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Local Virginia Government Attempts to Prevent Safe Hunting Practices

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Nelson County Tries to Stop Orion Sporting Group From Conducting Hunter Safety Procedures

Everyone knows that education and training is one of the keys to encouraging firearms safety. Yet, a rural county in Virginia seeks to prevent Orion Sporting Group, LLC. from encouraging safety practices prior to legally sanctioned hunts at its 450-acre hunting preserve.

The Nelson County government has filed a legal injunction against basic firearms safety in an effort to stop safety warm-up practice before hunters conduct actual upland game bird hunts.

"Orion`s safe hunting practices are not against the law anywhere in America," said Orion Estate Managing Director Morris Peterson.

Hunting preserves use simulated hunting for training and safety purposes, he noted. Like other game preserves, Orion takes prudent measures to ensure that each hunter knows and follows basic gun safety procedures to prevent accidents and injuries.

"The county apparently doesn`t mind hunters shooting at live game birds, rocks, tree stumps, tin cans or even just at the sky," said Peterson. "However, the message we`re receiving is that shooting clay targets to ensure safety and proper shooting and hunting procedures are followed is wrong. Actions such as these by Nelson County may well serve to truly damage the sport of hunting in Virginia."

Orion, a shooting preserve licensed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, conducts a variety of upland game bird hunts for groups of up to 16 hunters. Each hunt would normally be preceded by a specially designed simulated hunting practice with clay and helice targets. This gives Orion personnel the opportunity to professionally observe and correct any unsafe gun handling practices or habits before hunters go into the field. It also serves to help hunters to humanely harvest game.

The county claims that Orion is prohibited from allowing any shooting at clay targets because the county had earlier refused to allow Orion to construct and operate a shotgun sports center as part of its licensed hunting preserve. That is the subject of an ongoing suit in which Orion claims violation under the Virginia constitution, which protects the right to hunt.

"In disregard of its own code and of due process of law, Nelson County bypassed established procedures, and filed its injunction motion in Orion`s already existing court case against the county," said Steve Raynor, a senior member of Orion`s legal team.

"Perhaps the county skipped required hearings with its zoning board because it would be tough to prove that shooting at clay targets causes imminent peril to life or property," said Stephen Halbrook Orion`s lead legal counsel. "Ironically, the only potential peril to life or property would arise if the county prevents Orion from taking prudent safety measures."

A court date for the hearing has been set for March 24, 2005 on the county`s motion for an injunction against gun safety.

Orion`s right to hunt legal case against Nelson County goes to trial on April 20, 2005. To view the brief on the right to hunt filed in the lawsuit Orion Sporting Group LLC. v. Nelson County visit www.stephenhalbrook.com.

About the Orion Estate Orion is an International Sporting Estate situated on 450 acres, offering a diverse landscape containing open fields, rolling wooded terrain, deep forest, creeks, a scenic lake, and over one half mile of picturesque James River frontage. The Orion Estate plans to use this rural property to develop a sporting facility, where sportsmen and women, and outdoor enthusiasts can experience the splendor of the Virginia countryside and traditional sporting lifestyles. The Orion Estate is composed of a licensed hunting preserve, shooting grounds including a multidisciplined shotgun sports center, event grounds and corporate training facility all presented in a distinctive rural atmosphere along the banks of the historic James River in the piedmont of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For more information visit the Orion Estate website at www.OrionEstate.com or contact Mr. James Slaughter, General Manager at (434) 263-6622.

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