Is it just me, or is it getting harder to find that perfect gift for the loved ones in our life? This is probably because anyone can go to the internet, find what they want, and have it delivered to their doorstep—often the same day. Gift cards are practical, but far from thoughtful and personalized. I can walk through my parents’ house and see so many gifts they received years ago at Christmastime, from relatives long since passed, that bring back warm memories. I hope the gifts I give to others hold this same recollection of fun times, family gatherings and traditions.
If you have someone on your gift list that is hard to buy for, why not make a new shooter out of them? We all have individuals in our lives that have never shot a firearm or those that have very limited experience in shooting. Introducing someone to shooting can have lifelong implications. I have had many individuals attend one of my NRA Basic Firearms Training courses. Students' emotions range from being very excited to be there, to others who clearly do not want to be there. Whatever their motivation for attending class, they have all left the same way: with a sense of accomplishment, security and empowerment. Those who entered the class with the most reservation tend to have departed with the most excitement. Many of the students who came into the class with the most warped opinion of firearms and the Second Amendment, mostly due to negativity and bias in the media, were, by the end of the class, looking for shooting groups and clubs to join.
When you introduce an individual to firearms, shooting and the NRA, you are doing more to protect our Second Amendment than by anything else. This year, give those on your list something that could benefit them for the rest of their lives. There are five gifts that you can give loved ones that could offer them security and empowerment. These include an NRA membership, firearms knowledge, firearms training, firearms safety equipment, and a day at the range.
An NRA Membership can be the one of the easiest and least expensive gifts that can have the most impact on protecting our Second Amendment Rights. NRA memberships range anywhere from $45 for a 1-year membership; $100 for a 3-year membership; or $1,500 for a Life membership. The NRA frequently offers specials and discounts on membership packages. You can also check with a local NRA recruiter for any discounts they have for memberships. Every membership also comes with a year’s subscription of one or more of the NRA’s Official Journals: American Hunter, American Rifleman, Shooting Illustrated,or America’s 1st Freedom.
There are also benefits and discounts available to NRA members through savings and special offers from trusted NRA partners. Members can take advantage of personal firearms insurance, life, health, accident, property, and liability insurance and travel assistance. There are also credit unions and financial advantages. Members can join a wine club, coffee club, cigar club, and search travel partners for deals such as lodging, flights and rental vehicles. There are news and entertainment benefits as well as discounts in the NRA store and offers given by partners in the outdoors, hunting, shooting, and firearms industry.
There are many ways of giving knowledge, but the best are firearms reference materials that your new shooter can read, study and have on-hand for a source of reference. Instructional videos and books on the basics of firearms are always a good choice for beginners. Most individuals looking to engage in an activity they are not familiar with usually go straight to the internet for answers.
NRAStore.com offers great reference materials. In addition to publications such as the NRA Firearms Sourcebook and The NRA 150th Anniversary book, there offer excellent reference books from NorthAmericanOutdoors.org. Here you can find titles such as A Boy’s Guide to Firearms; A Girl’s Guide to Firearms; and Introducing Your Kids to Firearms and Hunting: A Parent’s Guide. Local bookstores are also good places to find books and literature to give your new shooter.
Giving the gift of training shows that special someone in your life that you are serious about him or her learning firearms safety and proper shooting techniques. Several NRA Basic Firearms courses are geared toward new shooters. You can sign your loved one up for an NRA Basic Pistol, NRA Basic Rifle, or NRA Basic Shotgun Course. Do your homework and find an instructor that is a good match for your new shooter. The NRA is the “Gold Standard” in firearms training. I have had experienced shooters, many of whom shoot competition, attend one of the basic classes. In the end, almost every one of them approached me and told me how much they learned from the basic class, or were reminded how much they had forgotten, and felt their marksmanship skills improved by “getting back to the fundamentals and the basics!”
If you have young men and women on your gift list, consider giving them a skill and a trade! A gift that they can use to make income for the rest of their life. Consider the gift of an Apprentice or Assistant NRA Firearms Instructor. Apprentices and Assistants can help an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor teach others. A young man or women is eligible to become an Apprentice Instructor between the ages of 13-17, or an Assistant Instructor between the ages of 17-20. At the age of 21, an individual can become a “full” Instructor. No matter if the youth is an Apprentice or Assistant Instructor, as long as they keep their credentialing current, they will become a full NRA Instructor at 21 years of age. They can then teach basic firearms courses on their own and earn some extra money to help pay for college or supplement their income.
Firearm Safety Equipment
Every shooter needs safety equipment. The minimum safety equipment you need to safely shoot is eyes and ears or more precisely, eye protection and hearing protection. Both of these items can be relatively inexpensive. Eye and ear protection is a must for all shooters and most individuals prefer to have their own. This gives them a sense of ownership in the activity.
Shooting glasses with interchangeable colored lenses are always a good choice. Colored lenses allow the shooter to pick the shades that he or she can see better depending on the time of the day, whether shooting at an indoor or outdoor range, or which firearm they are shooting. For example, orange lenses work great while shooting skeet, trap, or sporting clays with a shotgun because the orange clay bird “glows” through the orange lenses! Hearing protection can be as simple as foam ear inserts, earmuffs, or electronic muffs. Cost can go up if you choose custom-fitted electronic ear protection. To keep it all together, a range bag makes a great way to wrap it!
A Day at the Range
Taking a new shooter to the range is always a big hit. You can make it special by wrapping up a box or two of ammunition and a gift card from your range of choice to cover range fees. This makes a good gift because not only does your loved one have a gift to unwrap, but you are also giving them your time to join them!
Remember to make the trip fun. Enjoy this experience through THEIR eyes! This is not the time to show off your skills and how much you know. Do not expect them to shoot as well as you. Make sure they know how to dress for the range. For example, no open-toed shoes, no low-cut shirts, and wear a ball cap to minimize contact with any spent cases and doing the “hot brass dance.” Make sure that they have their new eye and ear protection. Pick a time that is convenient for both of you, when the range is less crowded, and meets the needs of your new shooter. This is THEIR time, so do everything you can to give them the best experience with a gift they will always remember!