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Why shooting

On a blog I read from time to time (hat tip to Castle Argghhh), there was an honest question posed: (paraphrasing) ‘Why shooting? Guns were invented as lethal weapons, there is no other reason to learn to shoot other than as a method of killing, people or animals… even in self defense’. It’s a good question, and one that deserves a reasonable answer.

Shooting is a fun and useful skill, even if you are not interested in hunting. Guns have been around for a good long time now, and there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. Nations that have banned firearms still have criminals who use guns, only they have no way to retaliate! If a small island nation such as Great Brittan can’t prevent criminals from getting their hands on firearms, do you think this huge country, with its insecure borders, are ever going to be able to do so? Do you think we can be as successful at eliminating firearms as we have been with eliminating illegal drug use? Even if we could wave a magic want and destroy all guns and the knowledge of how to make them… would we really want to do so? The strong preyed on the weak long before guns were available. Riding our world of guns would not eliminate violence, but simply return it to the state it was in prior to their invention! I’d hardly call world history prior to the 1800’s an ideal example of peaceful coexistence! Guns are here to stay, it’s only logical to learn how to handle them in a safe manner.

Unlike many shooters I know, I didn’t really grow up around guns. My father had a .38 snubby for home defense, and my step father has a 12g for the same reason. My extended family includes a good number of hunters, but live at a distance, so shooting and hunting with uncles and cousins was a rare occurrence. Safety was drilled into my head from a young age by my uncles during these rare trips to the range. Until I was in my late teens, shooting was a once a year thing, at best. I had a good friend in high school whose grandparents had some land. Hunting and plinking around their property when I was 16 or so was about the first access I had to firearms on a regular basis. I bought an inexpensive used rifle, and used it for everything from target shooting to varmint control. I always enjoyed shooting, and I always sort of accepted guns as part of the landscape, so to speak. I was blissfully unaware that our right to own and shoot guns was under attack until much later in life.

Shooting is just plain fun! If you’ve never tried it, do so. Heck, if you live in my area, drop me a note, and I’ll provide the guns, ammo, safety equipment and instructions, targets, and drive the range! There’s a real sense of accomplishment that comes with the ‘Ping’ of lead smacking steel, or watching the center get knocked out of a target, or watching a clay pigeon turn to dust. I’ve watched child and adult alike grin from ear to ear when they start putting lead on target. There’s simply something about shooting that makes it an enjoyable experience.

In addition to being fun, it’s a very useful skill. Even if you never intend to hunt, having a basic familiarity with firearms is a life skill that shouldn’t be neglected. I firmly believe that every citizen should know how to safely handle a firearm, no matter if they ever intend on owning one or not. Who knows when you might walk into a public restroom stall to find a handgun sitting on the back of the toilet? It happens… it shouldn’t, but it does. Panic isn’t the answer, neither is ignoring it and leaving it for the next guy to deal with.

As much as some people might wish to deny it, the defensive use of firearms can’t be dismissed. There is no other tool available with which a smaller, weaker person can defend themselves, on equal terms, against a larger, stronger, or more numerous attackers. Women especially need to at least consider the unthinkable, and determine how you would respond if attacked (please refer to Kathy Jackson’s excellent site for women, at The Cornered Cat). According to some, giving your attacker whatever they want is the right response. In my opinion, this is a very bad answer to a deadly serious question. Cooperating with a criminal only encourages the attacker to continue preying on innocent people. Even if you survive the encounter, who’s to say the next victim will? I have four beautiful daughters, and I encourage each and every one of them to meet an attack with as much force as they can muster, and I’m teaching them the skills to ensure they can win that encounter. My oldest, at the age of 20, still has four years before our state will trust her with a concealed carry license, and I worry about her every day. It’s a rough world out there folks, and sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to make things any better.

I bought my first handgun when I was 22, a used Makarov. Figured it would allow me to practice my shooting skills, and use as a defensive weapon at home if the need ever arose. Since I was living in the city, I had to go to an indoor range to shoot. Talking to other shooters taught me just how serious the threats to our rights to own firearms were… this was during Clinton’s first term. With the passage of the ‘evil looking gun ban’, I started seriously involving myself with 2nd amendment issues. I joined the NRA, and started paying attention to local politics. At this point, I am an active member of several local and national 2nd amendment groups. I’m involved in several types of organized shooting, and try to get to the range at least every other week.

I find that I enjoy shooting large caliber revolvers, small caliber target rifles, and modern military style guns. I’ll shoot just about anything that goes bang (or boom, even!), but my favorite guns are my Smith model 29-2 .44 magnum, a scoped, bolt action Savage in .17hmr, and my H&K 91 in .308 (actually, it’s a JLD clone). I also find that I much prefer ‘reactive’ targets to paper punching. There’s very few ways I’d rather spend a sunny afternoon than bouncing empty shotgun hulls around the pistol range, or turning necco wafers into a puff of smoke from a hundred yards out. Give it a try sometime!