What’s Your Shooting Sports Story? [National Shooting Sports Month]
My story is probably a lot like yours. About two-thirds of current American gun owners grew up in a household where guns were present. My dad kept a .410 shotgun locked up in the closet. My Grandpa kept good care of his dad’s Belgian-made Browning Automatic-5. The first gun I was ever given was a single-shot Winchester .22 made in 1967. It, like the heirloom Browning, had belonged to my great-grandfather. I would bet a lot of that sounds familiar to you. Many animals have been harvested, many coke bottles have been plinked, and many clay pigeons have been shattered with “granddaddy’s gun”. It’s a common heritage many of us can take a small part in. As Americans, it is thankfully a right we enjoy, enshrined in our founding document. But even with more than a hundred-million gun owners in America today who have lived out that heritage, or something like it, many more Americans have not.
My story is also probably a lot different from yours. You see, even with that long-standing family legacy of gun ownership that I now hold so dearly, I didn’t grow up shooting guns or hunting. Not the way many of you may have…
When I was 10 years old I went to summer camp. One of the activities we enjoyed during that sun-bathed week of summer in Northern Michigan was shooting sports. We were taught Riflery and Archery, and both on the same day no less! What an awesome day at camp, right? This was my first real experience with recreational shooting, and with guns in general. We were instructed in range safety by an older gentleman who reminded me a lot of my grandpa. The rifles we shot looked a lot like that single-shot Winchester .22 I would be given some number of years later. We lined up to take our turn knocking over bowling pins and pinging small metal silhouettes of squirrels and pigeons, and I can still remember the excitement of being able to shoot a real gun instead of a plastic cap gun revolver.
After returning home and telling my family all about the fun we had, my grandpa resolved to take me out to shoot that old .22 Winchester. We shot it a few times in the weeks and months that followed that time at camp, but I was about to go back to school, and things like sports and friends started to fill up my days. When I was in my teens I had many friends who had grown up hunting Michigan whitetail deer every November since the time they were 5, if not younger. There was a part of me, though small at the time, that wished I had experienced what they had.
It wasn’t until I married my wife and joined her family of avid hunters and outdoorsmen and women that I felt a desire to buy a gun of my own. That was only six years ago. Every fall since then, when November comes around, I can be found out in the woods with my father- and brother-in-law and my Mossberg 500.
For me to really experience the fullness of what shooting sports, hunting and outdoor recreation had to offer, I had to be shown. I wasn’t averse to gun ownership – I grew up with them in the house. I had even been taught about guns and how to use them safely, both by that kindly range safety officer at camp and at hunter’s safety, and when I went along with a friend after staying the night at his house. But even with the means and the knowledge to safely enjoy recreational shooting when I was growing up, I still never did. I had to be shown. I had to be taken out into the woods that first time. I had to be invited over to shoot clays at my friend’s shooting club with him and his dad. I had to be shown what the heritage and legacy of recreational shooting and hunting looked like when it was lived out.
Now, as I think about what I have seen, learned, and experienced, I cannot imagine a future where I don’t raise my own kids from a young age to understand and appreciate safe, legal firearms ownership and the heritage that comes with growing up hunting and shooting.
That heritage and appreciation for the shooting sports is what led the National Shooting Sports Foundation to begin an initiative to make August National Shooting Sports Month. In 2017, the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a proclamation that made that initiative official and he added some personal words to illustrate his own connection to the outdoors and shooting sports:
“I grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana, where I spent my time hunting and fishing on our shared public lands. I was lucky to take my boys out on the same land that my dad and granddad took me. Today I’m focused on continuing that tradition by announcing this August, and every August under my leadership at Interior will be proclaimed National Shooting Sports Month.”
This year, Primary Arms is incredibly proud to be an official sponsor of National Shooting Sports Month
Primary Arms is partnering with the NSSF in celebration of the shooting sports, hunting and outdoor recreation. We are proud not only because of all the exceptional work the NSSF does for the firearms and shooting sports industry, but also because all of us here at PA share in the same appreciation for what the NSSF fights for, and the incredibly good work that we all take part in as shooters, hunters, and outdoorsmen and women.
The purpose of National Shooting Sports Month is to see even more people fall in love with hunting, shooting, and outdoor recreation. Not just because more people who own and use firearms for sports and recreation is good for business, far from it. The NSSF understands, as many of us who shoot and hunt also do, that some of the most important people in the nation for the conservation of our public lands and wildlife habitats are the people who safely and legally purchase firearms and ammunition.
If you’re not familiar with the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, I’d love to share a little bit of history with you. Signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 2nd, 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act laid the foundation for the preservation of America’s wild game, public lands, and wildlife habitats. It enacted an excise tax that every single firearm owner, hunter and recreational shooter pays when they legally purchase a firearm, buy ammunition, or purchase a hunting license. In 2018 alone, nearly $800 Million dollars will be allocated for use in all 50 states and 5 American territories around the world. In May of 2017, Congress passed a bill to amend the act to include provisions for funding to all 50 states explicitly for the promotion of hunting and recreational shooting, with efforts ongoing to educate more people on safe firearms use and ownership as well as the establishment of public shooting ranges.
National Shooting Sports Month is about celebrating the story we have to tell about shooting sports and the immense good that comes from living out our heritage. All across the United States for the entire month of August, the NSSF is engaging firearms manufacturers, retailers, shooting clubs, gun ranges and the individuals who take part in shooting sports to help tell the story; encouraging us all to promote the fun, safety, and lifelong enjoyment that’s found in recreational shooting to our friends, families and communities.
My story is a perfect example of why this is so vital. Not only to the growth of the shooting sports, but to the better understanding of safe and legal firearms ownership among our communities, and to the efforts of conservation across our nation. I had to be shown what it looked like – what it felt like — and there’s a better-than-good chance that you know many people who are like I was and just need to be shown first-hand what it means to take part in the value of shooting sports, hunting and outdoor recreation. As it turns out, people like you and me are in the best possible position to be ambassadors to those who just need to be shown. Because we know them, we see them every single day. And more importantly, because it’s our passion.
Here at Primary Arms, we’re excited to do our part. All throughout the month of August, you can expect Shooting Sports Month-themed sales on our website as we attempt to make it even easier on you and your budget to hit the range and bring along new and first-time shooters.
How can you do your part? That’s the best thing about National Shooting Sports Month. This event is quite literally nationwide. No matter where you live, there is an excellent chance that an official NSSM event is taking place near you. Visit www.letsgoshooting.org to browse local gun ranges and NSSF affiliates in your local community. But what if there isn’t an event or location where you live? Anyone can help further the mission of National Shooting Sports Month from anywhere in the country. Do you have a local gun range that you shoot at regularly? If they aren’t already planning an event, talk to someone about organizing one. Or visit your local gun store and see if they’d be open to joining the celebration. Resources for becoming a sponsor or official partner are available at www.shootingsportsmoth.org.
If neither of those options fit for you but you still want to help, take your family out shooting, bring a new friend or first-time shooter along, and share your range day on social media using the hashtags #shootingsportsmonth and #letsgoshooting. Share your shooting sports story with us on Instagram by tagging us in your post using @PrimaryArmsOnline. There’s no wrong way to get involved and further the mission of National Shooting Sports Month, just get out to the range and share your passion for the shooting sports with your friends, family, and community.
This is our heritage. Events like this give us the opportunity to share it with new people and ensure our ability to pass along this tradition and legacy to our children, grandchildren, and future generations to come. The work of the NSSF, the conservation efforts that every shooter, hunter, and outdoorsman take part in, and the commitment to teach our families, friends and communities what it means to safely share in the heritage of shooting sports is something deeply meaningful. Don’t let the month of August go by without setting aside time to be with the people you care about and take part in living out our passion. Safe and happy shooting, and happy National Shooting Sports Month from all of us here at Primary Arms.