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Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: Climate change surfaces in Dunbarton

  • Duncan McNaughton started wearing pink breast cancer awareness items, including pink braces, after his aunt passed away from breast cancer three years ago.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Duncan McNaughton started wearing pink breast cancer awareness items, including pink braces, after his aunt passed away from breast cancer three years ago.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Duncan McNaughton, 14, of Moultonborough, competes in the International Defensive Pistol Association championships hosted by the Pioneer Sportsmen's Club in Dunbarton on Saturday, October 19, 2013. Stages were designed to simulate real-life defensive shooting scenarios such as a home invasion.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Duncan McNaughton, 14, of Moultonborough, competes in the International Defensive Pistol Association championships hosted by the Pioneer Sportsmen's Club in Dunbarton on Saturday, October 19, 2013. Stages were designed to simulate real-life defensive shooting scenarios such as a home invasion.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Duncan McNaughton shares a moment with his mother and "range mom" Wendy McNaughton. McNaughton competes in 6–8 matches a month between March and November, and has been accumulating sponsors such as the gun manufacturer Sig Sauer since he started competing at age 11. "Duncan has ADD and struggles in school but this is the only thing that I don't have to worry about him with," McNaughton said.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Duncan McNaughton shares a moment with his mother and "range mom" Wendy McNaughton. McNaughton competes in 6–8 matches a month between March and November, and has been accumulating sponsors such as the gun manufacturer Sig Sauer since he started competing at age 11. "Duncan has ADD and struggles in school but this is the only thing that I don't have to worry about him with," McNaughton said.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Duncan McNaughton, 14, of Moultonborough, competes in the International Defensive Pistol Association championships, hosted by the Pioneer Sportsmen's Club in Dunbarton on Saturday, October 19, 2013. <br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Duncan McNaughton, 14, of Moultonborough, competes in the International Defensive Pistol Association championships, hosted by the Pioneer Sportsmen's Club in Dunbarton on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Duncan McNaughton, 14, talks with Karen Zeger of Springfield, Massachusetts, while studying a stage of the IDPA championships. <br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Duncan McNaughton, 14, talks with Karen Zeger of Springfield, Massachusetts, while studying a stage of the IDPA championships.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Duncan McNaughton examines targets after completing one of 13 stages comprising the IDPA championships. <br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Duncan McNaughton examines targets after completing one of 13 stages comprising the IDPA championships.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Duncan McNaughton watches Kevin Sensenig (left) of Windham conduct a walk-through of a stage where the shooter sits at a poker table.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Duncan McNaughton watches Kevin Sensenig (left) of Windham conduct a walk-through of a stage where the shooter sits at a poker table.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Duncan McNaughton started wearing pink breast cancer awareness items, including pink braces, after his aunt passed away from breast cancer three years ago.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Duncan McNaughton, 14, of Moultonborough, competes in the International Defensive Pistol Association championships hosted by the Pioneer Sportsmen's Club in Dunbarton on Saturday, October 19, 2013. Stages were designed to simulate real-life defensive shooting scenarios such as a home invasion.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Duncan McNaughton shares a moment with his mother and "range mom" Wendy McNaughton. McNaughton competes in 6–8 matches a month between March and November, and has been accumulating sponsors such as the gun manufacturer Sig Sauer since he started competing at age 11. "Duncan has ADD and struggles in school but this is the only thing that I don't have to worry about him with," McNaughton said.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Duncan McNaughton, 14, of Moultonborough, competes in the International Defensive Pistol Association championships, hosted by the Pioneer Sportsmen's Club in Dunbarton on Saturday, October 19, 2013. <br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Duncan McNaughton, 14, talks with Karen Zeger of Springfield, Massachusetts, while studying a stage of the IDPA championships. <br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Duncan McNaughton examines targets after completing one of 13 stages comprising the IDPA championships. <br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Duncan McNaughton watches Kevin Sensenig (left) of Windham conduct a walk-through of a stage where the shooter sits at a poker table.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

The popping of firearms through the trees and the gentle ping of spent cartridges hitting the ground needed an extra day this weekend in Dunbarton.

That’s what happens when registration for a shooting competition, called the Live Free or Die Championship, bursts at the seams like never before. An event traditionally held in a day continues today.

“We sold out in three hours,” said Paul Erhardt, spokesman for the International Defensive Pistol Association, the governing body of the event. “The general climate in this country is driving greater participation in shooting sports and first-time firearms purchases, people who are new owners.”

Climate in this case is a two-way street. After recent gun violence in America, some have demanded stricter laws, especially those covering private gun sales.

But, as I noticed yesterday at the Pioneer Sportsmen’s Club, climate also refers to a new enthusiasm for competitive shooting, fueled by a White House that some gun rights advocates find disrespectful of constitutional rights.

“It’s their reaction to major events, 9/11, Newtown,” Erhardt said. “The spike in sales was mammoth. The drive toward gun sales exploded with the threat of gun control.”

Erhardt guided me through the club yesterday on a day made for sunglasses. He explained the different “stages,” each built to re-create a potential dangerous scenario.

Like the Cereal Killer, an indoor facsimile of a grocery store, complete with shelves of Friskies cat food and thin crisps and Cheerios, plus a cardboard cutout, the bad guy, standing at the end of each aisle.

Another is called China Shop, a business with delicate glassware and tables, not to mention more bad guys and trapped citizens, also made of cardboard but with two black hands on them to designate “non-threat” individuals.

Competitors race against a clock to shoot the bad guys and spare the good guys, who are sometimes used as human shields. Shooting quickly but accurately is the name of the game.

You can watch each stage, up close, but you’d better be wearing eye protection and ear plugs; otherwise you’ll be scolded and asked to move away.

You learn to call the rectangular ammunition storage device a magazine, not a clip. Never a clip.

You learn that the IDPA has 22,000 members in the United States and represents 54 countries in all.

And you learn that gun restrictions – background checks and registering weapons – for private sales do not fly here.

“Private deals are not the problem,” Erhardt says. “There are already checks in place, and it won’t work by restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

So you move on, to Brian Steskla, a lieutenant in the Connecticut Department of Corrections. He said the event is more challenging than what he faces on a day-to-day basis.

“You have to think in situations where you’re not comfortable,” Steskla said. “You’re developing your shooting skills through competition. It allows me to assess the situation better.”

Wendy McNaughton, known as the Range Mom, was there with her 14-year-old son, Duncan, a freshman at Moultonboro High.

He’s a good shot. And while the event is about competition and fun, a natural by-product is self-defense and acting cool under pressure.

“Being prepared,” Wendy said. “He’s home alone a lot, so later he’ll be able to handle things.”

As Duncan peppered a succession of cardboard figures, set in a line to signify the different positions of a charging bear, Wendy relayed a story about the school yearbook and a full-page story, photos included, about her son and his hobby.

With the story not yet published, the Newtown incident rocked the nation, leaving Wendy worried that the piece on Duncan might be spiked.

In fact, she warned Duncan to prepare for disappointment.

“I was worried the school was going to do the politically correct thing,” Wendy said. “I told him if that happens, it would have nothing to do with him. It’s the climate.”

There’s that word again.

Climate.

But for most shooters, yesterday’s event was not really about politics.

As Matt Poulin, president of the Pioneer Sportsmen’s Club, said, “This is an opportunity to practice potential real-life situations. People can practice in a safe environment, proper gun techniques and gun handling.”

The event continues this morning, with the first shots fired at 8:30 a.m.

The political shots are not welcome. Not here, and not this weekend.

“We’re an indirect beneficiary of the climate,” Erhardt said. “It’s been a huge benefit for us.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Legacy Comments1

2nd amendment...written in plain english, 1 sentence, in the 18th century, affirmed by the Supreme court should be 1 million more times "settled" law than any law written 3 years ago. But...you know it isnt. Thats why I laugh every time I hear this Obamacare is settled law from liberals. Like anyone believes them.

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