We received a letter to the editor from J.M. in Nelson, British Columbia who had some concerns about the “Amber Got Her Gun” story.

In Kootenay Mountain Culture #40 there’s an article by Vince Hempsall showcasing Castlegar resident Amber Berukoff who founded the West Kootenay Ladies Shooting Group (WKLSG), one of only five clubs like it in the country. One reader had this to say about the story.

J.M. writes:

Hey good folks at KMC,

Just wondering what someone’s involvement with a shooting range has to do with mountain culture? The article includes a quote about hunting, but I’m pretty sure you don’t do that with a handgun. Maybe the WKLSG founder hunts with that rifle in the picture? Sure, people can own guns and go to ranges, all good. I just don’t see a logical connection to your publication.

The line about guns being tools, not weapons, is National Rifle Association (NRA) worthy. It conveniently separates gun culture from gun violence. One only has to look over the border to see how that conviction plays out if left unchecked. Kyle Rittenhouse brought his toolbox to Kenosha. Perhaps this story was included on the merits of a woman standing out as an empowering trailblazer. Would this have run if it was a 27-year-old dude from the ‘Gar with a couple tats and a smug expression?


Amber Berukoff replies:

What is it you enjoy about the mountains? Skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking? Is it the fresh air? The peacefulness? The people you surround yourself with? What makes it all “mountain culture”?

Our local shooting ranges are nestled in the mountains. We breathe the same fresh air that the hikers do, we surround ourselves with good company like the mountain bikers do, and we feel the peace that the kayakers do. How are we not mountain culture? Shooting ranges have been in this area since the 1920s. In fact, the local Silver City Trap and Skeet Club used to be where the Trail Waneta Plaza is today. Members would shoot and then walk over to A&W where Rock Island RV is. It was tradition. And tradition becomes a part of our culture. So long as we hold onto it, the tradition and culture won’t be forgotten.

As far as the US goes, we do not have the same laws. We are incredibly governed with what we can and cannot do. Our goal, whether it is hunting or target practice, is to promote safety and to ensure everyone is following the laws. Handguns fall under target shooting restrictions and it’s a popular sport in Canada: in fact we do very well when it comes to the Olympics. How do people train for the sport? At gun ranges breathing the lovely mountain air!

And yes, I do hunt when I’m not at handgun or rifle competitions. The gun in the photo is a hunting gun as well as my long-distance target competition gun. And it was built in my store, Cantac Firearms, so the gun itself was born in Castlegar. Finally, I’m not the first BC woman to be involved with the sport: check out this story of trailblazer Gwen Spencer Hethey who started competing in shooting competitions globally in the 1930s.

For anyone looking for more information regarding handgun competitions in our area check out the Cowboy Shoot and Steel Challenge and the International Practical Shooting Confederation event, both hosted by the Castlegar Pistol Club.