AGC / MCSM Day At The Range

What you missed !

AGC Day at the Range, that open house firearm event you may have heard about a few weeks or months ago took place on September 23, 2006. Here is what you missed.

Another MCSM coordinated fun shoot was conducted at the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore facility at Marriottsville, Maryland. This was one of several National Hunting and Fishing day events and was the first time I know of that an AGC Wide event, assisted by all of the AGC Clubs, was held.

The AGC is an association of 27 clubs with nearly 3000 members total with a wide variety of interests and activities. For more information please visit the AGC web site at:

My club is the Monumental Rifle and Pistol Club which is one of the AGC Charter clubs and the largest in the association with just under 400 members.

Print media coverage was provided by Candus Thomson of the Baltimore Sun news paper. Her story, also printed below, was Originally published Sep 24, 2006 and can be seen at; sp.thomson24sep24,0,1700811.column

Candy opens her story thusly;

"Yesterday, I got a big bang out of being at the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore campus just outside downtown Marriottsville. So did lots of others, from Boy Scouts to office workers.

Ellen Radliff, a Frederick resident who works at a mortgage company, experienced the powerful kick of a 50-caliber rifle and the fun of hanging out with her father, Gene."

A flavor of the event can be seen in the accompanying photographs.

Though not a .50BMG dedicated event as in the recent past, the Big Fifty did have its place on the line. About 70 times, with a call of "Fire in the Hole", the big Fifty boomed sending 700 grains of projectile down range and clearing the cobwebs out of the overhead cover on the fireing line at the same time. (photos)

That lone .50BMG got lots of use with its 70 rounds down range in three hours. The barrel was still warm when I took it off the line at 3PM.

There were about 75 guests attending at any one time, hosted by about 40 club member volunteers. Over half of the guests took advantage of the introductory safety and familirization courses running throughout the day in the range house class room. A typical photo from the classroom shows a mixture of students, all of whom were eager to learn.

The club members hosted the shooters at the line. The members supplied their own special firearms and ammo, with their own guidance and some good stories about their equipment and activities. Adding much flavor were some members in period costume. (Photo)

Making things interesting were the pair of belt fed Browning 1919 machine guns (semi-auto versions). The two sent about 600 rounds down range in 10 shot strings. Linking the ammo is not too much fun (photo) but then the firing is a blast.

There was a Rifle Rodeo, shooting at bricks at 25 yards. Easy you say? These were charcoal briquettes hanging from string and swinging in the breeze. The rifle was a scoped .17HMR so hitting them was possible and they powdered in a very nicely way when solidly hit. I do not know how many of the bricks at 50 and 100 yards survived the day, but the 25 yard line was quickly cleared.

An Official Biathlon Target got a good workout and the timed plastic pistol plates offered a degree of one on one challenge.

All in all it was a fun day where the practitioners of the shooting arts could bring out their toys and share their fun with otherwise unknowing visitors. Demonstrating the knowledge and friendliness of lawful firearm owners is the major payoff from such an event in an anti-gun environment such as Maryland.

The media coverage we got could not be bought at any price. I am not worried about the media printing the wrong thing, you just have to pay close attention to them, escort them around the event and give them clear information. Repetition is key. Give them the sound bites or one liners they can print, don't force them to make up their own. Getting such a positive image of firearms out to the public is not too difficult, but it is crucial.

Organized, staffed and supplied by donations from the members, donations from a few solicited shops and vendors and donations to the many "Ammo Kitty" Ammo Cans scattered around the club, the event was a zero net cost event as planned.

You can do it too. If you would like to discuss this or our past MCSM Fun Shoot events, contact me through the MCSM e-mail link on this page.

Bob Culver, MCSM - AGC Day / NHF Day Coordinator.

Baltimore Sun Sports Section article;

Candus Thomson; Originally published Sunday, September 24, 2006 sp.thomson24sep24,0,1700811.column

Yesterday, I got a big bang out of being at the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore campus just outside downtown Marriottsville. So did lots of others, from Boy Scouts to office workers.

Ellen Radliff, a Frederick resident who works at a mortgage company, experienced the powerful kick of a 50-caliber rifle and the fun of hanging out with her father, Gene.

"I'm enjoying it," she said, after handling several of the guns. "I'm hoping this will become a regular thing for my father and I to do."

About 10 women spent the day in the classroom and on the field, learning how to trap shoot from Roxanne Byczkowski.

My fun came from firing replicas of Revolutionary and Civil War black powder guns and a modified World War I-era machine gun, and from chatting with re-enactors, safety instructors and a rocket scientist - more about him later.

For all of us, the occasion was an open house to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day. Hallmark doesn't have a card, but it ought to.

The idea for a day of recognition took root in 1970, when Ira Joffe, owner of a gun shop outside Philadelphia, suggested it to Pennsylvania's governor, who proclaimed the fourth Saturday in September as "Outdoor Sportsman's Day."

The next year, Congress got involved, usually a sure sign that a good idea is headed for the scrap heap. But in this case, lawmakers unanimously approved, and President Nixon signed into law a hunting and fishing day. All 50 states scurried to adopt local versions that same year.

Events were held around Maryland yesterday, ranging from the Izaak Walton League of America opening its Montgomery County tract to hikers and anglers to the CastingKids competition sponsored by the Maryland Bass Federation and held at Bass Pro Shops Outdoors World at Arundel Mills.

The casting event is always fun, with youngsters showing off accuracy that would be the envy of most reporters. It's like football's punt, pass and kick contest, only the kids have to pitch, cast and flip. Last year, Alex Thomas of Crofton won the national title in the 11-14 age group. Yesterday, his brother, Hunter, won the morning competition in the same age group, the first step down the championship road.

The winner in the morning 7-10 age group was Joshua Stowe of Glen Burnie.

The afternoon 7-10 contest was won by Douglas Neary of Crofton, last year's state champion. Zachary Sams of Easton finished first in the older group.

All four youngsters will compete for state honors Oct. 28 at Bass Pro.

But back to the open house.

The Associated Gun Clubs, an umbrella organization for 27 clubs with about 3,000 members, was founded after World War II by a group of veterans. Its 87-acre property is by the McKeldin area of Patapsco Valley State Park.

Del Cockey, AGC president, says he knows many people don't look on his sport too kindly. But the fact is, the Olympics awards medals and universities field shooting teams. And that marksmanship doesn't just happen, it takes years on the range.

"We are constantly fighting the Saturday Night Special image," Cockey said. "But this is a sport, and it's not cheap or easy. It takes concentration and discipline."

Lots of people have the shooting bug, and many of them aren't hunters. The range runs multiple events every week - even in the dead of winter and, on the lighted trap fields, after the sun drops below the horizon.

There are personal safety classes, competitions for all types of firearms and youth programs.

Bryant Cramer coaches the junior shooting program, which is subsidized by the senior club and attracts about 60 students annually.

"We provide everything: the rifles, the ammunition, the targets, the safety equipment," says the rocket scientist who started his career at the Johnson Space Center and now works at NASA headquarters. "We preach safety. We drill the rules until they're almost reflex. The junior program has been here since the early 1970s, and we've never had an accident, I'm proud to say."

Wayne Long and Charlie Swinford were gracious and patient as they allowed visitors to experience their sport. For Long, dressed in period garb, it's a 1742 black powder musket almost as tall as me. For Swinford, it's an equally long replica of the type of Springfield black powder gun used 100 years later.

I fired both. Suffice it to say that no paper targets were harmed in the making of this column. Call me a nimrod for real.

The machine gun is a chronological jump of 77 years. Matthew Hiteshaw, a Virginia Tech engineering graduate who grew up just blocks from Governor Ehrlich's Arbutus home, modified the 1919 Browning from automatic to semi-automatic to stay in the good graces of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The gun fires 10-round belts at a cost of 20 cents a round. Hiteshaw estimates visitors have fired about 500 rounds - for free.

Crouching down behind a bale of hay that supports the gun's bipod makes you feel like Sgt. Alvin York. Mustering enough strength to pull the trigger makes you feel as feeble as Alvin the Chipmunk.

But this time, I tore up the target. By locking the gun in place, Hiteshaw saw to that.

Talk about hospitality.
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