On the Eve of National Shooting Sports Month
An August of Opportunities
Here we are on the eve of National Shooting Sports Month. A time of year where we are able to turn the spotlight onto some of America's truly longest existing pastimes. Now hear me clearly here, I am by no means a historian or professional shooting sports athlete, but I am someone who finds necessity in being well informed about the world around me. Shooting Sports are a pastime for some, and truly a way of life for others. The major unifying point I am seeking to make in this short writing is that any hobby, pastime, athletic event, or complex activity will take root in someone much quicker when there is an advocate for that event and that advocate can become a coach or encouragement giver.
This month we are encouraged to turn our attention to shooting sports. I know for myself, as tough as I may think I am, that I was quite out of my element the first time I was asked to go shooting with someone. I watched as one of my closest friends and his father set their .22 rifles down on the ground and opened fire on a group of helpless soda cans. I sat there with my ear protection on wondering where my place was in this activity. When I was asked to join in I revealed the truth that my experience with an actual firearm was incredibly limited; quickly my dear friend and his father insured me that was quite alright and that this was a great opportunity to get some practical knowledge. I was ushered in as guest and given a detailed overview of what laid on the ground in front of me and how to operate it safely. Maybe it was just luck, but those soda cans got a few extra holes that day.
The NSSF's +ONE movement fits in here seamlessly. I fully believe that the experience I had those many years ago is one that needs to be repeated in order to keep these beloved activities healthy. I believe that a large number of us would agree that hands on experience with someone more knowledgeable than yourself about an activity can create lasting impact. So, whether you are an experienced long range shooter or a titan of trap shooting, share what you know. Anything new can be intimidating, especially when people are saying so many negative things about it. The best way to overcome those negative ideas are to be honest about why you love what you do and the lessons you have learned through it. We cannot expect every person we meet will become a fan of shooting sports, but we can hope to have open and respectful dialogue if we commit to the same.
So, who is your +ONE? This month is a great time to get out there and share a bit of your knowledge. Share some interesting facts like those found in Shooting Sports USA. For example the linked article points out that when trap shooting began in 1825 Annie Oakley hit 4,772 out of 5,000 glass balls (pre clay pigeon). Or perhaps direct your non-shooting sports friends to the official Olympic Games website for a little look into the place that shooting sports holds at that grand event. I know we can argue a lot about the place of firearms in our world today, but maybe this month can be a time to slow down the fighting and instead show others why these events and the culture it creates is good. We will all always enjoy different things, and that is alright. We have an opportunity to do some good and show that being different is alright; maybe even more than just in regard to shooting sports