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Effective Thursday, boaters in New York State were required to wear a life jacket while underway or anchored in open water. That regulation applies to all aboard a boat measuring 21 feet or less, including a canoe or kayak.

Operators of commercial vessels, those used for chartering purposes, do not have to comply with this mandatory wearing of a PFD (personal flotation device) during the Nov. 1 to April 30 regulations.

In September, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission adopted regulations similar to the life-jacket requirement begun last year in New York.

The new regulation applies to all Pennsylvania waters for boats less than 16 feet long.

As always, boating safety instructors and boating authorities recommend wearing a PFD wherever afloat whenever possible. Newer models provide storage for hunting and fishing items and even some weather protection.

To view boating regulations for New York State, go to nysparks.com/recreation/boating/documents/PFDLawsofNewYork. For the new Pennsylvania regulations and safety tips, go to fishandboat.com/safety.htm.

Guns and voting

The coming elections, nationally and locally, could have a profound effect on the rights of gun owners and shooters during upcoming legislative terms.

Political parties vary in their views of gun-owner rights; individual candidates often hold differing interpretations than those stated by their affiliated party.

To review candidates’ positions and their ranking with national and state organizations before Election Day on Nov. 6, check out two websites that offer a wide range of information for gun owners, shooters and hunters. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has a site at nssf.org/gunvote; the Shooters Committee on Political Education rates candidates and discusses issues at scopeny.org/listmanager/election2012alert.

Educators honored

The Great Lakes Sea Grant Extension Network presented Outstanding Outreach Awards for public education to New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist Helen M. Domske of the Buffalo office for her “Dose of Reality” campaign on water quality useful to coordinators in New York and nearby states.

NYSG Fisheries Specialist David B. MacNeill at the Oswego office received a Superior Outreach Award for developing a workshop on trawling and fisheries management.

Ranges on the rise

Following a federal survey that reported an increase in angler and hunter participation during a five-year period, the ShooterSurvey, which studies yearly statistics, showed an increase in shooting-range participation.

A survey of more than 5,000 shooting enthusiasts saw a six percent increase in shooting range and sporting clay club activity.

Survey coordinators point out that 68 percent of those active shooters participate but do not hold membership in shooting range clubs. Officials encourage range and club planners to focus on drawing new, youth and women shooters to events by upgrading range options and club facilities to accommodate new gunners of all legal ages, gender and skill levels.

For a complete report on these findings, go to ShooterSurvey.com.

email: odrswill@gmail.com