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Bernie Revering column: What is the state of the arms industry?

The arms industry is doing extremely well. There's no recession here. Both civilian sales of sporting arms and military gear has found acceptance, and the industry is making guns and ammunition to meet the world's needs.

The conglomerate which includes Belgian's FN, America's Winchester firearms and the expansive line of Browning is setting records. The Winchester Model 70 rifle has returned to its former quality with a great fit and finish. No, it isn't selling at any bargain prices, but it is evident that sportsmen are willing to pay a premium to get the original or its equal. Browning just made its millionth Citori over-under, and presented it to the National Rifle Association for auction.

Remington isn't sleeping either. Now a part of a huge combo of arms makers, the Big Green has signed on former Packers' quarterback Brett Favre, who will tramp the game fields of the world, carrying Remington's shotguns and rifles. Remington's military sales recently landed a $1.7 million dollar contract with the U.S. Military to build 1,400 tactical shotguns, based on their Model 870 slide action gun. Intended for use in the terrorism units, the thing is indeed ugly, with its black finish, shortened barrel and full-length magazine, it is no thing of beauty.

Beretta U.S.A. continues to produce its 9mm pistol for the armed forces and the other agencies of the United States. The sporting variety of this and other Beretta handguns are also setting sales records. Seems there is a broad market for handguns in the U.S.A. for sport and protection, and Beretta, Ruger, Smith & Wesson along with Colt and some imports are being snatched up. Handguns are a bit more difficult to obtain through licensed dealers, but legitimate sportsmen with no felony records aren't deterred. Glock and Sig Arms, Austrian imports are top choices as well.

Mergers and acquisitions are common in the arms industry. Remington's parent company has taken over Marlin and the excellent line of lever-action center fire and rimfire rifles continues to be available. The great Thompson-Center single shot pistol with its wide range of acceptability is now a part of Smith & Wesson. There are fewer retail outlets for firearms now, and the big box stores are prominent. But independent dealers still have large stocks of sporting arms. In spite of somewhat lower numbers of wild game -- with the exception of deer -- guns are an attractive buy for sportsmen in America. The arms industry is doing a good job of supplying the needs.

High achievements in shotgun shooting

Fourteen-year-old Tony Friesen is a cool, competent shotgun artist.

Nothing pleases a parent more than to see his kids achieve high levels of success in sports. Unique indeed is the ability level of Tony Friesen, the son of Brett and Stacy Friesen. Tony has been named to the sub-junior team as Captain for 2008, having achieved greatness again at the annual Amateur Trap Shooting Association's Grand American Tournament. This was held last August in Sparta, Ill., where it's hot in late summer! Beatin ' the heat and the pressures of competition, Tony posted an average of .9317 -- a truly remarkable level.

The Friesen family motored to the site of the great shoot at its new grounds. Tony participated in the grueling matches every day, which involved the singles targets along with handicap and doubles. The average is a composite of all three.

Tony's shotgun is a customized Krieghoff Model 32, manufactured in Ulm, Germany, and provided by his dad. Tony is justifiably proud of the gun, which is a beauty indeed.

Tony's younger sister, Jona, is also an accomplished gun pointer! She was on the firing line as well, and is an enthusiastic distaff competitor. Her competition average is a very respectable .7680 last season.

Brett and Stacy can only provide the shotgun, its ammunition and the opportunity to shoot in competition. The rest is up to the juniors, and obviously they have the competitive spirit, endurance, and ability to get the job done. Tony's captaincy of the sub junior squad for the ATA is indeed an achievement that few young people will assail.

Aid your gun club

Again this year, the Becker County Sportsmen's Club will be selling a chance on a new $50,000 GMC sport truck. For just $5 you can buy a chance on the vehicle, donated every year by the GMC Corporation of Detroit.

The club gets to keep $3 of the fee, and returns the remainder to the ATA headquarters in Vandalia, Ohio. The chances are a good deal for all concerned. Buy one next time you're at the shooting grounds.