As passionate as shooters can be about protecting their gun rights, it’s important not to get too caught up in Us vs. Them thinking. Plenty of folks who don’t shoot might enjoy it if their concerns or misconceptions about firearms were addressed properly. Here are a few common arguments against shooting that could, if handled diplomatically, be broken and ultimately lead to a friend joining you on the shooting range for the first time.
I'm Afraid of the Recoil
Wouldn't it be fun to get Grandma out to the range for an afternoon? But with her age, her size and that bit of arthritis in her hands, chances are she won’t have much fun running her grandson's 12-gauge. If you have a friend or family member who is sensitive to felt recoil for one reason or another, then it's time to crack out the .22s. Just about anyone can enjoy running .22 handguns or rifles with low levels of felt recoil. They can practice all they want because the ammunition is affordable. If they are sensitive to noise, then try ammunition like the CCI Quiet. This low-velocity cartridge offers a 75-percent reduction in noise compared to other .22 rounds, and is accurate to boot.
I've Never Been Shooting Before
In other words, "I don't want to look stupid." For those of us who grew up shooting, it's easy to forget that we were once lousy shots ourselves. Luckily, we had someone patiently walk us through the process and provide encouragement and opportunities to improve. It’s not easy to learn a new life skill as an adult, especially if you think your buddies are going to laugh at you. Talk to your friend about what kind of shooting they would like to try if they had a chance to go. If they have no particular preferences for handguns or long guns, then set them up with a chance to try some of each in an environment where they can have a successful and positive experience. There's nothing like seeing the smile on someone’s face when they hit the bullseye for the first time.
Guns Are Just for Killing
This can be one of the toughest arguments to take on. It should be handled with care since your acquaintance’s opinion may be based on a negative personal experience. If that is the case, then perhaps you should invite them to go bowling instead. However, several of the people I have talked to over the years who’ve held this view of shooting have locked on to violent, media-driven stereotypes and allowed this narrow set of information to shape their beliefs. The best conversations I've had have come from sharing positive personal experiences with shooting: the time spent with my family, the sense of accomplishment and all of the fun that shooting has to offer.
Gun People Are Weird
Luckily, this shooting stereotype, which was never valid, is rapidly losing steam. Record levels of gun sales over the last few years show that more people are shooting than ever before. While it is difficult to generate exact statistics of gun ownership, some indicators are available. When asked by Gallup Polls in 2010 if a gun was present in the home, 39 percent of respondents answered "yes." This figure has fluctuated from 38 percent to 42 percent in polls since 2000, and has ranged between 36 percent and 51 percent since Gallup started asking the question in 1959. The NRA states almost half of U.S. households have at least one firearm. It's hard to claim that having guns and going shooting is some sort of fringe activity when so many people choose to own them.
Shooting is a Guy Thing
The estimated 15 to 20 million women in the U.S. who own guns and participate in shooting sports would disagree. Shooting is a sport that anyone can participate in. Many shooting ranges provide ladies’ day events and classes geared towards women. Another way to make a trip to the range more comfortable for a new female shooter is to invite other women who are experienced with firearms to join you. This can be a big help in breaking the ice, and it's a great opportunity to make new friends.
But I Don't Want to Kill Cute Animals!
Some non-shooters may have the misconception that shooting is the same thing as hunting. Since they find the idea of hunting repugnant, guns are repulsive too. The common mistake in this situation is to try to change the individual's mind about hunting. This can touch off a heated debate that is unlikely to lead to good feelings on either side. Instead, this would be the right time to point out all of the exciting shooting activities that are sports in and of themselves. Stationary paper pistol targets, long range rifle work using steel plates, and sporting clays are just a few of the activities that can be enjoyed on the range without harming any cute little critters.
Guns Are Dangerous
A more accurate statement is that firearms are potentially dangerous. It's true that when misused or improperly handled, guns can cause serious bodily injury or death. But when you think about it, how many objects, devices and substances do we use on a daily basis that have the potential to harm us? Prescription drugs, butane lighters, electrical appliances, cleaning chemicals and automobiles are just a few of the items we must handle with care. If someone is concerned about being safe around guns, take some time to share with them the safety rules and procedures shooters use to avoid accidents or injury while transporting, handling, and shooting firearms.
I Hate the Outdoors
Not everyone is in love with the great outdoors. This may be especially true for individuals who live and work in metropolitan areas. The idea of slogging across muddy fields and sweating under the summer sun just to shoot a gun may be enough of a turn-off to keep this potential shooter at home (or at Starbucks). If your acquaintance doesn’t want their SUV to get all dusty, then find an indoor facility or a quality gun club to go to. This need for squeaky clean shooting may not be important to you, but it may tip the scales enough for your friend to give shooting a try.