JOIN THE MOVEMENT: THE NSSF +ONE CAMPAIGN
As firearms enthusiasts, hunters, and recreational shooters, how do we do our part to advance the positive, educational, and informative conversations happening around the country about firearms?
Have you ever asked yourself that question?
If you’re like me, the regular time you spend shooting your firearm is often your “me time”. I love to have my wife join me on the range or in the woods when our schedules permit, and she loves shooting and hunting too. But far more often I am squeezing in a range trip on the way home from work or even over a lunch break if I’m lucky. It’s a chance for me to unwind and do something I enjoy. The same goes with hunting season. I love to include my wife and family, but time alone in the woods or on the range is like therapy.
Recently I had the opportunity to take a friend, his fiancé, and her family to the shooting range. This trip was out of the ordinary in my experience because my friend actually approached me to inquire about a trip to the range. No one in his bride-to-be’s family had ever so much as held a firearm. He knew I would be excited and more than willing to introduce his future in-laws to shooting.
But this doesn’t happen often. Any other time I’ve ever taken someone to the range for the first time, I was the initiator of the conversation. Even people who have some interest in shooting – or are at least neutral to the idea of learning how to use a firearm – often don’t actively seek out people who can teach them how. I know I didn’t when I first became interested in shooting sports. I didn’t grow up shooting the way many American gun owners did, so I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could, build a rifle, join a local shooting club, and learn the hands-on way. That’s always been my default setting – to do it myself. I think a lot of us who love firearms can relate.
If I hadn’t taken that first step on my own, I would never have discovered that I also love shooting pistols and shotguns, and a huge variety of other shooting sports beyond just target shooting at the range.
Over 30 million Americans participated in some form of shooting sports activity in 2017, and many of us consider it a passion. So why don’t we share it more? Many of us raise our kids with shooting sports, and that’s wonderful, but what about beyond that? The Outdoor Foundation reported in 2017 that the number of new Americans participating in outdoor recreational activities — things like hunting, shooting, fishing and hiking – is only narrowly outpacing the number of individuals who stop going outdoors for these types of activities every year, and it’s trending downward. Put simply: we aren’t creating a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts that will be larger than the last. If we want to continue to see growth in shooting sports, gun ownership, and participation in these outdoor recreation activities, it’s going to take some proactivity on the part of people like us who make these things a significant part of our daily lives.
That’s why, throughout 2019, the National Shooting Sports Foundation is seeking to start a movement. It’s called the +ONE Campaign, and you can learn more about it on the NSSF’s website. The idea is simply to share our passion and introduce new shooters to the safe use of firearms as often as possible when we do things like go to the range or head out to the deer blind. In fact, if even one out of every three people who actively participate in shooting sports were to take even one new shooter to the range or out hunting in 2019, we’d begin the new decade with 10 Million more Americans who know how to use a firearm safely and who may even participate in shooting sports themselves in the future. That’s a huge number.
Believe me, I understand that for many of us this can be well outside our comfort zone. As I stated before, range time for me is often sacred. Living in Houston, Texas, I don’t get out to shoot nearly as often as I’d like to. So, when I do, I usually have a very specific purpose for my time there. I can be a little selfish about it, if I am being honest. Maybe you can relate to that. But that is why I am challenging myself this year and I extend that challenge to you as well. Whether it’s a family member, a co-worker, someone from the PTO, or just a neighbor across the street, the odds are enormously favorable that we all know someone who’d be excited to join us on the range or in the woods.
To people like us, heading out to the range is just a normal thing we do. It’s as much a part of our lives as taking the kids to soccer practice. But, to someone who’s never been a gun owner, the thought of setting foot on a gun range can be very intimidating – especially if they’ve got to do it alone. How much more of an enjoyable and positive first experience with a firearm would I have had if a friend who’d been shooting for years had offered to take me out to the range? And my experience wasn’t even remotely negative! It just took a lot of work on my end to prepare, learn, and feel comfortable with my firearm before taking the trip to the shooting club. Being the catalyst for someone who wouldn’t otherwise do all that extra work can make the difference between someone who’s neutral about firearms and someone who’s a gun owner, enthusiast, and even an advocate themselves.
Shouldn’t that be a priority? Imagine how the national conversation around firearms might change if more people had even one positive experience shooting, rather than no experience at all. That is the tricky part, however… ensuring that the experience is a positive one. There are a few basic things to be mindful of when bringing a brand-new shooter to the range for the first time. The NSSF does a great job providing resources on how to make someone’s first time shooting something they’ll want to do again and again, but we’ll summarize it here for you:
Number one is possibly the largest hurdle… The Ask. Asking someone to join you on the range starts with a conversation. And any good conversation involves a lot of listening. Chances are if you feel comfortable enough to ask someone to come shooting with you, they already know you well enough to know you’re a firearms enthusiast. That’s a good starting point. “Have you ever been to a shooting range?” or “Do you think you’d ever be interested in learning how to shoot?” are about as complicated of a pitch as it needs to be. Once the question’s out there, listen to their thoughts and gauge their interest. It won’t be hard to tell if they’re excited about the idea or not. And if they aren’t… don’t push the issue. If they change their mind down the road, you’ll be the person they come to. That’s a win.
If they agree to join you for a day on the range, the next tip to make it a great experience is to shift your mindset a little bit. This range session is going to be a little different from your normal outing. You’re going to have to put your teaching hat on, and for some of us that is more of a challenge than it is for others. If you happen to frequent a range that always has several Range Safety Officers on duty, ask one of them to help if you aren’t comfortable teaching a new shooter yourself. I can almost guarantee they’ll be more than happy to offer their expertise. If you’re up to the task on your own, just remember a few simple things. First and foremost, bring a copy of the Ten Rules of Firearm Safety and review them before you ever even open the gun case. Heck, maybe even before you ever leave the house. Nothing is more important than safety. Next, realize it’s okay to spend a lot of your time dry firing if need be. Or even just getting familiar with holding a firearm and learning how it operates. Leave the ammo box unopened for a while and leave your empty chamber flag inserted. That way the new shooter can get comfortable holding a firearm for the first time and everyone can easily see it’s unloaded while they learn the basics of safe firearms handling. It’ll help to take some of the pressure off. Above all, be patient. Handling a firearm — even an unloaded one — can set a new shooters nerves on edge. Keep the lines of communication open and help them to be as safe and as comfortable as possible. They may be eager for live fire, but don’t skip out on the simple stuff. There’s no rush to start putting rounds downrange, it’ll still be an awesome experience after you’ve covered the basics.
Even for someone like me who very much likes the alone time on the range, I find that I get an immense amount of enjoyment out of introducing a new shooter to firearms and how to safely enjoy the gun range. When that first shot breaks, and the smile spreads across their face, it’s a wonderful feeling. Sure, I may not get to shoot as many rounds when I am prioritizing teaching another person. But I can attest to how breaking down the fundamentals of shooting technique for a beginner has helped me re-focus on the basics, retrain my brain to be intentional with every shot, and have an even more productive day on the range than other times when I’m alone.
So take the challenge this year. Make it a point to join me, millions of other shooters around the country, and the NSSF’s +ONE Movement. Introduce a new shooter to the passion and life-long enjoyment that can be found in shooting sports. Do your part in advancing the positive, educational, and informative conversation our nation needs to be having about firearms and shooting sports. The next generation of recreational shooters, firearms owners, and enthusiasts may not depend on it now, but some day it might. We may not know when that future does depend on us until it’s too late. The more we can do now to get others involved, the better.
To learn more about the +ONE movement, visit their website. Get everything you need to spend a day on the range with a new shooter today at PrimaryArms.com. And as always, if you ever have any questions or concerns about any firearms, parts, or accessories, give us a call at 713-344-9600 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our knowledgeable and attentive staff of customer service representatives and product specialists is standing by to help. Be safe, have fun, and join the movement.