Published February 02, 2013
The White House has released a photograph of President Obama skeet shooting at Camp David -- some proof for critics skeptical about whether Obama, amid efforts to tighten gun control, saying he takes target practice at the presidential retreat and that he has a “profound respect” of the tradition of hunting.
The official photo apparently depicts Obama – wearing protective glasses and earmuffs -- firing the shotgun Aug. 4, 2012. It was released Friday on the White House’s Flickr account.
The back-and-fourth about whether the president indeed shoots clay targets – or “pigeons” – started after The New Republic on Sunday release an interview with the president in which he was asked if he had ever fired a gun.
"Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," Obama said. "Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there. And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake."
The president, some fellow Democrats in the Senate and others have pushed for tighter gun control since the Dec. 14 shootings inside a Connecticut elementary school in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed. Senate hearings on the issue started this week.
Whether the photo will silence those skeptical about the president’s experience handling a firearm remains unclear.
"The president is holding the shotgun as one would hold and aim a rifle," said John H. Josselyn, legislative vice president for the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore Inc. "If the president were actually shooting on a skeet or trap range, he would have been wearing a belt with a shell bag or a shooting vest. This is a poorly staged publicity photo intended to deceive the public by portraying the president as something he is not."
Josselyn is a certified firearms instructor for the National Rifle Association and Maryland State Police.
Chris Chenowith, a member of the Carney Rod and Gun Club, outside Baltimore, pointed out the president has his right hand pretty far up the barrel.
"It gets awfully warm up there," he said. "He might have shot the gun like that, but not more than once."
The president has only been skeet shooting a couple of times at Camp David, a source who says he has been to the retreat on a half-dozen visits with Obama told FoxNews.com earlier this week.
"The only time he shot skeet was for President's Cup," said the source, referring to a shooting competition tradition involving the presidential Marine guards. "I was there. He stayed for about five minutes, and couldn't leave fast enough."
The source also said a friend recalled Obama skeet shooting one other time at Camp David -- very early in his first term.
The recently released photo is from the later part of Obama’s first term and provides information for which the press has asked over the past several days.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters earlier this week that he was unsure about how often the president shoots at Camp David.
Carney also said no photos had been released “because when (Obama) goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs."
"There may be” a photo," he said, "but I haven't seen it."
FoxNews' Jana Winter contributed to this report.