1st Annual Silencers Are Legal Shoot
By Chris A. Choat

The 1st Annual Silencers Are Legal Shoot (www.silencersarelegal.com) was held April 28, 2012. This shoot, sponsored by a host of silencer, firearms, ammunition, target, hearing protection manufacturers, gun trust lawyers and others was designed to bring these entities together with shooters and potential buyers of silencers to give a hands-on education into the intricacies of buying and owning suppressors or suppressed firearms. The shoot was held at the Elm Fork Shooting Range (www.elmfork.com) right in the heart of Dallas, Texas. This range encompasses 467 acres and includes trap and skeet ranges, a 5 station dove course, a 100 yard rifle range, several pistol ranges, ranges with steel pop-up targets, a western themed range, pro shops and a clubhouse. They offer shooting and firearms education courses for everyone from beginners to advanced shooters. The range employees 30 full-time people and even more on weekends and on special occasions such as this shoot. They say they have in the range of 600 shooters per day pass through on any given weekend. The range RO’s are all NRA certified with most having military or law enforcement backgrounds and are very professional and polite. According to range officials almost 1,800 people attended the 1st annual silencer event with another 1,600 using the other ranges that day.

The proceeds of this shoot went to benefit the American Silencer Association (ASA) (www.americansilencierassociation.com). The ASA is a non-profit trade association whose mission is, “To further the pursuit of education, public relations, legislation, hunting applications and military applications for the silencer industry.” The parent companies responsible for the incorporation of the ASA are Silencerco/SWR, Advanced Armament Corp. and Gemtech. While these three companies are competitors, they all recognize the need of creating a single voice to educate the public and to be the advocate for silencer rights.

The shoot was a 1-day affair, held on a Saturday. The weather was perfect being in the mid 80s to lower 90s. The morning was a bit breezy but the wind died down by lunch time. Lunch was served at the shoot and was included in the price of admission, which was a very reasonable, $15. Raffle tickets were sold on chances to win some outstanding prizes that included P-Mags, firearm trusts, AR-15 uppers in 300 Blackout, scopes, SureFire muzzle brakes, medic courses, rifle and pistol bags, steel targets, electronic hearing protection and a host of other items as well as a boatload of suppressors. Several attendees went home with suppressors and other related prizes valued at well over $1,000 for the price of a $10 raffle ticket.

All live fire at the range during the shoot had to be suppressed. It was pleasant to be able to cover the shoot and not have to wear earmuffs. The exception was if you happened to be at the rifle range when someone would touch off a suppressed Barrett .50 cal. Even though the suppressor worked very well, the noise generated was not “naked” ear friendly. The term “baffled” when used to describe this range meant that bridge timbers, covered with steel panels, spanned across the top of the ranges so that you shoot under them. The baffles were also filled with gravel to form several impenetrable layers that will even stop the .50 BMG round. These baffles will stop any stray or ricocheted bullet from leaving the range. The only drawback to these baffles was that they seemed to amplify the sound of the suppressed guns to the point that they sounded louder than they actually were. This is a minor point when you consider the safety that they provided.

Most all of the major suppressor manufacturers were in attendance providing samples of their products that shooters could examine, take apart and even shoot. Some manufacturers even provided the firearms and the ammunition to try out their wares. Shooters could also bring their own firearms, if the barrels were threaded, along with their “homegrown” suppressed ammunition to see which suppressors sounded best to them. Talk about a “try it before you buy it” experience, this was it. Not only were the manufacturers present but also their dealer/distributors were there so suppressors could be ordered on the spot. Between both the manufacturers and the dealers, potential buyers were guided through the paperwork that needed to be submitted to get approval to own these Class III items. There were also several ammunition vendors in attendance so that shooters could purchase as much ammo as their pocketbooks would allow.

There is a certain ominous mystique that is always thought of when the subject of suppressors or silencers is talked about. This is usually thought of in terms of the dark side of the issue, that they are used as assassination tools, that they are illegal to own or only used by evil doers. The positive side of suppressors ownership includes being able to shoot without earmuffs or ear plugs, which allows the shooter to be more aware of his situational environment. The U.S. military is already thinking of making it a requirement that all issued firearms be suppressed.

Sight is generally thought of in terms of a 180 degree sense while hearing is a 360 degree sense, meaning that your eyes let you be aware of things in front of and off to the side but your ears let you know what’s happening in front of, to the side as well as behind you. With the advent of electronic hearing protection these devices help you to overcome the disadvantage of earplugs or traditional earmuffs but most still do not let you know which direction the sound is coming from. Being able to not have to have any ear protection really helps your awareness in a tactical environment.

It is a proven fact that suppressors make the host firearms more accurate. By eliminating the sharp report of the firearm the shooter can almost eliminate any “flinch” associated with shooting. This allows the shooter to concentrate more and obtain the utmost accuracy with their guns. Not only that but shooting with the added weight of a suppressor on the end of the barrel helps to eliminate muzzle flip so that the shooter can get back on target faster for that second shot if it is needed. In most cases suppressors even tame recoil to a certain degree.

As the name says, The Silencer Shoot is scheduled to be an annual event. In talking to promoters as well as attendees and vendors this year’s shoot was an outstanding success. While vendors confided that there were a few “tire kickers,” the majority of the people that attended were there to learn about suppressor ownership and about the technical aspects of the mechanics of how suppressors worked. As technology advances so do things like machining techniques, suppressor design as well as firearms and ammunition manufacture. This year’s latest and greatest “thing” may be next year’s outdated design. It will be very interesting to see what is available at next year’s shoot. At this time the date and details of next years shoot have not been set, but we’ll be sure to let you know the details as they become available.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review SAW (November 2012)
and was posted online on October 12, 2012


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