It is almost always overlooked but the backbone of the National Rifle Association is its members. It is this group of citizens who are, in fact, the NRA.

There are many groups in the United States that wish their members were so dedicated to a cause and did as good a job of financial support. The fact that members come from many walks of life – doctors, lawyers, coal miners and farmers to name just a few – mix together at an NRA function as equals with fine ideas in mind. They all support the second amendment of the constitution. After all, it is this piece of paper, written by a group of the smartest men in the country at the time, that is the law of the land today. It is this set of rules and rights that separate us from other countries and for these rights we would go to war with Europe. James Madison would not sign the constitution without the second amendment, which is strongly supported by the members of the NRA.

One of the many moneyraisers of the NRA is the fundraising banquet held by Friends of the NRA. This year’s dinner will be held at 5 p.m. at Valley Inn Social Hall at 34 Snyder Avenue in Monongahela. The many prizes offered will include rifles, handguns and just about anything related to the shooting sports. No one regrets the misuse of firearms more than the members of the NRA and few persons do as much to teach gun safety to both adults and youth. Nothing supports the constitution of this country more than the NRA’s members. More information about the banquet can be had by calling Johnsons’ Sporting Goods at 724-225-9616 or stop in at their store on Brownlee Road in Eighty Four.

I see that the borough of Marianna has voted to keep the dam situated on Ten Mile Creek in the borough. For myself, I am glad to see that a rare prime fishing spot will be saved. The water below the dam is a series of nice fishing holes. It is fast-moving water for this area of the state and has plenty of cover, which are holding spots for trout and other fish. The dam also provides deeper water upstream above the structure with places to fish for early season trout. In Western Pennsylvania, such places are few and far between and I would hate to see another one go by th

  • e wayside.

Marianna is a small community, and with the closing of the coal mines it could use the increase in visitors. Last year, a group of local sportsmen cleared a space along Daniels Run, which empties into Ten Mile. They made a good parking spot and cleared an access to this small stream. More of this can and should be done but there is always that matter of money. Isn’t that always the problem? Perhaps the fish commission could be of some help in the form of stocking and other things. While I am aware of the added threat of taking on responsibility of owning the dam, the fish commission could be a big help without ownership.

  • Again, like previous years, groundhog hunting has fallen on hard times. In places where I shot 5 to 10 groundhogs in a day, I now am likely to spot 1 or 2 ravaging the clover fields. It is even worse up north where hunters would see 10 to 20 groundhogs and now see none in a few hours.

While disliked by most farmers, the groundhog has done more to improve accuracy in rifles than any other animal. Talk to a serious groundhog hunter and you will be talking to a marksman. This is the hunter who demands top accuracy from his rifle, scope combo and usually his reloads. He understands ballistics internal, external and terminal better than most for a simple reason. He needs to just hit a 10-pound animal at ranges of 400 yards or farther. Because I still see groundhogs near man-made buildings and roadsides, I believe it is coyotes that are decreasing the groundhog population and they are here to stay.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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