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28
Virginia justices refuse to hear hunting claim
By the Associated Press
February 28, 2006
RICHMOND, Va. -- A Nelson County sportsmen's business has failed in its attempt to argue before the Virginia Supreme Court that shooting at clay targets is hunting.

Justices refused to hear an appeal by Orion Sporting Group LLC of a Circuit Court judge's ruling in June. The business had argued that the target shooting was protected by the state constitution, which guarantees the right to hunt.

Orion had sued the Nelson Board of Supervisors after the board refused it a special-use permit to operate a shotgun sports center at its hunting preserve where customers would shoot at clay targets.

Orion claimed that the right to hunt included the right to learn how to hunt and harvest game safely, proficiently and humanely by practice shooting at clay targets.

The state high court on Friday found "no reversible error" in the ruling by Circuit Judge Michael Gamble, who concluded the activity was not hunting.

"The constitutional question in my mind was not a close fight," Nelson Commonwealth's Attorney Phil Payne said Monday.

Nelson officials said their decision to not allow the shotgun sporting center was a land-use issue, citing safety and noise concerns raised by neighbors.

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