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Rondinelli: Shooting clubs offer shot to bond

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, March 12, 2016 8:33 p.m

Boy, what a whiff of spring.

I’ve never been one to let gray skies and brown woods bother me much, though they do get to a lot of people. That’s especially understandable in Pittsburgh, where the fierce winters can be long and cold. This winter is an exception, though, with unusually nice days — and even weeks — for breaks during this winter’s months.

We probably will get blasted again at least once, but this week certainly has been another buffer.

Sitting in the fresh air with the sun shining makes one want to dig out a good gun magazine, clean and inspect a shotgun, count shells and plan for some clay bird shooting dates. This is a lull in between hunting seasons and a good time to consider some practice. That’s enough to lift spirits.

Shooting clubs in the region continue to be up and down. At least one club continues to have a cloud over it, a cloud called housing development. Another has been involved in a legal battle over a lead allegation. Some have full memberships, thanks largely to pistol shooters, while others are in stark need of members. A few still hold game dinners.

Some clubs have problems with lack of interest in activities and maintenance, especially with the younger crowd. A few still have youth shoots and get help for kids and from kids, but those numbers are not optimal at most clubs.

League shoots have been abbreviated and others are planning that way. One example: the Golden Triangle skeet league just ended a shortened season that hardly inspired competition. It suffers from a decline in participating clubs. Two or three have dropped out in recent years, and no inspiration or leadership has appeared to boost any of them to get back into the league.

The West Penn trap league just announced a six-shoot season, beginning March 20. Those registered shoots are down from 11 last year. The league feels too many people couldn’t commit to the longer season, so it cut back in the hopes that more will participate without having so many 100-target registered shoots.

The Mon Valley trap league will start April 20 for 20 50-target shoots. That is the same number as last season.

I’m fortunate to sit in once a week with a solid group of veteran shooters who know the region and its history and offer solid opinions on anything from a variety of guns to reloading tips to shooting advice. They’ve hunted and shot targets here and about for decades. Their talk keeps other shooters in the mood.

But not enough camaraderie exists everywhere. Families and vacations take a toll. Not enough new, younger people seem to be attracted to the sport.

And that’s a shame. It’s missing an opportunity, kind of like wishing you had talked more with your grandmother about her cooking secrets or your dad’s ability to build or repair something. Once they’re gone, details are difficult to retrieve.

Experiencing shooting of all kinds and learning from the guys who do it are easily available.

Perhaps this is where the clubs should get together and make their activities more widely known.

One would think with all of the modern, sleek guns advertised, the plethora of magazines covering every aspect of hunting and shooting, and the number of clubs available — including at Seven Springs, Nemacolin and Hunting Hills — that more people would get the urge.

Even so, a lot of activity exists and the weather likely will help inspire some new outings.

You never know what information will develop, and I hope to let you know more from the region.

Charles Rondinelli is a freelance writer. Reach him at straightshooter@tribweb.com.

Categories: Outdoors
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