I had just said my goodbyes to a buncha shooters in the parking lot of a local range and was walkin’ away when two things struck me: First, about half of that particular crowd had never owned a firearm before 9-11. Second, I really like these people, and I think they’re about the best thing that’s happened to shooting sports in my lifetime. They’re pipefitters and paramedics, insurance agents and insulation installers, from 20-something dot-com dudes to a greatgrandmother who runs a quilting supply shop.

You can’t really call ’em a “generation of shooters” — more like a surge, or a wave — their common denominator being that they were jump-started by a singular incident.

The events of 9-11 seem to have been their collective wake-up call. From a newfound global awareness, they took a long — in some cases first — look at the security of their own persons, families, and homes, and decided they ought to take some responsibility for it.

They bought home-defense guns. They got some training. They discovered that odd addiction we share to the smell of burnt gunpowder and the thump of recoil. Many of them found, for the first time in their lives, something they could not only do well, but get measurably better at every month. Some discovered comradery, and that led to competition — and even more new friends. They bought more and different guns. Others discovered that hunting is an ancient and honorable sport, anonymous bronze figure in old-fashioned Colonial clothes, but a fellow citizen — an armed, resolute American. Those of us who grew up armed and steeped in appreciation for all 10 Amendments to the Bill of Rights should never overlook the contribution these folks are making to the preservation of our freedoms.

Sniffin’ The Coffee

The best part is, they overcame the pressures of a society demonizing guns and distancing itself from self-defense. They rejected the false, brittle, “sophisticated wisdom” urging them to “leave protection to the authorities,” telling them that it is reasonable to prepare for the possibility of fire, flood or earthquake, but never for predators,and that to do so meant they were paranoid and somehow sick or just silly.

While those Americans have smelled the coffee, others have not, and I’m concerned about a much younger generation coming up. They are the product of modern education’s notion that children’s egos are so fragile they have to be protected from any kind of criticism or hurt and their self-esteem needs constant inflation.

Did you know that nationwide, teachers are being urged not to use red pens to mark school papers? “Bloody red corrections” on tests and reports are described as “stressful, demeaning — even frightening for a young person.” Purple is widely used now, with lavender highly recommended because “it is a calming color.”

Competitive games of all kinds are under attack, with most “contact” games like dodgeball already prohibited. The fear is not so much of hurt bodies as it is of hurt feelings. In a letter to parents, the principal of one elementary school in Santa Monica declared even playing “tag” would no longer be allowed during recess. “In this game,” she said, “here is a ‘victim’ or ‘It’, which creates a self esteem issue.” Personally, I think any kid who doesn’t learn to deal with being “It” in grade school is going to be “It” somewhere less forgiving and tolerant.

Silky Scarves & Self-Esteem

The National PTA wants to do away with “the fiercely competitive game of tug-of-war.” I thought it was about learning to pull together, not apart. “Physical education professionals” have decreed kids should “only compete with themselves,” listing “juggling, unicycling, pogo-sticking, and learning to manipulate wheelchairs with ease” as recommended “sports.”

Even more bizarre, a “respected authority” who served on a former president’s national Council on Physical Fitness and Sports thinks juggling with tennis balls leads to “frustration and anxiety” because they are — get this — “uncooperative.” He recommends juggling with silk scarves. “Scarves,” he says, “are soft, non-threatening, and float down slowly.”

Can you just see a novice shooter kickin’ up dust all over the hillside and occasionally blemishing a target — one without 10-rings, numerical values, or other self-esteem threatening adornment — and a kindly Rangemaster taking him aside, treatin’ him to a peachy-mango drinkie, and encouraging him to “celebrate his dispersity”?

Nope. I think our kids can deal with dodgeball — and handle being “It.”


Source: GUNS Magazine