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GUNS Magazine April 2012 Digital Edition - Page 20

STORY: Mike “Duke” Venturino PHOTOS: Yvonne Venturino A s all long-time readers of firearms magazines know, their editorial content is heavily slanted towards hunting. Article titles such as “The Best Elk Cartridges” or “Sighting in Your Whitetail Rifle” are all too common. That’s understandable because big-game hunting is still very popular on this continent. Unfortunately it’s a once a year endeavor for most participants and doesn’t provide much shooting activity. But I think the truth is that most big-game hunters are not avid riflemen; most shoot because hunting requires it. A much smaller percentage of biggame hunters are indeed avid shooters. They like to tinker with rifles, develop handloads, and try different calibers, different action types or scopes. They hunt big game because it gives a purpose to all that tinkering. I was one of those. Why say “was”? Because my biggame hunting days are over. In my 60s now, with an injured knee, bad back, a heart damaged from a cardiac infarction, and a lifetime losing battle with weight, I’m simply incapable of climbing to the top of the ridge behind my house like I used to do nearly every day during hunting season. Before you readers think I’m looking for sympathy, I need to stress that I don’t miss big-game hunting. How many deer, elk, pronghorn or whatever do you kill before satiety? I’ve kept my favorite deer and elk rifle, a restocked pre-64 Winchester Model 70 .308, but A good reason to shoot more. ComPetitioN In his younger years, Duke was an avid and moderately successful hunter but he says those days are past. Duke’s passion for competition over the last quarter century has been the very challenging game of Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette. Here he’s shooting in the newer scoped division. Because of his years of BPCR Silhouette Competition, Duke feels he can attend events such as this one in Phoenix, Ariz. and be among friends and also in very stiff competition. 20 the simple fact is I wouldn’t walk across a street to shoot another deer. (Maybe I would for an elk?) On the other hand, I would and do drive a 1,000 miles to shoot in a weekend competition. I came to formal competition rather late in life. Earlier I had fired in cow pasture turkey shoots and put my share of butterballs in the freezer. But it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I fired in an event with set rules, scoreboards for all to see, and plenty of competition in the form of other avid shooters. That match happened to be the trial one put on by the NRA to see if Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette would be a viable sport. From that very first match I was hooked and although I have fired in hundreds of matches over the past quarter century I have never grown bored with it. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because the sport is so difficult. Despite a considerable amount of effort in the past 25 years my success is relatively small. I’ve won two state championship titles but the highest I’ve ever placed at the BPCR Silhouette national championships is seventh. Perhaps an even more important contributing factor as to why BPCR Silhouette has not grown “old” to me is the competitors. Of course there have been a few bad apples encountered in over 25 years of competition but some of my closest friends at this stage of my life are fellow BPCR shooters. Furthermore I have driven to events in Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Idaho, Colorado and known there would be friends to both shoot against and visit with. Where I have but one big-game rifle today, I have seven W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A P R I L 2 0 1 2

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