While politics for the most part seems like it are getting worse and worse, there are a couple bright spots where political activists are getting it right. In the past it seemed as though political fundraising costs kept getting higher and higher and that politics were becoming the sole domain of the uber-wealthy. The price of fundraising events went from $25 and $35 to $100 and $250. Who the heck can afford those kinds of prices in today’s economy? Recently, however, I have noticed a return to some sort of financial sanity in political fundraising. I have see appeals for donations that are asking for as little as $3. Apparently the shrinking price of donation requests is working, because both major parties are sending out such requests almost hourly, asking for $3, $5, and $10 rather than $100 or more. Of course that could be because I’m on the “D” list of political contributors and not the “A”, “B”, or “C” lists.

A great example of this new practical political trend may have a significant upside for hunters and shooters. Tracy, California is a small town in California’s breadbasket, the great Central Valley. It is almost the exact opposite of the images typified by Hollywood movie stars, San Francisco hippies, or Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Tracy is in the heart of farm country, although recently it has swelled with commuters and become a distribution center serving the bigger cities. Tracy politics remain conservative, and it sends about equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to Sacramento and Washington. Tracy is also gun country and it wasn’t all that long ago that you could cruise through the local high school parking lot and spot gun racks with shotguns and .22s in the students’ pickups. No panic, no SWAT teams, just a lot of folks (including teachers) who hunted and plinked for recreation.

That’s why I wasn’t really surprised to learn that the Tracy Republican Women is hosting their 4th Annual Grill & Shoot on Saturday, August 18 from 8:00 am till 4:00 pm at the Manteca Sportsman’s Club facilities on South Airport Way, about halfway between Tracy and Manteca. Tickets are only $20 and include lunch and free use of guns as well as free ammunition. In co-operation with The Manteca Sportsman’s Club, there will be instruction in firearm safety and introduction to a wide range of shooting activities.

I talked with both Monica Dias, President of the Tracy Republican Women, and with Len Sipe, leader of the Manteca Sportsmen. They both emphasized that the event was aimed at beginning shooters and that they would provide a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere to make new shooters comfortable. There will be instructors present in all forms of recreational shooting, from small bore .22 caliber rifles to the bigger calibers, as well as shotgun, handguns, and even black powder shooting and archery. Not only will everything be provided for with the twenty dollar entry fee, but kids under 13 can participate free.

Monica tells me that she has been especially impressed with the friendly, yet professional attitude of the Sportsmen’s Club instructors. She observed “they show what you need to know to safely handle a variety of guns in a non-threatening manner”. Although sponsored by the Republican Women, the event is open to everyone who would like to know more about shooting. Good clean family fun cuts across all political lines, and Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, and even Prohibitionists are welcome to join the fun.

As a child, I recall going with my family and friends out to the local range near the Tracy Airport and having a blast. Husbands and wives would shoot and both sons and daughters too. It was a sport that everyone participated in, of course Jerry Hodges always shot better than the rest of us, but that was a given since he was our police chief and a life-long cop. In fact I recall being out shot several times by my mom with a .22 rifle. We’d bring a picnic lunch and spend the whole day there. It was great fun for everyone.

If you ever wanted to give recreational shooting a try, you might want to put the Tracy Republican Women’s Grill & Shoot on your calendar for Saturday, August 18. For tickets or more information call Monica at 209-483- 8433. I’ll be there for sure. I’m pretty fair with a rifle or handgun, but try not to laugh at my shot gunning skills. Who knows? Maybe the family fun day at the shooting range will become a staple event in the evolving American political scene. Let’s hope so!

Image by Jeremy Moyer of Luke Moyer, age 4, used with permission

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