The shooting community is a warm and welcoming group open to those who choose to practice their Second Amendment rights and enjoy the camaraderie found at gun ranges. I spend a lot of time at the gun range, and when I am not shooting, I observe the actions of many patrons and how they interact with each other. I am a “people watcher.” In fact, everyone should be people watchers because this is essential to being aware of your surroundings and naturally increases your situational awareness. Situational awareness is something that we teach in the NRA’s Concealed Carry Workshop, Personal Protection In the Home, and Personal Protection Outside the Home.
What I almost always witness is a warm and accepting atmosphere from the shooters, spectators, and Range Safety Officers. Sometimes I see people who seem offended when someone offers help, or even tries to make small talk. I have even heard individuals complaining about other shooters approaching them and offering advice or help. There are three things that you can do to be a team player at the range:
- Be Accepting
- Be Approachable
- Be Friendly
Each person is unique and has his or her own style. In our everyday life we meet those who prefer to dress casually and others who dress more professionally. Some people like country music, some like rock-n-roll music, and others like hip-hop. We know women who refuse to leave the house without makeup, and others who rarely wear any. Shooters are no different.
If safety is not being compromised and the shooters are wearing appropriate range attire, do not be judgmental of another shooter’s style. I seldom see male shooters act differently towards each other regarding their style. It does not matter to most men if the shooter next to them is wearing tactical gear, a business suit, or a T-shirt and shorts.
On the other hand, women can be a bit more judgmental toward other women. Some women like putting on makeup, dressing in cute clothing and the latest styles, and in general, be “girlie” while engaged in any activity. I have seen female shooters dressed in tactical attire roll their eyes at these ladies and give them no credence before even meeting them. I have also talked to women who detest the thought of pink guns being marketed toward women.
Remember, shooters come in all different experiences, needs and styles. The NRA teaches that we should create a “warm and welcoming” environment for all shooters. The irony is that we are taught to train with the gun you carry in the attire you wear day to day. The “girlie” woman is actually more than likely training in her daily attire compared to the lady who trains in tactical attire.
Shooters are some of the friendliest and most approachable people I have ever met. Most people at the range welcome any help and advice that will improve their own marksmanship. I have observed men who have never met each other offer unsolicited advice to fellow shooters—and the guidance was welcomed and well-received. I have even offered my own assistance to someone who was not performing one or more of the five fundamentals of shooting correctly (aiming, breath control, hold control, trigger control, and follow through) and the shooter was very receptive. This is because we are a community and should all be working together to achieve our successes and helping each other along the way, while at the range.
Most women I meet at the range are very open and receptive to help, regardless if it is from a male or another female shooter. Unfortunately, there are women who are offended when offered help. If someone is offering you help, they are not doing so because they think “you are female and you need help.” They just might be another friendly shooter and doing what they think is a good deed, and not for any other nefarious reason. A snappy response to someone offering help is doing nothing but spreading miserable vibes to others at the range. Shooting is supposed to be fun so if you are that easily offended, maybe you should seek out a private range.
I have been an NRA Instructor and an instructor for the State of Texas for “more than a quarter-century,” as my husband likes to remind me! But if an individual wants to offer me help, I will gladly accept it. Why be offended or confrontational and potentially miss out on a friendship you could develop at the gun range? As an instructor, the “help” I get might show me what wrong techniques are being taught out there, and it may also give me other ideas on different approaches to teach properly.
Have you ever seen anyone frowning as they were walking toward the firing line, getting ready to start their shooting time? The answer is probably, No! Sometimes when I am at the range, someone tells me that they are glad to see a woman at the range alone and that we need more women at the range. I take a moment to thank this individual because HE is absolutely right! We do need more women venturing to the range on their own. This not only shows that more and more ladies who go to the range alone are confident, but it also shows the increase of acceptance. What woman does not want to feel accepted by whatever community they are involved?
Believe it or not, I have heard a few women complain that someone made this statement to them. A common argument is that the individual just wants to be left alone. I have also heard women complain that they are “training” or had a stressful day at office and “just want to shoot.” One of the rules of safe gun handling is to control your emotions. If you are in the “training” zone and cannot be out of that zone long enough to be courteous to your fellow shooters, then maybe you should consider visiting a range that offers private areas or bays. Additionally, if you are so stressed from work that friendly comments from others trigger you, maybe you should put off going to the range.
Most shooters are friendly people, and it is in their nature to make friendly small talk. I am not talking about someone being a pest, but someone just trying to be friendly. Some women believe that they are being singled out because they are female when someone is offering help. Maybe they are and maybe they are not, but as long as they are being respectful, why not be courteous back?
If the above suggestions do not conform to your style, you do not have to follow it. That is the beauty of shooting. Range time can be an individual and personal outing, or can be a social activity among family and friends. Just remember if you choose to be yourself and that means alienation of others, do not become offended if others are being their own friendly selves. Most shooters want to help each other and welcome new shooters to the range, continuing our shooting traditions and keeping the Second Amendment strong.