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OPINION | ARKANSAS SPORTSMAN: Fiocchi to invest in Mayflower shooting range

by Bryan Hendricks | March 19, 2023 at 2:34 a.m.

Besides building an ammunition primer plant in Little Rock, Fiocchi Ammunition is making a strong financial commitment to the shooting sports in our state.

When he became director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 2021, Austin Booth began brainstorming with Deke Whitbeck, president of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, about how to strengthen corporate presence in the conservation community. The Game and Fish Foundation is composed of many of the most prominent names in Arkansas business, which gives the AGFF a strong position to leverage support from other members of the business community

Conservation and shooting are inextricably linked. Hunters and recreational shooters fund a huge percentage of conservation in America through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.

Enacted in 1937, Pittman-Robertson levied a 10% excise tax on handguns and an 11% excise tax on long guns, firearms parts and accessories, and ammunition. The money goes into the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund and is distributed to the states according to a formula based on a state's acreage and its number of licensed hunters. Arkansas is a fairly large state that has a lot of hunters, so the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission gets a lot of grants from the Pittman-Robertson fund.

A priority of the Pittman-Robertson Act is to promote recreational shooting through the building of shooting ranges. Arkansas has quietly become a major manufacturing hub for the firearms industry, most recently with Fiocchi's announcement that it will build a primer plant at the Port of Little Rock.

Fiocchi is eager to expand its footprint into the consumptive and recreational recruiting arenas. We are told that Fiocchi has made a commitment to contribute a significant sum over the next three years to improve, enhance and expand the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's shooting range at Mayflower.

That's a big statement from a new arrival to establish itself in a state where Remington is so prominent with its own ammunition plant and its own sporting clays range. We are told that Fiocchi hopes its financial commitment will cause a ripple effect that will encourage the business community at large to invest in the shooting sports.

Firearms, recreational shooting, and, by extension, hunting, are perceived unfairly because of the way some people misuse firearms, and also because the way the entertainment industry glorifies the misuse of firearms. For an ammunition manufacturer to promote recreational shooting in our community is a refreshing counterpoint.

Fly Fishing Film Tour

The Arkansas Fly Fishers will bring the Fly Fishing Film Tour back to Little Rock on April 8 at the Central Arkansas Library System Ron Robinson Theater.

Proceeds will benefit Project Healing Waters, Casting for Recovery and The Mayfly Project. These groups serve veterans with post traumatic stress syndrome, breast cancer combatants, and foster children through fly fishing.

This year's festival will feature nine short films showing fly fishing adventures around the world.

"Four of a Kind" explores two anglers' trip to Oman to catch their fourth and final permit species.

"Wading for Change" documents a Latino man's fly fishing journey to the streams of the West.

"After You've Gone" is about a woman who copes with grief by fly fishing for trout and dorado in the Adirondacks and Argentina.

"The Belt Buckle" is about an annual fly fishing competition among friends to possess a coveted belt buckle for a year.

"Steve's Red" is about an angler's quest to catch a trophy redfish in the Louisiana marsh.

"Cape York" is about fly fishing in the saltwater of remote northern Australia for Anak permit and barramundi.

"Bleed Water" is a journey through the trout waters of New England, which were once so polluted that they were considered uninhabitable.

"The Holy Well" chronicles the misadventures of a group of hard luck anglers that finally get it right.

"Cache of Gold" is about a group of friends chasing golden trout in some of the most remote parts of the eastern Sierras."

"Sebalo" takes us flyfishing in Cuba, made famous by Ernest Hemingway but almost completely off limits since the 1950s.

Tickets cost $15 and are available at

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