Howard Delo

I’ve been a little remiss in commenting on this topic. ADF&G issued a news release a couple of weeks ago stating that bears had begun emerging from their winter hibernation and would be looking for some easy food. The news release suggested some commonsense ways to prevent a potential bear encounter in your yard.

Quoting from the news release, “Garbage: Store trash inside buildings or in bear-resistant containers; keep secured until the day of scheduled pickup. Encourage neighbors to do the same. Electric fences: Properly constructed electric fences designed to exclude bears can keep bears out of gardens, compost, and away from buildings, chicken coops, and domestic animals. Barbecues: Clean barbecue grills, especially grease traps, after each use. Pets: Feed pets indoors or clean up excess and spilled food between meals. Store pet food, livestock food, and birdseed indoors or in bear-resistant containers. Bird Feeders: Take feeders down April through October, store securely and remove spilled seed. Freezers: Keep freezers locked in a secure building or otherwise inaccessible to bears. Gardens: Plant gardens in the open, away from cover and game trails. Only compost raw vegetable matter and turn over compost frequently.”

The department encourages you to report any situations involving bears on your property, in your neighborhood, or observed showing aggression. The preferred outcome of any bear encounter in populated areas is that nobody gets hurt, including the bear.

The first weekend of this month saw the NMLRA (National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association) sponsored Thousand-Point Shoot held at the Mat Valley Sportsman’s range just south of Palmer. This shoot involved blackpowder percussion and flintlock pistols and cap and ball revolvers.

I attended both days of the shoot but only fired a couple of matches with my revolver. One of the guys who doesn’t own a flintlock pistol borrowed mine and did okay with it. The first day, I spent my time helping to time the relays (which last 30 minutes each) and timing the timed-fire matches for the different handguns.

In the timed fire matches, a shooter has five minutes from the first shoot to fire five shots with the percussion pistol. This is repeated a second time for the 10-shot match total. A shooter has six minutes for five shots, starting with the first shot, for the flintlock pistol and is repeated for the second five shot string. The revolver shooter has ten minutes to fire ten shots in that timed fire relay.

I’m not happy to report that there were only six registered shooters, including me, for this two-day shoot. I suspect work kept a couple of guys from attending. One of our top shooters scored targets rather than shoot because of age and health infirmities. The other top shooter moved out of state a couple of years ago. We do have one guy who’s developing into a top shooter and improves at every match he attends, but we need some new and young blood to come into the sport or it could become a thing of the past in a few years.

I’m a range safety officer (RSO) at the Upper Susitna Shooters Association facility at Mile 94 on the Parks Highway. After taking last year off because of Covid 19, I rejoined the RSO cadre and attended the annual RSO meeting this past Saturday. Some of the newer guys thought I was a “newbie” until the Chief RSO commented on how I was involved with the Wednesday range opening several years ago. I’m glad somebody remembered!

A few things have changed since I last participated in 2019. They have a new computer system for handling fees by RSO’s which even I can make work! Because of the initial design of the ranges, to make shooting safer and to capture all bullets glancing off the ground at short distances on the 200-yard range, a couple of short berms were added at the 50-yard line.

What these berms do is catch any bullet bouncing off the ground on short shots on that range. Before, it was possible for a bouncing bullet to hit the ground and bounce high enough to go over the top of the berm at the end of the range. This short-berm structure will prevent that from happening.

The other big change saw the narrowing of the berms between the respective ranges. This narrowing has gained five to ten additional shooting positions on both the 100- and 200-yard ranges. That will decrease crowding on busy days and when classes are being conducted.

Overall, I’m impressed at these improvements!

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