August designated National Shooting Sports Month

The 31-day celebration encourages hunting and visits to shooting ranges, preferably with a friend, spouse or partner, in conjunction with special offers from sporting goods retailers. (Photo: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

The 31-day celebration encourages hunting and visits to shooting ranges, preferably with a friend, spouse or partner, in conjunction with special offers from sporting goods retailers. (Photo: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a proclamation last week to encourage participation in the shooting sports and emphasize firearms safety.

National Shooting Sports Month, advocated by the trade group of the firearms industry, was officially adopted by Zinke last Thursday. A recent appointment by President Trump, Zinke oversees the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service, covering about 20 percent of the land in the country.

“I grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana, where I spent my time hunting and fishing on our shared public lands,” said Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL and Republican Congressman. “I was lucky to take my boys out on the same land that my dad and granddad took me. Today I’m focused on continuing that tradition by announcing this August, and every August under my leadership at Interior will be proclaimed National Shooting Sports Month.”

Originally an initiative of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the month-long event is dedicated to the 50 million people who participate in hunting and sports shooting which, through Pittman-Robertson excise taxes, fuels conservation and safety efforts nationwide. The 31-day celebration encourages visits to shooting ranges, preferably with a friend, spouse or partner, in conjunction with special offers from sporting goods retailers.

Another key element of the program is a stress on firearms safety and education both on the range and in the safe storage of guns when not in use.

“I know that as a community sportsmen take the responsibility of firearm ownership and safety very seriously, and that we all work to instill that respect to our kids and grandkids,” said Zinke.

Besides the endorsement by the federal government, several states are signing on to the event as well.

“We’re excited to see the launch of National Shooting Sports Month,” said Dennis Fox, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “This is a great time for the DNR’s regular range customers to introduce someone new to the sport they love and for those who haven’t been out to the range lately to grab their firearm and get in some practice.”