Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Let's treat shooters like smokers!

Help design a new program to introduce people to shooting, that emphasizes safety and fun at the same time.

An editorial in the Bangor Daily News proclaims: "If we changed the smoking culture, we can change the gun culture." It then outlines a plan for shaming and blaming that is supposed to discredit the "gun culture," that mostly imaginary bogeyman of the leftist anti-gunners.

Of course the smears against smokers, smoking and smoke are out of all proportion to the real dangers, viewed statistically, but that has not stopped the cultural busybodies; such people never let truth get in the way of their cause du jour. The above article follows that pattern, with several distortions or flat out lies about shooting, shooters, shooting industries and the dangers of guns. The article makes one or two good points as well, but the lying is the predominant aspect. I do not say that only because I disagree with the thrust of the article; there are matters here of substantive misrepresentation, which look to be cribbed uncritically from pro gun control web propaganda. The canard that if you have a gun it is more likely to hurt you than someone who deserves shooting is one such uncritical repetition.

The right response to such twaddle is to fight a culture war of our own, one crafted to show more people what we already know: Guns are cool, they are safe if appropriate precautions are followed unfailingly, shooting sports are great fun and having a gun can protect your life and maybe someday preserve the freedom of your country from busybodies foreign or domestic.

H/t to Massad Ayoob's blog for this crazy old picture.
This is NOT part of the program I envision.
The best way for us to fight this culture war is to take people shooting, so that more people find out that guns are not properly the objects of fear and loathing the left makes them out to be. We win the gun debate when the discussion is about facts not fear, and a degree of familiarity with guns dispels the irrational part of the fear. That is why it is a good thing, very effective for our side, to take non-shooters shooting and show them the ropes.

Such outings must always be conducted in a safety-first way. I think the noob should know the Four Rules before touching a gun, and have it impressed upon him that these rules are necessary, much as stopping at stop signs is necessary to safe driving.

We should devise a new program under the aegis of one of the gun safety groups, a program that involves plenty of blasting away but emphasizes safe and proper gun handling and storage. We can leave the fine points of marksmanship for another time; what this intro session is about is dealing with the dangers and then moving along to the fun.

I can't think of any programs we're running right now that exactly match that. Of course, lots of people have done the same sort of thing impromptu, with a .22 and a bunch of tin cans, but I think it would be to the good if we established a curriculum and set up an ongoing, regularly scheduled dog and pony show to introduce people to gun safety and gun fun. I am sure all the instructors would buy in, for to a man (and a woman) they are committed to teaching safety and everyone likes to have fun.

How would you design a high safety factor intro to shooting that is also lots of fun? Let us know in the comment box. I'm only now starting to think this through, so kick it around with me. For starters, I'm thinking a Contender pistol in .410 would be a good weapon for the project, because it is very simple to operate, very easy to hit with, and makes enough noise to make people feel they are shooting a real gun. Targets should be reactive, for people like the instant feedback. Tethered balloons, clay pigeons suspended on strings or set up on plate racks, such things as that bear consideration. The tone of the course should be serious and fun loving by turns. Guns are safe only if you follow the rules (the serious part), and it's great to hit targets (the fun part). Okay, how would you convey that in one easy session?


  1. Actually, both the USPSA and IDPA emphasize safety before all else, and you get get more "blast away" than these. New shooters are required to attend a safety session, and every shooter is subjected to safety requirements in every stage, personally supervised by someone whose only job is to make sure they are following the safety rules.

    And no one every gets hurt. Hmmm.

    1. All that is very much to the good. What I am thinking, though, is that we need something easier and more accessible for people with little or no background with guns. Such folks have several steps to go before they understand what practical shooting is and how it differs from impractical shooting.

      Shooting well with a pistol is an accomplishment. The pistol is the hardest of all the small arms to shoot straight. Shooting it well and fast at the same time is too much to ask of a gaggle of first timers.

      So while USPSA, IDPA and that other bunch you didn't mention are great, and we can learn a lot from them that will be very useful in setting this up, I think practical match formats are a bridge too far for complete neophytes. I might be wrong, but I think the need here is for something easier and more ego-reinforcing. But I'm still kicking this around. Maybe the intro course should be geared to giving them the knowledge they will need to later on compete in practical shooting? Anyhow, good input, thank you.