Jul 29, 2023

Where can you ride an e

For those who like to shoot rifles and pistols, the sound from the gun can literally be deafening.

In addition to the shots being loud, the noise can cause some shooters to flinch when pulling the trigger, causing the shot to miss its mark.

Adding a sound suppressor can improve it in both ways, according to Mike Bleil, sales consultant for Silencer Central. He was working at the USA International Sportsmen’s Show and Outdoor Recreation & Travel Show Friday in Monroeville.

The National Firearms Act includes sound suppressors in its Class 3 category of short barrel firearms, and these items can only be owned by those who are approved through the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). That tax stamp costs $200. Fingerprints and a photo are required.

There are 42 states that allow silencers and 41 that include hunting.

In Pennsylvania, he said, “It’s 100% legal to own and hunt with.”

Titanium suppressors come in different sizes. One common model for a rifle is 5.5 inches long with a weight of less than 8 ounces.

Bleil compared the sound of a common deer hunting rifle using a suppressor to the sound of a small rimfire caliber used for small game: “A .308 will be down quieter than a .22.”

The sound decreases about 34 decibels. “One of the most fun things to shoot suppressed is a .22. You can get down to where it’s almost like pellet gun quiet,” he said.

To install a suppressor, it can be screwed directly on the end of a threaded barrel. For a gun that does not have threads on the end of it, a local gunsmith can create threads that accept a suppressor, at a cost of about $100. Don't have a local gunsmith? Bleil said his company offers a service where people can ship their guns and have the guns prepared to accept a suppressor.

Prices for suppressors vary based on the gun and the suppression needs. He said a basic .22 suppressor costs about $500, but for larger calibers, the prices can go as high as $1,300 to $1,500. A popular option is a $999 model for deer hunters.

Regarding accuracy, the scope may have to be adjusted after installing a suppressor, he said.

“Having that on the end of the barrel changes the harmonics,” he said. However once your scope is realigned, the shooter experiences better accuracy. “You’ll get the recoil benefits of a muzzle brake and then some, 40 to 50% recoil reduction with a suppressor,” he said.

With less noise and recoil, the shooter has a more pleasant experience and becomes less prone to flinching.

For hunters, having a suppressor helps protect the ears during the shot, and it may help with with getting a second shot on wary game, he said.

“They (animals like deer or coyotes) will still hear a report but may be confused enough to give you time for a follow-up shot," he said.

Some hunters are also using e-bikes for their trips. We found some of them at the Outdoor Show as well.

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Consider an e-bikeAs e-bike use grows, Pennsylvania looks to accommodate riders in state parks, forests

In December the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources approved a policy to allow bikes with pedal assist electric motors on areas that are already approved for bicycles. Riders can’t exceed 20 miles per hour while using their motors.

Steve Smolenski, owner of JoltBike Electric Bike Company in Waltersburg (Uniontown) in Fayette County, has been selling e-bikes for about three years for people to ride in various places including the Great Allegheny Passage trail that spans 150 miles between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

“My tagline is 'Go farther,'” Smolenski said. “It’s been proven that people are going three times farther on the e-bike and getting the same or more exercise as (pedal only bikes).”

E-bikes also help people get back on trails later in life.

“About 90% of my customers are 65 and older wanting to get back on bikes, and they haven’t been on a bike in 25 years. It excites me because it’s getting them healthy, getting them off the couch and outdoors,” he said,

The distance most e-bike batteries travel is about 35 to 40 miles. Some go 20 to 25 miles based on the weight of the rider and the number of hills they drive over. Higher end models can go 60 miles, he explained.

“Most of the time people on pedal bikes are going faster than the electric bikes,” he said noting the 20 mph speed limit with motors assisting a rider.

At the show he had several e-bikes on display including one for about $2,800 that had motors for both wheels to help cyclists get through rough terrain. Some hunters use e-bikes to get farther into the woods. You add accessories to hold a fishing pole, gun or bow and they are equipped to pull a cart that can carry their gear or a deer.

“They are not dirt bikes, the realism is that you still have to put a little effort into them,” he said about comparing them to traditional gas powered motorbikes.

“But it’s amazing, the power on some of these bikes,” he said. “These bikes will definitely help you explore more territory."

About 3,800 miles of state forest trails are open to mountain biking, and of those, 447 miles within 11 state forests are specifically designated and maintained for mountain biking.

Riders shouldn’t assume that e-bikes are welcome everywhere. Other lands open to the public in Pennsylvania (such as federal lands, local parks and preserves) have different requirements related to e-bikes. E-bike users should check the guidelines for their destination before they go. For example e-bikes are not permitted on state game lands.

Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him [email protected] and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on this website's homepage under your login name. Follow him on Facebook@whipkeyoutdoors ,Twitter@whipkeyoutdoors and Instagram atwhipkeyoutdoors.

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