In Canada, more acutely in Ontario, the display and use of firearms in an entirely legal manner has under gone many years of social engineering and regulation. Gone are the decades past when you and your other high school buddies brought their .22LR rifles to school for show and tell. Gone are the years past when the schools had rifle clubs and small shooting ranges established on school property. Gone are the days of being able to show off your firearm to friends and neighbours as a source of pride and safe recreational activity.
Or is it? Some are trying to break out of that mold, such as outgoing and publicized events like the following:
TPF had the chance to attend the East Elgin Sportmen’s Association’s (EESA) 11th Annual Open House, which was held just this weekend on the 11th & 12th of June. Being TPF’s first time at EESA, it was an awesome event to see the numbers of EESA club members which helped make this event possible. Now in its 11th year of running, the EESA Open House has continually grown and helped promote shooting for exactly what it is. A fun enjoyable recreation when performed safely. Safety is always the number one priority, with having fun a very close second. TPF talked to literally dozens of people and when asked how much they were looking forwards to the day, or how they liked their time at the open house; the answers were ALWAYS with smiles and positive attitudes.
EESA’s current president, John Evers, is a stalwart supporter of promoting shooting and encouraging people to at least know about firearms by experiences such as that offered during the EESA Open House. While appearing to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of organized chaos involved in running the open house, TPF talked to a few of the EESA members present and they agreed that the passion that Mr. Evers has is one of the top ten things that are required to make this sort of event successful. John’s skills and passionate disposition to firearms has him running several high profile roles including being a Regional Director for the CSSA and a successful media personality for firearms related issues. John has been quoted as saying that the EESA Open House is “The best weekend of the year for me.” At the end of day two of the event, he and his crew of volunteers are spent physically. Emotionally, they all love it as the event allows them to bring smiles to the faces of others and it is immensely satisfying to teach new shooters how to have fun with firearms in a safe environment.
Day one of the Open House was not the best in terms of weather with a small smattering of rain imposing itself, but when all was said and done, nearly 80 people were lined up at the entrance waiting for the event to open at 10:00am Saturday morning… Taking a quick tour around the facilities proved to be very enlightening. The various ranges were appropriated for various firearm groups. Indoor facilities were strictly for Handguns while the 85m range was dedicated to smallbore and air rifles. At the 100m range, dozens of firearms were available for use in some of the more popular calibres currently used by the shooting community Exotic and larger calibres, such as the incomparable .50BMG were located at the 300m range. By the end of the first day, the numbers showed that 586 people came through the gates to attend the open house.
The second day of the open house was less wet, but was several degrees colder during the day and the wind picked up significantly. That did not discourage the multitudes of people from flocking to the gates of EESA to have their chance at shooting one or more firearms. Not surprisingly some of the most popular firearms were AR-15’s (Of which there were at least 3 at the 100m range). Add in the additional rifles chambered in .223 Remington and it was a foregone conclusion that by 3:30PM on Sunday, there was not a single un-fired round of that calibre remaining at the entirety of EESA.
Just a listing of SOME of the firearm calibres that were being offered:
- .177 Pellet, .17 HMR
- .204 Ruger, .22 LR, .22 WMR, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington
- .270 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 7.62 x 39mm
- .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 Weatherby Magnum, .30-06 Springfield
- .338 Lapua, .375 H&H, .45/70 Government, .50 BMG
- 9 x 19mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .44 Remington Magnum, .50 Action Express
- AND MORE!!! (including the tons of 12ga)
The most convincing aspect of how much people are enticed into trying these events is obvious by the line ups for the various ranges. The longest line ups were for handguns with some people waiting nearly 90 minutes to have their chance at firing a handgun for their very first time. Their was a separate line up to shoot the custom .50 BMG rifle at the 300m range and you could hear that shot clear across the length of EESA’s property. Despite a steep cost per shot there was no shortages of takers to try out the giant .50 BMG rifle with line ups usually being thirty or forty people in length.
By the end of day two the weather was thankfully cool, the volunteer’s bodies were tired and feet sore, and the sense of another great Open House at EESA was evident. Day two’s final tally posted a record 829 attendees for a weekend total of 1415 people who attended this year’s 2011 EESA Open House. What a remarkable event dedicated to getting the public to come and try shooting for the very first time and educating those who attend that the use of a firearm can be a great source of fun and recreation.
Update: June 14th, 2011. Total round count during the 2 day event, 63565 rounds of ammuntion. That is an average of 45 rounds of ammuntion PER attendee!