My father took me shooting for the first time when I was eight years old. I learned how to safely handle a firearm and the basics of marksmanship with a bolt action .22LR rifle with open, iron sights. Shooting with my father was one of my first steps towards a more disciplined life, and I will be forever thankful to him for that.
I had the nice opportunity to take some of my friends from Ars Technica to the outdoor shooting range for a second time this week. There were a few people who had never fired a weapon before, and some who had fired long guns but never a pistol.
One of the things that I find particularly rewarding is talking to a new shooter about how firearms work, how to handle ammunition and firearms safely, and then coach them through their first trip to the range. There is something about watching someone learn and then practice what they’ve learned, and improve upon their own experience.
My favorite new shooter was detour. He had never been around a firearm before, and he dutifully sat through my usual firearm safety talk. When he had questions, he asked them — and they were all excellent. I enjoyed watching him shoot. I stood slightly behind him and to the left so that I could give him advice as he shot. It was really fun, and he did a great job.
It’s times like these that I realize how important those moments with my father were. I think I remember feeling like a “grown up” because he was passing knowledge down on me, but I didn’t realize what was really happening. He was helping me become a better person; someone who could learn and share that knowledge with other people. Becoming a better marksman, remembering my father’s voice telling me to relax and breathe — these things I passed on to my new friends.
Thanks dad, I really appreciate it.