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County expands offerings for sport shooters, hunters

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors on March 6 provided some of the county's gun owners a new, ongoing chance to discharge their weapons, and another opportunity for hunters to practice their passion may be coming soon.

Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) initiated two proposals during the board's first March meeting relating to guns: one to expand the sport of shooting clay pigeons in eastern Loudoun; and another to study a new managed hunt program, similar to the one that takes place at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve.

The clay pigeon measure passed unanimously and immediately went into effect, while increasing the managed hunt program to county-owned-properties in eastern Loudoun is going to be studied by county staff and brought back to the board.

Clay pigeon shooting is an international sport in which participants shoot at flying targets, known as clay pigeons or clay targets, according to county staff.

Loudoun County residents wishing to partake in shooting clay pigeons must still adhere to county regulations, such as no shooting within 50 yards of a primary or secondary state road or 100 yards of a public school and other designated areas.

Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) clarified the amendment relating to sport shooting would not have any effect on shooting and zoning regulations in western Loudoun County.

Volpe noted that shooting clay pigeons is a sport in which an estimated 4 million people across the country participate.

“This is a sporting activity we're looking at ... It's currently allowed in more than two-thirds of the geographic area of the county, and I would just like to see that it's available in the larger parcels in [eastern Loudoun County],” Volpe said.

On expanding the Banshee Reeks program, which the county's parks and recreation department assists with, several supervisors noted it could be beneficial on a number of fronts – notably public safety and the safety of the deer.

Volpe said she wanted county staff to study which county-owned recreational properties could be suitable for a new managed hunt program.

Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) voiced his support for the proposal.

“There are some good public benefits to a program like this,” Buona said, noting the health of deer, the impediment deer have on public safety and deer's role in spreading Lyme Disease.

The county's parks and recreation department and the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have conducted deer assessments at Banshee Reeks for several years, concluding the health of the deer is declining as a result of overpopulation.

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