I am not one to reject new technology, in fact I often embrace it. But I also don’t accept every new gadget and gizmo that comes along. With firearms, my tastes run a large gamut. I love revolvers, but I have come to like polymer framed semi-auto pistols a great deal. Bolt action rifles are my favorites, but levers, pumps, and semi-autos, including MSRs all have a place in my gun world. Shotguns must be blued steel and walnut, although I’ll make a tiny exception for a soggy, cold goose blind.
Technology has changed the shooting and hunting sports greatly in the last 40 years. Improvements in engineering, metallurgy and components, ammunition, optics, and related gear have greatly increased competition scores and made it much more likely that long shots on game will produce meals on the table.
National governing bodies keep competitions in the shooting sports fairly equal for all competitors. While more and better equipment can really help shooters reach their potential, it doesn’t guarantee success. Take it from an experienced trap shooter who has been well equipped, but still beaten by a teenager with a fifty year old Model 10 field gun. The cream really does rise to the top.
The hunting world is not that easily policed, and one of the problems is just how much technology should we allow into the realm of sport hunting. Range finders aid in the proper placement of a shot, I have one. GPS units tell us where we are and in the process keep us safe and prevent us from trespassing. However, a new product from Remington® has the potential to create a big ethical dilemma.
The Remington®2020™ is, according to an October 13, 2013 press release “…Digital Optic System revolutionizes long-range accuracy by combining hand-selected rifles, matched ammunition, digital optics and target-tracking technology into an integrated shooting system.” With this system one can “tag and track” a target; in other words the hunter can lock onto a game animal, make a few adjustments to the firing solution, line up the dots, and BOOM. The entire scenario can be streamed to smart phone, or be recorded or streamed via Wi-Fi.
We have come from throwing rocks and spears, bows and arrows, black powder guns with primitive sights, to extremely high powered rifles with excellent optics that allow hunters to place their shots with great precision at long distances. Do we really need a computer to shoot a deer? Will we lose our ability to stalk wild game? In my world, pulling the trigger on a computer generated firing solution is not fair chase, nor does it offer the rewarding feeling of accomplishment I get after a hard grueling stalk on a wary wapiti or dodging deer. And finally, how long will it be before someone is able to sit on their couch, Wi-Fi tablet in hand, and from hundreds, perhaps even thousands of miles away, hit the touch screen trigger icon that fires a gun that launches a bullet that takes a game animal?
The new Remington® system has potential to do a lot of good in law enforcement and military applications, but not in the hunting fields. Fair chase has to mean something real and tangible. Cold autumn mornings, fresh snow, the smell of pine, a wood fired cook stove, and of course, bacon in the breakfast pan; all are part of our hunting heritage. For me, computers and Wi-Fi absolutely do not belong in that heritage.
Be safe and good shooting.