|Recruiting new shooters and hunters need not be difficult.
We in the shooting sports industry have had the answer all along, but most of us just didn’t see it, and/or got in the way. There has been a generational disconnect. What we have to offer hasn’t changed. But the motivating factors have.
Just look at the explosion in the interest in “tactical” things. Where previous generations viewed firearms as they relate to hunting, paper and clay target shooting, it seems as though these newer generations view them more from the perspective of movies, video games, etc.
Basic motivators are more visual now. That’s why, for the teenage and young adult folks, the farthest-out, most bizarre-looking rigs trigger better responses.
There is not room here to discuss the details of this phenomenon. Suffice it to say there are shortcuts to recruiting and keeping new shooters.
Judging from what I see at public shooting ranges, the basic firearm for recruitment is the AR (modern sporting rifle). Whether it is a .22 rimfire or a 5.56mm doesn’t seem to matter. Both work equally well.
Following introduction to the AR system, it seems as though handguns come next in the progression (for a while many folks thought it started with handguns, but the addictive factor is triggered quicker via the AR).
On the handgun front, any of the “tactical” semi-autos seem to get the juices flowing faster than revolvers. Although most newbies can handle the three “tactical” pistol cartridges – 9mmP, .40 S&W and .45 ACP – it seems that the 9mmP continues to rule, at least at first for the younger folks.
Shotguns come in a distant third in the progression. For me, this was counter-intuitive at first. Both gun size and type of noise seem to be factors.
However, once introduced to shotguns, acceptance and expanded use of them seem to follow virtually automatically.
There is one other absolutely critical factor: Trigger time. New folks literally need to be taken to a range or shooting area and personally walked through the procedure by someone who knows how to shoot, etc.
Yes, there are those who are interested enough to venture into the shooting sports alone, but they are rare. There are many others out there who are prime candidates, but who will never pop a cap unless someone actually takes them out and shows them the ropes.
It seems as though shooting is instantly addictive to a huge percentage of those who try it. But there is another caveat: Make certain that they have really, really good ear protection. I have found that it is the noise made by firearms that is the most intimidating thing for many new folks.
It behooves all of us who care about the future of the shooting sports to evangelize the traditions, the ethic and the enjoyment. We need to do it responsibly and safely. I am convinced that the potential is beyond our ability to comprehend. I think the future is wide open.
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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at email@example.com.
AR RIFLES ARE THE modern entry guns for newcomers into the shooting sports. Handguns come next, and then shotguns. This AR is from Mossberg.