Jennifer asked the question, “But whether I’ve met you or not, I want to know your story. The vast majority of my readers are firearms enthusiasts of some stripe. How did that happen? How did you become gunnies?”
This is part IV, the answer I think she was really looking for. Because my childhood experiences, my time in the Marines, and the years where I had no time and no money were all prelude. Once I joined the gun club, the transformation was complete.
It wasn’t just the guns and associated stuff, although accumulating that took several years. It was more the changes in me. I took the concealed carry class, got a permit, bought an appropriate weapon, started carrying when and where the law allows. I joined the NRA. Took the Range Safety Officer class. Started volunteering at Ladies Day and Youth Day at the club.
I started reloading. Nothing fancy, it was supposed to be a way to save money on the cost of ammo, but reloading is where you really learn a lot about firearms and ammunition. I picked up a lot of history and trivia, although I know how much there is to know and how impossible it is to do more than scratch the surface.
I became more aware of the war on guns, the Brady Campaign, the Assault Weapons Ban, and what appears to be an organized movement to dismantle the Bill of Rights. My politics had taken a big jump on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Understanding more of the role of the Bill of Rights in the history of America brought more changes.
The pleasure of this hobby, the people I have met and become friends with, the challenges it continues to present every time I look down the sights, and the opportunity to teach and share these skills with new shooters are all part of who I am.
If you think America is moribund and there is no hope, find an active gun club. Go to a Garand Match, a 3-Gun Match, or an Appleseed shoot. Talk to the people you meet. You’re going to meet honest, friendly, patriotic Americans. We aren’t nuts of any type, gun or otherwise. We’re people with a sense of history, honor, and integrity.
The great body of our citizens shoot less as times goes on. We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving peace in the world… The first step – in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible, and to be fit for war if it should come – is to teach men to shoot!
–Theodore Roosevelt, in his last message to Congress.