It’s National Shooting Sports Month | Sports

Every summer, when the conversations around town start turning into back-to-school plans and soccer practices, I remember that it’s also time to start practicing for my next season: hunting season.

I hunt regularly throughout the season. From the beginning of the season until the bell rings, which means another season is closed and on the books, I enjoy hunting squirrels with my dogs, hunting deer with my son and family, the occasional big game out west, and the highland game birds. Each type of hunting is unique and requires a different skill set when it comes to shooting.

As I get older, some muscle memory kicks in and repeats itself every year, while father time influences my reactions, particularly my hand-eye coordination and just takes more and more practice. Wing shot, for example: If I don’t spend some time on the clay court, to be honest, I’m not going to perform well on the field. It seems like every year, my eyes get a little worse and my muscle memory of swinging a shotgun gets a little harder.

Fortunately, living in West Virginia, we are fortunate to have excellent shooting ranges and places to practice. The real key is to remember and take the time to practice like you’re going to play (sorry for the soccer analogy, but I’m excited for the season to start).

To serve myself and you, my dear readers, I thought it was timely and relevant to share a recent news from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the Firearms Industry Trade Association, wants to remind us that they are celebrating National Shooting Sports Month in August, a month-long recognition of the positive impacts that hunting and recreational target shooting for millions of Americans.

Powered by the NSSF, National Shooting Sports Month encourages newcomers and experienced gun owners and hunters to visit a local shooting range with their pistol, rifle or shotgun to enjoy the sports of target shooting, which has more than 56 million adult and youth participants. Everyone is encouraged to invite a guest with them to introduce them to responsible firearm ownership.

“National Shooting Sports Month is the recognition and celebration of the vital contributions of recreational target shooting, hunting and responsible gun ownership,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi. “It is also a month in which we recognize the contributions that the firearms industry makes to communities, states and our nation. This is a $70 billion industry that provides more than 375,000 jobs. Our industry has welcomed an increasing number of women and minority gun owners. We are proud to welcome responsible gun owners from all walks of life to celebrate our shared heritage.”

Several of America’s Governors have signed official state proclamations showing their support for National Shooting Sports Month, recognizing the vital role the firearms and ammunition industry plays within their respective states. The governors highlighted the contributions of job creation, economic impact and conservation efforts through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax payments paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers.

In our state, West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice celebrated the sporting traditions of hunting and shooting by signing an official proclamation. In West Virginia, Governor Justice highlighted the industry’s $194 million economic impact, including employment for more than 1,600 West Virginians. More than $6.8 million Pittman-Robertson dollars went to West Virginia in 2020 to help with wildlife management and conservation projects.

I hope you too are looking forward to the opening of hunting seasons soon in our hills and valleys. If you get the chance, hit the range earlier and remember to practice how you play.