Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rookie Evolution & the Buddy System

I don't really have mastery of the gun hobbyist vocabulary yet so I listen more than I talk.

I walked into the local Cabela's a few months back and stood near the gun counter for a while watching and listening. I soaked up a full load of new info and decided I'd take a break to mull over some concepts and ideas, so I strolled up to the deli for a snack. A while later I had all my questions lined up and went back to the gun counter to select a victim. After about 4 questions he got tired of me and passed me off to a coworker with a higher level of newbie skills.

All in all not a bad day. I got 2 cards and some contact info for basic handgun classes, concealed carry instructors & local ranges; some good poop on eye/ear safety (you may shoot different stuff over time, but you'll always need eye and ear protection, so quality gear is a good investment); and the standard allotment of personal preference advice about caliber and ammo.

Being new to the shooter scene is a lot like being in a foreign country. It's hard to put your questions into a form people can understand when you don't have a good working vocabulary of the local lingo. It slows my learning curve that I'm not good with nomenclature; if someone says "I just bought a glock 29", I hear "I just bought a handgun". So a good bit of the info shooters send my way goes right over my head. But I'm learning. Having lotsa free time to do research helps.

Now several months later; I've been to a couple local gun shows, visited online with a couple gun-bloggers, chatted up some of the guys behind the counter at the local ranges and gun shops and managed to spend some $$. But as I'm still not part of the 'in crowd' or a bona fide regular customer, I still get that 'new kid' feeling when I walk into a serious firearm environment.

During my Army years I bounced around a lot and usually there was someone assigned to meet the newbie at the airport and show him the ropes. The buddy system works; adjusting to the new place is waaaay easier with a buddy. I didn't realize how much of a difference it makes until I showed up at a new duty station and there was no assigned buddy. Lucky for me it was west Texas and the first guy I ran into was bored and a vet. Needless to say, when it was my turn to be the assigned buddy, I took the duty seriously.

In the interest of fighting firearm ignorance, and easing first timers into the environment while minimizing the social stress, I thought about the old army buddy system. Wouldn't it be easier if you had a buddy to show you the ropes; range rules, driving directions, how to avoid range rush-hour, someone to introduce you and keep you from making too many of those embarrassing rookie mistakes?

During my web-wanderings I've run across a few bloggers who have open invites for first timers to come out and shoot. Some offering to supply everything; targets, ammo, a variety of firearms, etc.

idea: lets make a list and get all the info in one place.


I started with the handful of volunteer bloggers and an outdated link list I found where someone had already started the same project. I sent out a few emails and the replies started coming back. I added a MENTOR section to my sidebar and replied with vague promises of future creativity and sophistication for the upcoming versions.

I was hoping for a dozen; so far I have more than half that and it's only been a couple weeks. If I can keep up with it we might have something. I suspect a great number of the anti-gunners are motivated by fear of the unknown. If we can educate them 1 at a time by making sure their initial experience is fun and informative and SAFE; we stand a chance.

I've seen people get turned off by bad initial experiences with dogs, motorcycles, sushi, and half a dozen other things. I hope we can make your first range visit a good one.


Brigid said...

P.S. the hair's not shorter, just some pictures it gets bunched up under the shooting shirt collar.

Thanks for the comments. . . B.

Kevin said...

You might want to try contacting the people on this list. I'm pretty sure it's still accurate.

Mulligan said...

i'm working my way through that one, so far i'm about a quarter of the way through. i get about 1 reply out of 5.