Q&A With U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA)
Who introduced you to hunting/the shooting sports and at what age?
My Dad first introduced me to hunting. He took me hunting well before I got to use a gun, so we used to go all over the central area of Virginia from Hanover County, to Essex County, to Caroline County to hunt quail. He took me along as soon as I was able to walk. I will never forget trying to get through the briars and he would say, “You can either get through those briars or we will leave you here!” I went with him hunting at an early age, without a gun. My father would let me use his gun, it was a twelve-gauge so it had a kick to it, but I was about eight or nine when I first used it. I remember he bought me an old 12-gauge, single barrel, H&R shotgun that I took with me bird hunting. I first used that gun when I was twelve, I had to first show him that I could safely operate the gun, of course. The thing I would always look forward to after we would go hunting would be that my dad would let me put a tin can up on a tree and shoot the tin can with the shotgun.
What was your most recent shooting sports/hunting activity? With whom?
Most recently was this Spring when I went turkey hunting on my farm, and it was just me. I really enjoyed my time there, it was a great morning.
Describe your favorite shooting sport/hunting activity? Which hunt? Which gun? Where? What species?
I love turkey hunting and goose hunting. I have a 12-gauge Browning Maxus and a Beretta 12-gauge that I use. I like both of those sports because for geese it’s fooling the geese with calling and decoys and the same with turkeys. There is a challenge to that, to outwit an animal.
Which piece of pending legislation related to the firearms industry is particularly important to you and why?
I think it is important to increase access and grow the sport. There is legislation pending now that would allow shooting ranges on public lands. I think providing more shooting sports opportunities and activities for folks is a very legitimate use of public lands.
What do you see as the challenges and opportunities for hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts in this congressional session?
Outdoor sporting activities, including hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, are deeply ingrained in the fabric of America’s culture and heritage. Values instilled by partaking in these activities are passed down from generation to generation and play a significant part in the lives of millions of Americans. We must maintain access to these sports to help ensure that the current and future generations of sportsmen and -women are able to enjoy the sporting activities our country has to offer. Sportsmen and women are also conservationists. Through licensing fees and excise taxes on sporting goods, sportsmen and women in North America have conserved millions of acres of wildlife habitat. I think the key is to make sure that we are looking at those efforts that would impede the enjoyment of outdoor sports – whether that is issues with firearms or access.
This interview was done by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF is the firearms industry trade association.