There’s a world of difference between a gun owner and a gunman or woman. (I use the term gunman as you would human.). Yes, all gunmen are “owners,” but not all owners are “gunmen.” The difference is a degree of maturity. Anyone earnestly involved in shooting sports, or preparing for the possibility of using their weapon to defend against an attack is going to understand the seriousness of these subjects. It takes dedication, training and practice and a mature attitude.
There are some people who just buy firearms to have them, with no real intention of ever using them. When asked why they made a certain purchase they’ll reply, “I liked the way it looks,” or, “Special Team Z” uses this pistol. For a lot of owners that may be enough; it’s just something else they wanted to have. Like a kid with a new toy, once the wrapper’s off and it’s been “experienced” it’s on to the next new thing. Acquisitions are made in a haphazard manner.
A gunman carefully examines what he or she needs for their specific application. They research to discover what particular firearm fits that need, and understand the buying of that pistol, rifle or shotgun is just the beginning. Next comes additional equipment such as holster, slings and optics and the right kind of ammo. A big difference between a gun owner and a gunman is gunmen have holsters, slings and optics for every firearm they own.
When gunowners go shooting they usually have several different firearms, but no two alike. They’ll shoot one gun a little – with no specific goals or purpose – then switch from one to another, working through the whole batch. A gunman may not have a wide variety of platforms, but inventory will normally be deep. You’ll see two, three or more of basically the same firearm. There will be minute differences between each firearm, but you’d have to be a gunman to identify and understand these small but critical variations. When a gunman heads to the range it’s with a specific purpose. Maybe it’s to check out new ammo, zero a scope or practice defensive drills, and there’s very little ammo wasted.
A true shooter usually concentrates on one type firearm. Once they get that squared away, they have skills that apply and transfer to other firearms. A gunman can pick up almost any firearm and operate and shoot it well. And while they’ll experiment around a little, ultimately they’ll have deep convictions on what they use – they’re not caliber or platform “neutral.”
Not all of us grew up with firearms in our lives. Most every gunowner is a “newbie.” Some of these discover the joy of ownership, and dive in deeper. They read the manual that comes with their firearm. They know the details of their firearm, and can tell you a little – or more than you want to know – about “their” gun. They learn how to disassemble, clean and if necessary perform regular maintenance, replacing standardized parts such as recoil springs. They attend training, and like to practice. They are on the way to becoming gunmen.
Your assignment is assisting these new owners, helping them become a responsible, educated and mature gunmen and women. When possible start young, imprinting on them safety and how to handle firearms properly at an early age. A lot of new shooters are getting started at a later age; it’s important to help them too. Encourage all to become involved in protecting our gun rights and ensuring them for future generation. It’s not about what you do with the gun, but what the gun does to you. Becoming a gunman or woman should be a life changing event.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of The Book of Two Guns, AR-15 Skills and Drills, featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 and has regular columns in Gun Digest and American Handgunner.