Humans are social creatures, and having friends is part of that social reality. When it comes to important decisions, we often turn to our friends for their input, especially if we are likeminded and hold similar beliefs. Topics like firearm ownership and education, personal defense and family security, as well as maintaining human rights—like the right to defend oneself from danger or criminals—are all topics regularly discussed. Here are a few simple things you can do to help your friends who are navigating the world of firearm ownership.
Keeping up with the Joneses
While I don’t advocate comparing yourself to your neighbor and desiring their flashy possessions, I do advocate that your friends and family be as well-protected as your own.
- Talk to your friends and family about preferences in firearms. It’s OK to tell your friends or family that they might enjoy a semi-automatic over a revolver, and take them to the range to prove it. Maybe even take them to a match so they can see the practicality of a handgun that uses a magazine. IDPA or USPSA would be a great, local-level competition to take someone to and help them put their skills and gear to the test.
- Talk to the moms in your circle about your new gun safe or other measures you take to educate your children about gun safety.
- Talk to friends and family about the sales you find on firearms or ammunition—or other preparedness gear.
- Coordinate educational opportunities with your friends! Hunter’s Safety is a certification every adult and youth need to hunt (unless participating in mentored hunts in some states). Take friends and have fun learning together.
Throwing Down the Gauntlet
Most adults have that one friend they can joke with, maybe even throw the gauntlet on a challenge, and really embrace a friendly contest. Shooting sports, and even just a quick visit to the range, can be that opportunity to best your friend at a challenge.
- Invite friends and family to a plinking party. Set up specific targets and challenges and take friendly bets on who will win—a competition for who picks up the brass, or maybe who gets to keep it for reloading. But shooting paper targets for score, knocking down soda cans, ringing steel, and just pushing each other to be more accurate or use the firearm accurately while being timed—all are good ideas. All of these are great ways to practice and work on the fundamentals of marksmanship and safe firearm handling skills, all while engaging in the give-and-take of social interaction with those who matter to us.
- Take your friend or family member to their first real shooting match. Start with something low-pressure, like a falling steel or Steel Challenge match. Invite them to a local PRS or precision rifle shooting match and test your long-range skills. A league or club night, an event for specific groups can be a great way to get started with pistol shooting (think ladies’ night or couples retreat), or even an intro to competition class would all be ways to take people you socialize with to the range.
- Go shoot a round of sporting clays and make your own competition. Bring the kids or other friends … make it dinner and a round of trap or skeet. The more the merrier when it comes to this low-key sort of competition.
Inform and Educate the Future
Not everyone who decides to own a firearm has friends and family that has made the same choice. Help ensure your children and the people in your social circles know the truth about firearm ownership and how enjoyable it can be to learn to use another tool. And while working with these tools, talk about the fact that they are not just for personal-protection or hunting.
Talk about history, and that firearms are also for ensuring our country and every citizen is so well-armed, trained, and educated that they would never for a second give pause to ideas that protecting oneself and one’s family is anything but normal, grounded and logical.
Talk about the fact that Americans with their firearms make up a group larger than any standing army in the world—that's formidable, and comforting. In a day and age where we hear our nation’s military readiness called into question or see criminals roaming the country committing crimes while people in government vow to disband law enforcement—owning a gun, knowing how it works and how to use it, and making sure our friends and family can do the same is one small way we each contribute to preserving this “sweet land of liberty.”
Navigating the world of firearm ownership doesn’t have to feel like a secret or something we talk about behind closed doors. It’s an American tradition to be proud of and to share with our friends and families. Being a good mentor starts with talking about the things we value and the decisions we make to keep ourselves and our families safe. I’m happy that firearms are one part of the choices I make for my own family’s safety.