Who’s a true sportsman?

Clue: It’s not the guy with the assault rifle

The author is a wildlife biologist with 50 years of field experience. He is now semi-retired, but he regularly travels to practice his passion for wildlife photography. He lives in Paradise.

The bumper sticker on the truck in front of me read, “Sportsmen Against Gun Control.” It was right next to one reading, “I’m in the NRA and I Vote!”

I have been a hunter all my life, and I still own several guns. I’ve killed my share of deer, ducks and quail, and for the first several years of my career I was a game warden. So, I’ve been involved with many sportsmen’s groups and led numerous firearms-safety courses. As such, I’m weary of the NRA claiming one of their primary objectives is to protect sportsmen’s rights. Let me define a sportsman:

A sportsman is someone who sits in the driving rain in a duck blind with a two- or three-shot shotgun hoping to have a duck or goose fly within the relatively short range of his shot.

A sportsman is one who spends several hours at a gun range prior to each hunting season ensuring his bolt-action rifle is dead on so he can make a one-shot kill if the opportunity arises.

A sportsman is someone who practices at a trap or skeet range to improve his skill for that fleeting moment a quail or pheasant flies out of the grass.

A sportsman may even take up bow hunting or the use of single-shot muzzle-loaders to increase his skills while greatly lessening his opportunity to bag his quarry.

What a sportsman is not:

A person who thinks military weapons having the most firepower are necessary for sport hunting.

A person who finds the volume of his shots more satisfying than the accuracy of his shots.

A person who believes he needs such capabilities to protect him from his neighbors.

Owning a military weapon designed for combat in close quarters and capable of shooting numerous shots per second and having rapidly changeable high-capacity clips is not the mark of a sportsman. Unless the owner is in the active military, it’s simply the mark of a frightened bully.

I would urge all bona-fide sportsmen’s organizations to join together to insist on a ban on all semi-automatic guns capable of holding more than five shots in their magazines. This would have no effect on 99 percent of this country’s true sportsmen.