It wasn't that long ago that sighting in your rifle or practicing you wing shooting skills was as simple as heading to your back yard or the nearest sand pit. For much of Vermont those days are over. Because of this the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is expanding their efforts to provide hunters and shooting sport enthusiasts with safe and environmentally responsible places to shoot.
It wasn’t that long ago that seeing a woman hunting was a rare sight. However, today females are the fastest growing demographic in the sport, and are now commonly seen in the field and hunting camps across the state. Keeping this trend alive is important to Fish and Wildlife departments across the country. But it’s also important to the women who want to share the thrills and empowerment enjoyed by the sport with their female friends and daughters. We head out fall turkey hunting with long time huntress Wendy Butler.
Like any hand eye sport, success at shooting clay targets or wing shooting requires practice and proper mechanics. Anyone who’s swung a golf club or pitched a baseball knows that the slightest change in mechanics can result in either disaster or tremendous success. Thanks to shooting instructors at Orvis, the wing shooting skills of thousands of waterfowl and upland bird hunters have been improved since 1973, when they opened their first shooting school in Manchester, Vermont.
Step back into the 16th century to fire flintlock muzzleloaders when we introduce you to an Acworth, New Hampshire gunsmith who has forged a family business out of his love of history and predilection for tinkering with all things mechanical.
Hand-eye coordination is the name of the game when it comes to skeet shooting. It's a sport of angles where women can compete on an equal plain with men. In skeet shooting, participants attempt to hit clay pigeons that are fired from two different locations on the course. Using shotguns, they make their way through eight different stations placed in a semicircle in front of the target launchers. The shooting stations create a variety of different trajectories and it can be challenging for even seasoned shooters to hit the moving targets. Host Marianne Eaton visits the Sportsman's Club of Franklin County to learn the highs and lows of skeet shooting.
Muzzle-loading guns were an important tool for survival for early Vermonters. Today, the allure of the ball-firing muzzleloader has caught on with a whole new generation of hunters and shooting enthusiasts. These guns present special challenges for hunters in that you only have one shot to hit your quarry. You have to get relatively close to the target to make a successful shot. And even when the conditions are right, the gun may misfire. It's a sport of few second chances. Every January in Jeffersonville at the Primitive Biathlon, period-costumed participants traverse the course, wearing wooden snowshoes, and shooting at the targets with muzzleloaders. It's a day where the woods are filled with mountain men and the smell of black powder. Host Lawrence Pyne competes at this year's event.
Competitive shooting is a highly demanding activity that carries dreams of college scholarships, national championships and even Olympic Medals. Reaching that level, however, requires a tremendous amount of discipline, dedication, and precision. And it can be tough for young people to find a school or club that provides them with an opportunity to sharpen their shooting skills. The Burlington Rifle and Pistol Club offers Junior marksmanship programs. We spend time with Katie Benjamin, one of Vermont's top youth shooters at the indoor range of the National Guard Armory in Winooski where the club practices. We then spend a day at Camp Johnson where some of the country's top shooters attend a summer camp for marksmanship.
Combining the sports of cross-country skiing with precision target shooting, the biathlon has evolved from an ancient hunting method to military ski patrols, to an Olympic and World Cup sport. It requires strength, endurance, solid skating skills and a high degree of shooting accuracy. Add cold and changing snow conditions to the mix and you have one of the toughest physical and mental challenges a competitor can face. The Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho is home to one of the premiere biathlon training facilities in North America and is managed by the National Guard. The Guard has produced a number of world-class biathletes. The Ethan Allen facility attracts competitors from all over the world. Host Marianne Eaton joins Guard member and Olympic biathlon racer Dan Westover on the range in Jericho for an introductory lesson to the sport of biathlon.