Preservation of sport shooting funds through excise tax
The Federal Wildlife Restoration Assistance Act, known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, was passed in 1937 to provide federal funds for state wildlife management.
The money comes from an 11% excise tax on sporting guns, ammunition, bows, arrows and their parts and accessories. This means that every time someone buys guns, bullets or archery equipment, they contribute to the mass of money distributed across the country to take care of wildlife and wild places.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service website, the funds are earmarked for the Secretary of the Interior and divided among the states according to a formula to pay up to 75% of the cost of approved projects.
Project activities include wildlife habitat acquisition and improvement, introduction of wildlife into suitable habitat, wildlife problem research, wildlife problem surveys and inventories , the acquisition and development of access facilities for public use and hunter education programs, including the construction and operation of target ranges.
When I was young, around 13, Dave Miller, the farmer whose land I hunted, called me “the aerator.” He said that with as many arrows as I drove into the ground lacking deer, he didn’t need to waste time aerating his fields. I took care of it for him. It’s crazy how 30 years later I can still see this handsome buck walking towards me along a trail cut through the snow up to my shins. At 20 yards, I missed it by at least two feet. The nickname was well deserved.
My first precisions with firearms were not much better. When I was growing up in Indiana, you could only hunt with muzzleloaders and shotguns. This was before more accurate in-line smoke poles came along, and when only the wealthy could afford rifled slug guns. I threw more brass knuckles at deer than I missed than I care to admit.
Over time I became a much more accurate marksman with the rifle and the bow. Learning to control my nerves was a big part of this improvement, although I still struggle with knocking knees when approaching heavy horned bucks.
By far the most important reason for my improvement was practice. I started shooting a lot. Although I still think of myself as a hunter who shoots, instead of a shooter who hunts, I throw a lot of ammo from a distance.
These days it’s a lot harder to get rid of the ammo I have on hand, as it’s sometimes impossible to replace it. And I don’t think the current outlook for ammunition purchases is very bright, with all the chaos in the world. So if you want to keep shooting, like me, but are worried about losing too many shots, you need to train smarter.
It’s not too often anymore that I come across a tool that I think really improves my ability to shoot or hunt. Over the past two decades, I’ve been introduced to so many trends, from odor control to stabilizers to lasers, that it seems the marketing minds of the industry want you to believe it was nearly impossible for early pioneers to kill anything without today’s technologies. Technology. I tend to avoid technology when it comes to hunting and shooting, but at the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) conference last summer, I was introduced to Mantis.
The POMA conference always includes Shooting Day at the Range, where many manufacturers are present to allow us external communicators to test their equipment. It’s still a blast, pun intended. When I arrived at the Mantis booth and saw everyone huddled around a smartphone, I thought I’d just walk past it, but curiosity kills the cat. So I checked it. I’m glad I did, because their tools for improving shooting accuracy are pretty cool.
In a nutshell, you attach a sensor to the gun or bow you’re shooting and download an app to your phone. When you shoot, the sensor collects all the data about your movement and sends it to the phone. So you can see if you flinch, drop your hands, move in some way. You can track your progress to see if you’re constantly making the same mistakes and hopefully you’ll start to see that you’re improving steadily.
A great feature of the system is that you can use it while dry firing your weapon. You cannot dry fire arcs. You don’t want to dry fire your gun without a dummy cartridge, known as a snap cap. These are very inexpensive. Buy one for each caliber of firearm you want to practice with, then strap on your Mantis and pretend you’re shooting live ammunition. Through the app you will see your movement and hopefully develop better shooting practices through increased muscle memory.
It works great on bows and crossbows too. Although you actually have to shoot arrows or bolts. I use it on my traditional bows – which I know use advanced technology and software on a piece of wood that I use to throw sticks. Quite an oxymoron. But it really helps.
I can see what my hands and arms are doing when I release the arrow. Because if I’m being honest, when it comes to traditional archery, the aerator is alive and well.
The importance of purchasing ammunition and equipment that funds the Pittman-Robertson Act is enormous. And I just gave you a tip that should reduce the amount of ammo you need to buy. So I’m going against my own desire to see as much money as possible sent to fund conservation. I’ve contributed a lot over the years and plan to do so for the rest of my life, but maybe not as much by buying ammo. Just be sure to spend the money you save on ammo to buy whatever new rifle you have in mind.
See you on the trail.
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