Commission Chair David Gantt condescendingly said he thinks it is best that shooting ranges are privately funded. First, there are some of us who also think the arts should be privately funded. It’s our tax money too. Second, shooters and gun owners are constituents as much as those that enjoy the arts. I haven’t researched it, but my suspicion is there are more gun owners and shooters in Buncombe County than those that appreciate the arts. Are we not important?
Let’s address the issue of private versus government funding. I heard a radio host say he thought the government shouldn’t be in the business of running shooting ranges. Actually, the government from county to federal has a very long history of operating public shooting facilities. Look at our neighbors in South Carolina which has full shooting sports complexes throughout the state. At the Federal level, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) just opened a shooting complex in Talladega, AL for all the shooting disciplines: pistol, rifle, and sporting clays for shotguns. Just two months ago Cleveland County and the WRC opened a shooting sports complex near Cherryville that again supports all shooting sports to include archery. For the uninformed and ignorant politicians that is one of the fundamental purposes of the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1938. Do your own research.
Just as importantly, our elected leaders need to view this responsibility as a safety issue. Sherriff Van Duncan recently said in a television interview that his office is processing twice the number of concealed carry permits as they did last year. We always encourage concealed carry permit holders to practice with their handgun to remain proficient if it is ever used. Our commissioners, whether they agree with gun ownership or not, should share with that desire for a safe citizenry. Finding land and helping fund a shooting sports complex with the WRC will show that commitment to safety.
A shooting sports complex will also be a source of revenue for the County Parks and Recreation Department. Numbers are not in yet, but I can guarantee the complex in Cleveland County is making money. It is/will be self-sufficient and probably help fund other recreation facilities. A large, well designed range will also attract competitive shooters from outside the area. We are into tourism, aren’t we? Support and build the range.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reminds anglers and would-be anglers of all ages that July 4 is “free fishing day” in North Carolina. From 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., anyone can fish without having to pay for a fishing license or additional trout privilege license in all public waters, including coastal waters. While everyone, residents and non-residents alike, can fish in public waters without a license on July 4, all other fishing regulations, such as length and daily possession limits, as well as bait and tackle restrictions, apply. Authorized by the N.C. General Assembly and enacted in 1994, North Carolina’s annual free fishing day always falls on July 4. On all other days of the year, a fishing license is not required for anglers 15 years and younger, but anyone age 16 and older must have a fishing license to fish in any public water in North Carolina, including coastal waters.
The Commission manages recreational inland fisheries, stocks fish, and provides free access to fishing sites across the state. To make finding a spot to fish easier, the Commission has interactive fishing and boating maps on its website that list more than 500 fishing and boating areas, most of which are free and open to the public. In addition to providing free places to fish, the Commission stocks a variety of fish in public, inland waters across the state throughout the year to give anglers a better chance of catching fish. Cool mountain waters are stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout, as well as walleye and muskellunge. In warm waters, Commission staff stocks largemouth bass, American shad, striped bass, channel catfish and sunfishes.
Don Mallicoat owns Wings & Clays Guns and Gear and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828.633.1806.