Why We Shoot

11

Perfect “first-timer” pistols. A Smith & Wesson Victory and suppressed M&P 22 Compact.
No noise, no recoil and no flinch ­— but plenty of smiles.

Some of you entered this world, kicking and cursing, brandishing a custom 1911 in each hand — likely scaring the living hell out of the midwife. Some of us, including me, came to appreciate the joys and satisfaction of shooting later in life. Often mid-course corrections result from some significant event; sometimes positive and sometimes terrifying.

On occasion, a few of us experience a rude awakening, changing our views on guns — radically. My wife is a shooting boss, has been carrying for decades and most of her friends know it. One of her core group of ladies had always been militant, and vocal, about her opposition to guns. One night as the half-dozen friends exited the local Piccadilly Cafeteria, they noticed a shady character hanging around their cars. Tampa, Florida suburbs aren’t exactly the south side of Chicago, but there’s more than enough violent crime to go around, so the skeezy guy caused some concern. Without the slightest recognition of hypocrisy, the hoplophobic friend turned to my wife and asked, “You DO have your gun, right?” Yeah, I know. She didn’t end up changing her views, but others in the group did, so the encounter resulted in some good for all of us.

In my case, it took a violent crime to wake me from my apathetic stupor. While my childhood home didn’t include firearms, there was no active opposition to the idea – just a lack of interest. Later, having a wife and young kids of my own, I figured out the hard way I was shockingly unprepared. It’s a long and involved story, and I wouldn’t want to diminish the training value by condensing it, so we’ll save it for another time. Let’s just say my outlook on the world of firearms for self-defense did a 180 in about 0.0007 picoseconds.

My favorite “come to shooting” moments happen at the range when teaching first timers. One dear friend had never seen a gun, much less held or fired one. However, being strong of will, heart and curiosity, she took the plunge. Our first range outing was more like an NFL Combine drill. With each shot fired from nearby lanes, she flinched. By “flinched” I mean both feet left the ground — you could sweep a 55-gallon drum clean under at her apex. However, she leaned into the fear and took to instruction like a “how to earn millions from the comfort of your recliner” student. Now she’s a confident gun owner and concealed carrier who takes other first-timers to the range. It’s “paying it forward” at work. That’s good for all of us.

While admittedly late, my 2020 New Year’s Resolution is to take more first-timers to the range. Care to join me in the endeavor?

Industry friend and treasured buddy Tisma Juett carried the torch for the NSSF’s First Shots program for years,
exposing thousands of first timers to the shooting sports. One of my favorite parts of SHOT Show is catching up
with friends, even if it requires the occasional selfie!

The View From SHOT Show 2020

Persecuted feet, a depleted supply of Advil and a profound sense of gratitude for the industry in which I work signal this: SHOT Show 2020 is a wrap. While finding gear like red dot sights that use computerized imagery to auto-zero themselves — and wondering if it will require daily reboots — brings back “kid in a candy store” emotions, the real value from the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade show is the direct insight into the state of the firearms world. This year, the prevailing winds of attendee sentiment carried a refreshing scent — optimism. I don’t mean the fear-based sales projections driven by firearms owners’ “stocking up” before some gun or gizmo becomes evil and restricted, but a view of good business dead ahead fueled by product enthusiasm and new customers entering the market. That’s good news for all of us.

An initiative from the National Shooting Sports Foundation intends to amplify the wave of new shooter participation and combat the daily negativity we all see on the nightly news. The Gun Owners Care campaign aims to help educate the non-shooting population with what we already know: Gun owners are the folks you want to befriend, share precious leisure time with and rely on to watch your back. We know we’ve driven gun-related accidents to the lowest level in recorded history, conserved wildlife, and made communities safer, but much of the soundbite media consuming public doesn’t. How about helping the NSSF get the word out? Find out more at gunownerscare.org

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner May/June 2020 Issue Now!