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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gunsite Training for Hunters

Well after a week at Gunsite I now REALLY know what I didn't know! That is...in terms of rifle handling and shooting. After burning up over 400 rounds of ammunition I found out a lot about myself and my rifle.

I have been handling firearms and been in the hunting fields since a very young age. I barely remember the first time I fired a ''real gun''. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. I have always been a fair shot, able to hit a lot of what I shoot at most of the time. I have missed my fair share which helped me learn how to hit a bit better. I always wanted to be a better shot, especially with a rifle. This past week at Gunsite may have given me the tools I need to improve my field shooting.

As an Arizona resident I am ashamed to say I have not been to Gunsite before this trip. I have always wanted to get training there but it never seemed to work out until now.

I have taken a number of shooting classes in the past but none of them were taught by folks as qualified as those that Gunsite employs. Our Range Master Il Ling New was outstanding. We have all seen instructors of one kind or another try to fake their way through a particularly tough question. This is not the case with Il Ling, she had a vast wealth of knowledge and answered even the most complex questions clearly. She is also one of the most skilled people I have ever seen handle a rifle. The smoothness and dexterity she employs is enviable. I am sure it came with a lot of practice.

The two coaches who assisted Il Ling were also excellent. Bill Halvorsen a retired law enforcement officer and Mario Marchman a current police firearms instructor are two Gunsite veterans with almost 40 years of instruction experience between them. They added a lot to the course and paid careful attention to the students to assure everyone was working to their ability.

The course we took was the 270 General Rifle Course which covers everything from the absolute basics to more advanced rifle shooting. The course is designed to teach you to hit an 8 inch kill zone at up to 300 yards. That is more than enough skill for African Safari Hunting or North American hunting. Since the weather was fair we were even able to shoot out to 400 yards. One or two students decided not to shoot at that distance for whatever reason but those that did were indeed able to hit the kill zone at 400 yards.

This is a very practical course and is the pre requisite for the more advanced rifle courses. Everything they teach in this course is applicable in the field.

Gunsite does not simply teach people how to shoot, they incorporate a "mind set" into the curriculum that can not only improve your shooting, it could save your life. To those not familiar with that ''mind set'' it is the mindset of the ''fighter'' not the ''victim''. What does the average hunter need with that? You ask. To those that hunt dangerous game it is obvious, when a buffalo or a leopard comes at you, you must have the mind set to (as they say at Gunsite) ''work the problem'' and ''stay in the fight'' you cannot allow yourself to freeze up lest you end up as food or a buffalo doormat.

So what does a deer or plains game hunter need with all of this? In some instances people will react to a high stress situation like chasing a wounded animal with the same paralysis one might encounter when being attacked, they freeze at exactly the time they must act. When an animal is wounded it is the responsibility of the hunter to dispatch the animal as humanely and quickly as possible. So freezing at that moment is undesirable. Gunsite instructors help you to maintain control of yourself and teach you the basics of continuing to ''work the problem'' until it is solved. Whether it be saving your life or ending that of your prey.

I am looking forward to returning to Gunsite in a couple of weeks for one of their Hunt Preparation classes which is a 3 day course designed to apply the skills learned in the 270 course to hunting.

I can recommend Gunsite without reservations. Whether you are an experienced hunter or brand new to the sport you will learn what YOU didn't know, you didn't know! - TJR

Contact Gunsite:
2900 W. GUNSITE ROAD
PAULDEN, AZ. 86334
Phone: 928-636-4565 Fax: 928-636-1236
www.gunsite.com

Sunday, May 20, 2007

But...isn't it illegal to hunt elephants?

Nothing could be further from the truth ...

Many American hunters are extremely well informed of the conservation success story of the whitetail deer in America. Regulated sport hunting of deer has led to nationwide population explosions. Many non hunters are also aware of the whitetail deer’s resurgence, and have become quite accepting of deer hunting. It is such a success story that in many states in the US one can legally take many deer in one season. However many hunters are unaware that there is a similar success story to report regarding the African elephant.

I have noticed an interesting opinion that seems to be held by a number of folks within the hunting community, it seems to also be prevalent among those who do not hunt. It is an aversion to the hunting of elephants. When I tell people what I do for a living I frequently get the same question asked a number of different ways for example:''it's not legal to hunt elephants is it?'' When I explain that yes it is quite legal to hunt elephants in certain African countries, I often met with surprise.''you don't support elephant hunting do you'' and when my response is in the affirmative I am again met with surprise.

Why is that?

In my opinion there is absolutely nothing morally or ethically wrong with the regulated sport hunting of elephants. Further it is revenues from this type of hunting that has saved elephants from extinction.

Another misconception is that elephant hunting is simple and not a challenge. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you ask experienced elephant hunters they will all tell you that the elephant is one of the most difficult species to hunt. They are intelligent, wary and potentially dangerous. They can run and /or walk for many miles without rest. They also must survive many years to grow into a significant trophy.

In terms of conservation, science shows that if elephant populations are not thinned from time to time they can cause massive destruction to their own habitat which is becoming increasingly limited due to the encroachment of humans. They can also do massive damage to crops and other things native people depend on for survival.

There is a common misconception that it is totally illegal to posses elephant ivory in the United States. It is LEGAL to posses elephant ivory in the United States as long as it was LEGALLY sport hunted in a country that complies with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty. For some countries like Tanzania a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is required. Currently no USFWS permit is required for elephants taken in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe. One of the requirements of the USFSW is that ''the import of sport hunted trophy will enhance the survival of the specie'' in other words money from the taking of an elephant must be determined to be used for conservation of the species. The USFWS has determined this to be the case in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

It is only illegal to import elephant ivory to the US for commercial trade. Personally sport hunted trophies are exempt from this restriction.

In general when game animals in Africa are killed you can bet almost nothing is ever wasted. Millions of pounds of meat is given to locals every single year in Africa. When an elephant is killed it is like a holiday for the local community. They may take days to cut it up for meat. An elephant can feed hundreds of people for many weeks and sometimes months.

Hunter's dollars go to many things to benefit local communities. One example is the anti poaching efforts funded by hunters. This is the free market at work. When you place a high dollar value on an animal like an elephant ($25,000 - $50,000 USD) you make those animals worth protecting by the local community. Instead of poaching for meat or ivory the locals protect the animals so a few mature old bulls can be hunted each year. These bulls have generally left the heard after having bred with the females for years. Many of these old bulls would otherwise die of starvation because their teeth are extremely worn. So instead of dropping dead of hunger they benefit the community.

In the mid 1970's Kenya banned sport hunting of elephants. The elephant population has plummeted from 140,000 elephants in the 1970's to 23,000 today, all due to poaching and a lack of conservation programs. Conversely in Tanzania (which allows regulated sport hunting of elephants) populations have exploded.
See this 2007 study data:

http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/sgs/afesg/aed/pdfs/aesr2007e.pdf

The World Wildlife Fund (which is not a hunting organization) is the primary organization overseeing regulated sport hunting in Namibia look at their website:

http://worldwildlife.org/action/conflict/namibia.cfm

The regulated sport hunting of game species based on the American model of wildlife conservation is the key to the survival of many species throughout the world. We need only look at the whitetails in our own backyards to remind us of this.

Good hunting.

- TJR

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Leopard Hunting in Namibia

We recently heard from The Hunting Report that some leopard trophies being imported to the USA from Namibia were confiscated because they were tagged incorrectly. We contacted the Namibia Professional Hunters Association and they put out the following statement today:

LEOPARD TAGS FOR CITES

"A number of NAPHA members have forwarded the office information released by separate sources pertaining to the apparent use of incorrect identification tags used for CITES purposes on leopard trophies being exported. This has caused a certain amount of panic. We would hereby like to clarify the situation.


It came to the fore that US Fish and Wildlife had confiscated two separate leopard skins exported by Namibia due to the apparent use of incorrect identification tags.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has been making use of the current tagging system for the past fifteen 15 years. Those leopards exported with the old tags will still be accepted. MET has now submitted a new tag for approval by US Fish and Wildlife.
In the event of your clients leopard trophy being confiscated during the interim period, please advise MET Elly Hamunyela immediately to assist you with the issue."


The folks at NAPHA are very organized and usually get on top of things like this very quickly. I expect they will have the problem solved completely as the African hunting seasons are getting into full swing now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Gunsite Training and Upcoming Inspection Trips

As the 2007 hunting seasons begin throughout Africa we are preparing for a number of trips. First we are off to Gunsite for rifle training in May then back up there in June for a Safari Prep class. I firmly believe in training to use your firearms to the best of your ability. I think that hunting ethics demand that you make the most accurate shot you can. This can only be achieved with training and practice. Gunsite's reputation is second to none. They have been the premiere private firearms training facility since Col. Jeff Cooper founded it over 20 years ago. I am really looking forward to it and will let you know how it goes.

In August we will be off to South Africa for the NRA Women on Target hunt. Shannon will stay there with the ladies who are participating. I will be there for a few days and then I will be off for a series of inspection visits. I will be visiting some outfitters who I've never met before and I will be visiting with some old friends. The inspections will start in South Africa and, move on to Namibia and then to Tanzania. I will be visiting our outfitters in the Kalahari, some other folks in Central Namibia, then off to the Caprivi strip for a buffalo hunt. I will be making my third trip to Tanzania to visit the Selous game reserve to check out the camps of an outfitter I am hoping we will represent starting in the 2008 season.



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