Chairman, Wheatfield Firearms Permit Board
The cool fall weather is once again here and should signal our suburban and country residents that they will soon hear the sound of target practice gunfire, usually on weekend or weekday evenings. This is especially true here in Wheatfield, as we have a large contingent of sportsmen and active gun owners. I'm one of them.
In Wheatfield, we also have a reasonable firearms discharge law, which allows only certain type of guns afield that can be discharged within our three Firearm Discharge Areas (FDAs), A, B and C.
First and foremost, all rifle discharge is prohibited within the borders of Wheatfield except by permit. At present, only permits for muzzleloader rifle discharge in areas A and B are issued, and, with exceptions, only for residents.
Area C, which is a triangle of Ward Road, Ruie Road, and Niagara Falls Boulevard, prohibits all firearms discharge except by special permit. Area B, mainly west of Ward Road and south of Niagara Falls Boulevard, only allows carrying afield and discharge of shot shells from a shotgun. Area A, mainly north of Niagara Falls Boulevard, also allows discharge of shotgun slugs.
This is only a general description and anyone interested can obtain a copy of Wheatfield's Firearm Discharge Law, 1-1975, at the town clerk's office. Signs are also at all road entrances to Wheatfield and warn that our firearms law is strictly enforced.
Most calls about firearms and firearms discharge issues are usually directed to me. They mainly require only information exchange, and if it appears to need legal attention, the Sheriff's Department or Department of Environmental Conservation is called.
However, this time of year, most calls are from new residents who are not used to hearing target practice. I then explain our laws and tell them that those afield are there legally and doing what is necessary to become more safe and efficient when they are afield during hunting season. Those of us who were raised in the country are used to guns and gunfire. We know that sounds of target practice and hunting are part of an old American tradition handed down through the generations. I still remember my father teaching me about guns and hunting, and for those of us who served in WWII, the military was grateful that so many of us had gun "savvy," that is, we knew about guns and how to safely use them.
So, you see folks, it's that time of year again, and hunters understand that target practice serves several important functions. First, it allows us once again to become familiar with the various gun operations such as breakdown, cleaning and re-assembly, and loading. This includes that all-important safety switch operation plus aiming and coordinated trigger pull. This requires much practice. Secondly, target practice and re-familiarization with their gun allows them to once again develop that very important sense of handling their gun safely, that is, they once again become "in tune" with their gun, how it should be held, where it's pointing, safety switch position, and the coordination of all their movements and activities while handling a gun.
Thus, one can recognized that target practice is very important for a number of reasons, especially safety.
Oh, yes, did I mention that many women, wives, daughters and girlfriends are out there, too, and often a better shot than us ... ahem! ... men. I think it's because they do exactly as they were instructed and have better hand/finger coordination. Also, they don't have that male ego to contend with. And this used to be a man thing. "Yes, dear! Grab your gun and come along." So when you hear gunfire from target practice, it could just be a family affair.