Human-form targets may be allowed

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While there is no law regarding the practice of human-form targets, it has become an unwritten rule adopted by the public ranges.

Robin Cahoon, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources legislative liaison, reported to the Utah legislature Wednesday giving an impressive report on the safety of hunting with a firearm while also appealing for human-form targets at public ranges not be made law.

“The state of Utah instituted hunter education in 1957,” Cahoon said. “During that year there were 126 hunting-related accidents. Of those accidents, 22 were fatal. This sort of accident rate was not tolerable. The primary objective of the program is to help people learn essential skills needed to hunt safely and ethically.”

Comparing the numbers of 1957 to recent years provided an insight into hunting that is rarely known to the average citizen.

“Utah’s Hunter Education Program works,” Cahoon said. “Over the last 16 years (since 1996) Utah has averaged six hunting incidents per year. During that time, we have had only seven hunting-related fatalities.”

The International Hunter Education Association teaches that you should “never point your firearm at something you do not intend to shoot.” Therefore shooting at human shaped targets would be “counterproductive,” Cahoon said.

Although targets shaped as humans are not available, Cahoon noted that “the targets used in Utah’s Hunter Education Program include a bull’s-eye, squirrel and a rabbit.”

Senator Lyle Hillyard (R-Cache, Rich) offered his thoughts on the subject by recounting an experience of one of his constituents. He told of a man who is “a professional trainer of how to handle weapons” and upon arriving at the Logan public shooting range, was informed that “they did not allow human targets to be used.” A round target with a bull’s-eye was the most common target used at the facility.

“It’s one thing to shoot at targets, but it’s another when it’s self-defense and you’ve got somebody coming at you,” Sen. Hillyard said. “I understand the reason that you may not want to teach people to shoot people but the aspect of having a training with a gun and getting the equipment maybe ought to be changed so you have some of that more experience.”

Sen. Hillyard realized not all who attend shooting ranges would feel comfortable shooting at a human shaped target saying he “(doesn’t) want to force people” but “give them a choice.”

Presiding Chair, Sen. Mark B. Madsen (R- Tooele), told those gathered that “the department has the privilege of operating (the ranges)” but they are “the citizens’ range.” Sen. Madsen believed that by not allowing human-form targets they may have “restricted use because of an overstep of authority.”

Because there is no administrative rule on prohibiting human-form targets it was Sen. Madsen’s belief that a meeting would need to be held to determine a statute that could allow for more “clarity.”

There needed to be “input from the tax-payers that own the range,” Sen. Madsen said. “The peoples’ interests need to be reflected in the policies” and since they are the public’s shooting ranges they “need to make sure their interests are paramount.”

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