There’s been a tremendous increase in gun ownership in the past few years, but that gun-buying bubble will pop unless those new gun owners find something to do with their guns other than keeping them unloaded under their beds and hoping they will keep the bad guys away.
A gun is not a magical talisman of self-protection, and unless gun owners practice using their guns on a regular basis, especially under stressful conditions, their ability to use a gun effectively just won’t be there when they need it the most. More importantly, new gun owners need to have a gun near them if (God forbid) they need it to defend a life.
Quite honestly, the firearms training community is not doing a good job at teaching people how to carry a gun. When I went through my concealed carry class many years ago, my instructor said that only one in three people in his class would carry their gun on a regular basis, and now, after learning much more about the reality of firearms ownership in the United States, I’d say my instructor was overly optimistic.
Owning a gun should not be a fad. CB radios went away because people found out that there was little to do with a CB except talk to truckers. If we want guns to be something other than tactical pet rocks, we need to introduce gun owners to activities they can do to improve their ability to use a gun under stressful conditions, without throwing them into the ring of competition right from the start with little or no training.
Enter Shoot and Scoot Range Days, put on by Step By Step Gun Training.
This event features simple, easy to follow practical shooting stages that use reactive steel targets to give instant feedback on whether you hit the target (or not) and easy-to-follow courses of fire that use shooting boxes to delineate what targets must be engaged from which positions. The round counts are low (under 25 rounds per stage) and most importantly, the focus of the Range Day isn’t on winning a match, it’s on improving your skills and getting comfortable with carrying a gun in a holster.
A typical Shoot and Scoot Range session consists of two pistol-shooting bays set up for easy-to-shoot courses of fire for people who want to work on drawing from a holster and safely moving with their gun and a bay with a more advanced course of fire that brings in the defensive use of a rifle into the mix. In addition to range officers (who get a big discount on the practice fee in return for their services) on each stage, there’s also a instructor dedicated to teaching first-time attendees how to safely draw from holster and move with their gun. The sessions are three hours long, which is enough time to run through all the courses of fire at least three times, and while timers are in use on the stages, scores are not kept, and the time is used more to gauge personal improvement than who recorded the fastest time on the stage.
Shoot and Scoot Range Days aren’t there to give people a chance to win a match, they’re to give people the experience of being at a match. Attendees get a taste of what it’s like to safely operate a firearm under a small amount of simulated stress, without the stage fright and anxiety that comes from being judged by your peers on your performance. More importantly, people at this event get a feel for what it’s like to carry a gun around on your hip for hours on end.
You would think that’s a common thing among people who have their concealed carry permits and own a defensive pistol, but you’d be wrong. At a recent industry-only event put on by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, some participants were amazed by how few people within the firearms industry itself had any experience drawing a gun from a holster and putting rounds on-target.
If this is the case inside the firearms industry, imagine what it’s like for those on the outside. If we want “Gun Culture 2.0” to truly become a culture, that means that the having a defensive firearm on you or near you needs to be as natural and as normal has having a smartphone on you or near you at all times. We wouldn’t say that someone who has their phone in their car in the garage is ready to answer a call on said phone, and we therefore shouldn’t settle for civilian concealed training that stops short of showing people how to quickly answer the call to defend a life.