By Ralph Mroz
Photo: Paul Hyland
What kind of gun owner are you? I’ll bet, just by dint of the fact you subscribe to Handgunner, you’re — as Garrison Keillor says — “above average.” Scary thing is though, the number of gun owners who aren’t. I divide we civilian gun owners into roughly four categories.
Goobers with guns. These people, if what shows up at most ranges is any indication, might even qualify as the majority, and I’ll bet they aren’t reading this right now. You don’t need to drool tobacco juice from missing teeth to qualify here. These people often have little to no idea about safety. You’ll see guns handled with the muzzles wandering to and fro with no regard for what they cross. They will even point a gun at themselves when handling, loading, unloading and manipulating it. When they pick up a gun, the chamber and general state of the gun is never checked. “Why would I do that?”
Goobers will shoot at anything. Once I saw one pull a bowling ball from the bed of his pick up, lay it out on the range and blast away at it. These morons will even drink beer (or stronger stuff) when shooting. They have zero training, and can’t imagine why they would need any. I have no idea why there aren’t more Darwin Award winners in this crowd. And let’s not even think about the ones who don’t even go to the range.
Safe, But Unskilled
These gun owners are, thankfully, conscious of gun safety. Most intuitively (if not explicitly) understand the Safety Rules, and try their their best to do what their long-ago firearms safety instructor told them. They are conscientious with regard to safety, but have no other real gun handling skills. They can’t mount or draw a gun properly, they can’t shoot at any speed other than slow plinking, can’t reload effectively, can’t move with a gun safely and their marksmanship is, well — undeveloped. Their main virtue is they are safe, but their main fault is they don’t see the need to develop their “skills” any further.
Safe and with skills. This is the category I assume the bulk of you likely are. Reflexively safe with firearms, and with handling, marksmanship and having tactical skills ranging from rudimentary to high level. This is the population competitive shooting draws from, and where shooting schools get their students. These are the people you and I think of when we think of fellow shooters. These are the shooters who drive much of the market in firearms and gear. These people are usually quite self-aware of their skill level and are generally trying to improve it.
You will likely never have Julie Golob’s skill, but she and those like her
at the top of the field are an inspiration and represent the rest of us
well in the media. We should aspire to their level of firearms professionalism.
There are subcategories here, of course, with some at the higher end and some of them embarrassing. The mall-ninja Strange Rangers probably most acutely. But for the most part these are good people. It’s not so much gun-handling or safety separating people in these subcategories as it is their sub-interests and personality types.
The pantheon here is the home of the Julie Golobs and Max Michels of the world. These gals and guys can do things with guns which are downright against the natural order. They are hard-driven, fanatically focused, genetically gifted specimens on the far right of the talent bell curve. In five lifetimes of unlimited time and ammo, I couldn’t approach half of Mrs. G’s skill — but she and those like her are an inspiration. Also included here are the men in, and formally of, our top-tier SpecWar units — including the ones that don’t actually exist. We’re happy you’re on our side.
So, which category are you in? The thing is, except for the last one, you get to choose! Now be honest …