There was a brief outage on the Twitter this afternoon. I was delightfully amused, when it came back up, at the number of Twitterers tweeting "is Twitter down for you?" That's very reminiscent of all the ISPs out there whose help message included the line:
If you have trouble connecting to the service, email us at ...
One of my favorite Snarktopian blogs is the most excellent Rumproast. For me it's an almost daily read. So, imagine my surprise and delight that StrangeAppar8us took notice of the wicked crazy coming out of Helena. You simply have to love the title of the post:
Montana, Land of the angry hat-people.
The caption to the AP picture of Timmy Ravndal, and his leather bar get-up, had me laughing out loud:
Members of the Lewis and Clark Tea Party Movement hold “Pirates and Cowboys Dress-Up Day” at the State Capitol in Helena.
There's a thoroughly enjoyable article in the Missoulian today concerning the atlatl and atlatl hunting. I suggest that all give it a read.
Smiles and frivolity aside, however, I have a concern here that no one seems to want to address just yet. No, it isn't that Hinkle's SB 112 is a frivolous waste of the legislature's valuable time. A great deal of verbiage has already been spent on that score. My complaint isn't that this bill would only favor the rare hobbyist like Atlatl Bob. No, my concern is born of a healthy respect for weapons of any kind, and hunting as the killing endeavor that it is.
Sometime about 15 years ago (?), the state of Montana decided that bow hunters needed to attend and pass a bow hunter's safety course before getting a license to hunt. Yes, I'm quite well aware that bow hunters who had previously had such a license (and could prove it) were grandfathered in. Unless legally prohibited, any Montana resident above the age of 18 can get a rifle license. But you have to pass bow's hunter's safety to get your bow license, regardless of hunting experience or experience shooting a bow. The reasons stated were these. A bow and arrow, though not as lethal as a rifle at distance, are more difficult to aim and shoot making bow hunting a greater hazard for other hunters. An arrow, quite physically, does not have the killing capacity of a bullet, which ups the number of wounded and wasted prey animals. Bow hunting has a private season and thus requires different training, camouflage and the like. Yeah, I know that last one is kinda silly. I thought so too at the time.
If one wants to train with a bow, there's plenty of places to do it. There are archery ranges, stump shooting in National Forests. Hell, if you have appropriate safety and your squeamish neighbors don't complain, you can probably do it in your back yard. Atlatls are a different beasty. They require more room at the point of launch, and they are a much harder weapon to get even an approximation of accuracy with. That whole "know your target and beyond" thingy goes right out the window with a weapon one is just learning to use. (For the record, yes, I've used an atlatl. I wasn't teh awful, but accuracy takes a lot of practice. I got pretty good at hurling a stick 50 yards with no discernible point of target. These things require training for the safety of oneself and anyone downrange.)
Hinkle's bill would allow anyone, novice or otherwise, to buy a rifle license and pick up a spear, dart or sharpened stick. And you, my hunting friends, get to share the woods with these armed individuals. The saving grace is that one can only hunt with a spear/dart during rifle season, so they have to wear orange, just like the rest of us. Most bow hunters I know give up the bow during rifle season, because by the time they've crept within range of the game, some dude or dudette with a .308 has already planted the animal. Atlatl hunting during rifle season would be at best useless, (unless you're hunting in your own private back 40, and why the hell do we need a law for that?). At worst, it would be dangerous to those sharing the woods around our modern Neanderthals.
So I really want to know when the state will mandate atlatl hunter's safety ...