If there is anything that I enjoy more than having an entire range to myself, it’s having a full firing line of good people interested in learning how to shoot.
We had the latter experience on Tuesday, as the NRA hosted a range session for Townhall and its various sister companies (including Bearing Arms). It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I was the first shooter through the double air-locked doors, and stalked down the line, noticing everything from the AR-15s on the left side of the range to the pistols through the middle and then the AKs on the right side.
I’m not going to lie: I was in love with the pair Rifle Dynamics AKs on the right side of the line (one in 7.62×39, the other in 5.45×39), but I also really enjoyed the suppressed Ruger 10/22 and Glock .22LR (a 9mm Glock 19 with a .22 conversion kit) in the middle of the line as well.
Much of the time, however, I alternated my time between loading magazines for the new shooters who didn’t necessarily know how, instructing them on how to use or hold a given firearm, or asking people which firearms they enjoyed shooting the most.
Quite to my amusement, the complete “noobs” and many of the seasoned shooters seemed to gravitate towards the same guns, which were the suppressed .22LRs and the Rifle Dynamics AKs, through the AR-15s on the left side the line stayed busy the entire time as well. While there were some people in our 20 person group that had quite a bit of range time under our belts, the majority were new shooters with very limited range time.
There was a little nervousness for many at first as they adjusted to the concussive blast and noise that is normal on an indoor range with a full firing line, but they quickly seemed to get past it.
One of our Townhall staffers wrote up the experience with a photo-heavy-post that does a great job of capturing the experience, but I thought that one of the most interesting comments about the experience was from someone who wasn’t even there.
Sebastian at gun-rights blog Shall Not Be Questioned noted:
A few weeks ago, when Bloomberg announced his effort to “educate” journalists, I mentioned “NRA has never done anything like this, as far as I know.” Well, I will have to stand corrected. I get its Townhall.com, which owns Bearingarms.com, both of which are assets of Salem Communications. (i.e. in the category of, you would think, preaching to the choir), but there are clearly folks pictured there who are newbs. Sure, I’d rather see the editorial staff of the Washington Post or New York Times here, but there is still value in hosting perceived allies.
Years ago, when I had more time and money to spend a lot of time in DC, I was involved in a range day at Quantico Shooting Club for a major “conservative” (i.e. really libertarian) charitable foundation, and all but a few who attended were completely new to firearms. There were a lot of smiling faces by the end of the day. I am convinced of the value of this kind of thing, even when we would ordinarily think we’re preaching to the choir.
I think Sebastian makes an excellent point.
While it is wonderful that there are so many people in the media that are Second Amendment supporters because they know intellectually that it is the right thing to do, knowing something intellectually and having the hands-on interaction are two completely different things. As a result of the afternoon we spend at the range, this group of journalists is now better equipped to write about firearms and Second Amendment issues.
I would also like to see reporters from the old media come down for the same experience… but I have doubts on how easy it would be to get them through the door to the range to even have that experience.
Many people who are locked in to an ideological position simply don’t want to challenge their rigidly-held beliefs. I’d love to have the most rabid gun haters in the mainstream media at the range for half a day, shooting suppressed .22LRs, 9mm pistols, and AR and AK rifles.
I strongly suspect that once they got over their irrational preconceptions, that there would be some nervous smiles and surprised enjoyment as they discovered that while firearms are to always be respected, they don’t always have to be feared.
I strongly suspect that if the Post and the Times and CNN and ABC, etc asked to send reporters to the NRA range for gun safety classes and range time, that the NRA would be gracious hosts to them, and that the reporters would learn a lot.
The problem is that I doubt many in the mainstream media have any interest in learning, and that, in and of itself, is a tragedy.