will not score any animal taken in such manner. They believe that crossbows should be restricted to firearm hunting seasons. This has gotten the club some flak, but also appreciation from their members. Archery is a purity kind of pursuit. They also have an incredible Museum of Bowhunting at their headquarters in Minnesota!

So if you are an archer and are not yet a member, you should really look into joining. And even if you don’t hunt and want to help, the Pope and Young Club is heavily involved with programs to help improve our wilderness.

Oh and fun fact, the husband in our store’s Pro Hunting Team (Corky) has the world record for bison!

Like a Kitten Hoppin’ over a Caterpillar! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Game Changers:

Ansel Adams

Teddy Roosevelt

Fred Bear

Boone and Crockett Club

NWTF and DU

Henry David Thoreau

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Check It Out List: Range Time

Well I made a little New Year’s Resolution and it was to simply do more. I have truly been blessed with all the amazing people in my life, but unfortunately have not been able to spend much time with them. So 2014 is going to be a year of just doing more. And that of course is going to mean some more trips to the range!

Now a lot of my families own firearms and shoot, but not everyone does. So it will be my pleasure to share this passion of mine with them (and help them relieve stress, which shooting is one of the best ways to do so). Safety will of course be my first priority, but there are a number of other things to consider when it comes to going to the range, which makes it the topic of this month’s Check It Out List blog.

Range-Time Items:

Firearm(s)

Proper Ammunition

Hearing Protection

Eye Protection

Targets

Case

Range-Time Bag

Gun Tool

So let us break that down a little bit more. For the firearms, you should know what kind of shooting you are going to be doing. (Pistol practice, trap and skeet, sighting in a hunting rifle, etc.) That will also dictate the kind of ammo you are going to bring. You really don’t need to bring the shotgun shells when dialing in that new Vortex 4-16x44 on your old Remington 700. Also certain ranges have restrictions on what ammo can be fired there, so it is always best to call before hand and check.

    

I do not know of a firing range where eye and ear protection is not necessary and would not want to visit one that is lax on this. Always have a few sets of “eyes and ears” in your bag at all times. Also have a variety of styles of protection for people. It is not a bad idea to have both foam plugs and over-the-ear hearing protection. This way people can have their choice or even double up if they have sensitive ears.

A nice range-bag is great as many come with multiple compartments. This is nice for storing and separating items. Always be sure to load the right ammo with the right firearm. A gun tool is nice in case you need to make a quick little fix or such. Also be sure to have a number of targets as they will need to be replaced.

And let me dish a little on a couple pet peeves of my own when it comes to range-time.

First… if you have a number of pistols out that are different calibers; just store the ones not in use at that moment. I personally can’t stand seeing a pile of firearms along with a pile of magazines that is all next to a stack of different ammo. Somewhere you will make a mistake and try and load the wrong ammo or wrong magazine or so on.

Second… if you are taking a new shooter out for their first time: be kind. It is your responsibility as a gun-owner to ensure everyone has a safe and fun time. I was just at the range and heard a group behind me discussing rifles, so I joined the conversation. The adult male in the group was talking about having a younger girl shoot a .270Win or .30-06Sprg at the range. (Mind you this was an indoor range that goes to about 75 feet out, so not really a long-range rifle setup.) Hearing this I assumed she was a seasoned shooter as those calibers can pack a nice punch, but naw this was her first time. She was as lean as a desert grasshopper and even admitted to being intimidated by everything. And “the chaperone” was going to have her shoot a .30-06?! I don’t think so! So I had her join my fiancé and I for a quick little lesson. I took her over importance of eye and ear protection, safe handling of a firearm and proper operation of one. The firearm I had her shoot was a lighter caliber out of a heavy revolver so the kick was minimal. What do ya know? She had a great time and was much less intimidated by everything. This means that she would not be scared of guns and might even come back!

Like most things in life, take the time to plan ahead for the little stuff. There is nothing wrong with double-checking either!

Grinnin’ Like a Possum Eatin’ a Yella Jacket! Giddy-Up!

Checked-Lists

Picnics

Gun Cleaning

Game Care

First Aid

Day Pack

Trip Prep

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