WV

In gun debate, it’s urban vs. rural

by Chuck Raasch, USA TODAY  |  published on February 28, 2013

“Pull!”

The orange clay circle whooshes through a blue February sky, then disintegrates at the blast of a 12-gauge shotgun. Christine Fox has hit her target, and her six male skeet-shooting partners join in an “attaway” chorus.

The road to the West Virginia Sportsman’s & Firearms Association, one of scores of private shooting clubs in this state, is flanked by signs advertising church pancake breakfasts and deer crossings. Just over the hill is a tiny hamlet called Quiet Dell.

Fox, a pediatrician, comes often to this shooting sanctuary for the camaraderie and competition.

“Very much helps the self-discipline and concentration,” says Fox from tiny, nearby Fairview. She grew up in Maryland suburbs of Washington and began sport shooting two years ago, at age 49.

Scenes like this, of friends gathering to shoot the breeze along with their guns, are so commonplace across rural America that it misses the mark to call them a way of life. Shooting and hunting are life in these mountains, sure as coal mines and pickups.

It is also foreign ground for millions of Americans who have never seen a gun, much less shot one, and who might wonder why anyone needs one.

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