SOUTH CALSHOOTING EVENTS
NORCO – Hunters and shooting enthusiasts were filling the huge parking lot on Saturday as day two of the Shooting Sports Fair opened its gates. Western Outdoor News waited in the long line as well for a chance to see what the latest in firearms were going to be available for "hands on" shooting. Also, it was an opportunity to check out the wide variety of hunting accessories, take in the great sales at Turner's Outdoorsman and Jimmy's Outdoors retail booths, talk to conservationists about upcoming hunting seasons, attend a couple of very informative hunting seminars and visit with outfitters who were very optimistic.
WON's first stop was to spend a few minutes with Sports Fair producer Mike Raahauge, and the big smile on his face was a reflection of how successful this year's show was and how happy those in attendance and vendors were. One of them was Harold Horner, outfitter of High Desert Guide Service.
• BIG RIFLE FOR A LADY - Rebecca Meza drove all the way from Bishop to attend Sports Fair with her husband. This lady not only shot the 50 cal. big bore rifle, but also had an opportunity to run a magazine of rounds through the 1883 Model Gatling Machine Gun. WON PHOTOS BY JIM NIEMIEC
• COWBOY TALK - There was a lot of interest in the old west and antique weapons used by cowboys.
• FUN TIME FOR ALL - Jeff and Deede Bird of Palm Desert took in Sports Fair and brought along their 3-year old yellow lab that was trained by Starlight Kennels. WON PHOTOS BY JIM NIEMIEC
• SHE WAS PACKING A PISTOL - Playing the part of a cowgirl is all about dressing up and becoming part of the old west. The pretty lady put it all together for Sports Fair including wearing her single action revolver.
"It must have been the fact that there was no Sports Fair last year due to a shortage of ammunition or economic conditions, but for whatever reason gun folks showed up big time for this year's event. We have given out a lot of brochures and booked a number of chukar hunts, well beyond the numbers for the last event," said Horner.
It was interesting to see the vast numbers of women and youngsters that were at Sports Fair. There were just as many women handling pistols and black tactical shotguns as there were big game hunters shooting large caliber rifles and a vast selection of new auto-loader shotguns.
"This has been a great event for us. Our firing line has be busy the entire time and we hardly have time to reload, put out new targets and get shotguns and rifles ready for the next round of shooters waiting in line," said Andy McCormick of Legacy/Howa sporting arms.
Not only could shooters check out the latest in firearms by way of live-fire stations, but many manufactures would send a shooter over to the Turner's Outdoorsman booth to get a big discount on a rifle, shotgun or pistol purchased at Sports Fair.
McCormick added, "The trend seems to show a greater amount of interest in shotguns and rifles that retailed for under $1,000, which was about the cut off for those looking to purchase a new firearm."
Also backing up the change in gun buying was the much slower sales of high-end over and under, side-by-side and top grade sporting clays shotguns.
"We have had exceptional interest in our Tarus line of pistols and Rossi shotguns at this show. I think that gun folks are spending their money on pistols, survival type shotguns and ammo in fear to pending legislation from Washington. The fear of not being able to buy a gun or ammo in the near future has triggered a huge buying surge among traditional non-gun owners or those who just own a single hunting rifle or shotgun," noted firearms manufacturer rep Jim Ferry.
The fair offered up something for everyone and that's probably the main reason that it set attendance records this past weekend. Starlight Kennels put on a great dog show, the cowboys showed up in big numbers, shooting events were impressive, there was something to do for all and Sports Fair showcased just about every firearm manufactured. While the pre-1900 Gatling machine gun wowed a lot of people, it would be safe to say that some shooters were rubbing a sore shoulder after shooting a couple of rounds of the high-powered 50 cal. rifles at a number of shooting stations.
The next family event that will be held at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises will be the 12th Annual Youth Outdoor Safari Day that will be held on July 17. For details contact youthsafariday.com.
• STARLIGHT KENNELS DOG SHOW - Expert dog handler and trainer Paul Cacciatore put on a great working dog show and had three fine sporting dogs a part of the cast.
• EXPERT INSTRUCTION - The shooting line and trap range were staffed with experts who taught gun safety, proper gun handling and how to shoot. This young shooters intently listens to the coaching of a gun pro. WON PHOTOS BY JIM NIEMIEC
• LEARNING ABOUT A MUZZLE LOADER - Scott Schalliol, a factory rep for Tim Bailey and Assoc. goes over the simple details of loading a modern day muzzle loader before heading off to the firing line with the new shooter.
• TURNER'S OUTDOORSMAN SHOOTING STATION - Both the Turner's shooting stations and retail booth were packed with gun folks throughout all of Sports Fair. WON PHOTOS BY JIM NIEMIEC