Sharing is Caring

IMG_2739As I read a recent thread on Sniper’s Hide, I had to take a minute to ponder my place in the shooting sports.

The original poster asked how the members feel about letting other people handle their firearms. He also threw in the “warrior” theory that no one other than a teammate should touch your weapon. I encourage you to read the original post on SH to get an idea of the full context.

I founded 8541 Tactical with a desire to share what knowledge and experience I have with others in the community. My overall goal is to help the community grow by attracting new shooters. I have found one of the most personal ways to do this is to put my rifle in a new shooters hands. Making that first shot one of the most enjoyable possible is a way to leave them wanting more.

I have been greatly blessed with the opportunity to own and handle some really cool firearms and optics. When I am at the range training or evaluating a piece of gear, it is fairly routine for someone to approach me and ask questions about the rifle, optic, etc. When possible I take the time to talk to them and offer to let them shoot it. This is not always practical, but frequently the extra couple of minutes and expended ammo doesn’t matter to me. Allowing the other shooter to experience gear that he normally won’t get to shoot is incredibly helpful for them and beneficial for the manufacturers that support our little project. This other shooter will most likely use his experience during his next buying opportunity and he will surely share his experience with his circle of friends.

Looking at the question from a professional Law Enforcement standpoint, there may be some merit in restricting who handles your working firearms. If I am on the range, I have no problem with letting another shooter handle or fire my work guns. I stand where I can observe everything they do, and I can confirm the zero before the session is done. This way I know my firearms are ready for work. If I am actually in uniform and working, then only another officer may handle my firearms. The exception to this is during public relation opportunities where we display unloaded weapons and equipment for the public. Tight control needs to be maintained to prevent damage or theft, but overall it give non-firearms people a chance to see that guns are not evil and can be handled safely.

My military experience was much the same. The bolt guns (M40A1) were only to be handled by Snipers who had earned the title. However they were often put on display at “dog and pony shows”. Occasionally during cross-training with other countries, we would let their snipers shoot our weapons when they reciprocate. Of course there was always the rare times when the Battalion Commander would show up on the range and want to shoot one of “his” rifles.

I find the idea that only a “warrior” should touch the weapon to be ridiculous. Firearms are mechanical tools. Superstition and Spells have no effect on the accuracy or function of the system. Get the tool in as many hands as possible and watch our sport grow.

I will leave you with one word of caution. When allowing new shooters to fire high-powered rifles make sure you instruct them on proper handling and recoil control. Nothing will sour a new shooter quicker than getting busted in the eye by a scope. All those videos of inexperienced shooters getting smacked, slapped, bruised and bloodied may make great viral videos, but they hurt our cause. Please don’t be “that guy” who sets someone up for a fail.

How often (if ever) do you allow other shooters to handle your firearms? What precautions do you take? Have you had a bad experience? Please let us know in the comments below!

15 thoughts on “Sharing is Caring”

  1. I always do unless they are acting like a fool and/or seem not to be able to respect my property. I was lucky enough to get the chance to shoot someone’s Barrett M95 at my range one day, and he not only continually refused to let me give him some money for his (absurdly expensive) ammo, he let me shoot over a dozen rounds! That kind of generosity helped shape my feelings on the matter, and I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed the grins of people shooting my AK for the first time. The camaraderie amongst shooters is my favorite part of the sport.

  2. The douchebag who thinks its funny when his girlfriend gets smacked in the face with a 50AE is basically the last thing our sport needs.

  3. Great post and I whole-heartedly agree. Lots of instruction and encouragement to make that particular person as comfortable as possible. I stick to a certain habbit when introducing someone to a new semi-auto: For the first 5 – 6 shots, they shoot single round magazines. After the initial nerves calm down, they’ll begin to load a few at a time. It takes a little more time, but it makes me more comfortable by taking that extra precaution.

  4. I am fairly new to the sport and a co-worker decided to take me out shooting and thats how i fell in love with it. Then my fairly anti gun father that didn’t believe me that hearing the ring of the steel is one of the best feelings finally came shooting with me and now my whole family goes shooting every couple months. My pistol introduction was a guy at the range that just offered to let me shoot his, even though hand guns made me slightly nervous because of online videos but now i own my own. But the most beneficial is people like John Mcquay that selflessly shares his knowledge and experience with people online, because up here in Canada I have very few options for ways to expand my knowledge. I have learned a lot from mail call mondays and the reloading series and look forward to the skills videos

  5. G’day
    At my range (down under) there is always a sense of camaraderie and respect among those present. I’ve never met someone who at the very least wasn’t willing to share a few thoughts and answer some questions when approached, more the case if you notice someone’s having a tough time/needs a tool/etc help it always a word away. My brother and i have been given spent brass on occasion, we both have had the privilege of touching off a 50bmg of a good bloke’s rifle after a bit of a gasbag with the owner, and the rangey’s are a wealth of knowledge if you seek it.

    I can see some reasons behind not letting someone handle your firearm, trust being the game changer. But if the sad owner doesn’t want to hand over his particular arm or arms then that’s his call for whatever reason he deems fit. I have one rifle that i was little hesitant with at first (one Dad gave me as a gift for my 19th/inheritance, a very pretty 22-250) but when i got home and told him about the day he raised an eyebrow and said why didn’t you let him?, to which i had no reply.

    In the end, someone showing the cold shoulder will leave a sour taste on the day, and leave a certain stereotype to firearm owners. But if they aren’t happy to have their gun picked up and fondled-ed, that’s up to them. It is theirs to do with what they see fit.

  6. I’m with you… we run a long range shooting school here in Southwest Virginia, and I routinely loan my 308’s to shooters who show up with guns that either break along the way (as an AICS recently did when the safety hung and the rifle would cock!)… or, when they’ve simply got a rifle that won’t shoot. I don’t worry about barrel life with the 308’s, and like you I want to see as many Americans learning to shoot well at long range as possible.

  7. I let people shoot my firearms when they are asking a particular question about them. I first started out shooting shotguns. I’ve always wanted to semi auto rifles and precision rifles but couldn’t afford it so I ended up with a shotgun when I could legally purchase. Ended up taking it to the range one day to shoot some skeet and an older gentleman( who I later found out shoots basically on precision rifles is sitting down with a custom 700 in a Super Sniper stock.) Now mind you this is maybe a week or two after I completed reading John Plasters Ultimate Sniper and was awed that I was seeing his stock in person. So after watching him shoot about 10 minutes he asked if I want to shoot it. Now up until the time I’d never used a bolt gun and I expressed this to him and he set me up with 3 rounds of 30-06 hand loads and let me have at it. Now this I found to be a blast, bolt gun shooting 100 yards at diamond targets I was in heaven or at least I thought. After shooting his 700 he then had a friend show up with another 700 with an A4 stock as on the M40 rifles and they let me shoot that too. Now it’s always been my dream to have an A4 stock for an M40 build so it made a huge impact at 18 to be able to shoot these bolt guns. Now I have a 700 of my own in a HS precision stock as I can’t afford an A4 haha but it’s coming that and an A.I. stock on a separate build. Ever since when I was at the range and someone wwanted to use one of my guns, I say have at it. Everything from the NM M1A I had setup with my Bushnell 5-15×40 right down to the cheap 7.62x54R out of my Romak-3 Dragonov. I’m with John it makes a huge impression on new shooters to shoot things you are interested in. It really does make a difference.

  8. I agree, i love shooting and i love my one rifle that i currently own, but i rarely if ever go shooting on my own. Since most of friends do not own their own firearms i end up letting them shoot mine. Also the same is true with family members and again the majority of the time i try to give as much instruction possible, but i am a new shooter myself so good knowledge is coming from hands on experience which is slow as i don’t get to shoot as much as i would like. The bottom line though, is i guess as most of us would i like to try and share the experience.

  9. I absolutely agree with this philosophy. The only way to introduce new shooters is with sound equipment and supervision. I know my hardware and I supervise anyone who handles it. When I’m off duty, I provide intro classes for gun buyers/new shooters. I always break fears and develop comfort levels with my Colt 1860 army replica. The big caliber and cloud of smoke plays their nerves and provides a beautiful opportunity, great experience and plants the seed of desire for more learning.

  10. “I founded 8541 Tactical with a desire to share what knowledge and experience I have with others in the community.” And I thank you for this!

    I set out on a goal for my new hobbies…shooting accuracy with my Rem700P and reloading. There was so much information out there. I picked your site with weekly question opportunities. After lots of practice, trial and error, I am at the beginning of where I wanted to be. With ladder testing I found my rifle’s bullet and powder. It actually works and I found the results repeatable. I’ve focused on my shooting. And now I’m getting awesome groups!

  11. John-

    As a gun writer and member of the firearms media, I am in the same boat as you. I am out on the range a lot, testing new firearms, optics, parts and gear. Many times when I go out to the range I actually end up letting those around me at the range shoot more of my ammo than I get too. First, it gives me a sense of how the general shooting public likes a new product, and I tend to let that help me in my review process. Many times I also get people that have never shot an AR15, or hit steel at 400yds. To be able to give them that ability, and the right equipment to do so is a great feeling. I took my father-in-law out shooting the other day. Until now in his life he had only shot M16’s in the Air Force 20+ years ago, and handguns for DOC qualifications. I was able to put him down behind my precision rifle, helped in dial in the drop for 400yds and gave some other pointers, and he was able to hit steel on his first shot, and he then went 20/20 on the same plate. To see that smile, and face that people make is the reason that I love the shooting sports, and being part of them. Allowing people to get a glimpse at something new that is coming just helps further the sport. Giving people a sense of joy, and giving them something to talk about to their friends, and on the forums the frequent helps give credibility to what those of us in the firearms media do.

    Keep on doing what you are doing. While I agree, there are instances where you would not want someone to handle your weapon, they are few and far between. Giving people the ability to try something new or something they may never have experienced is the only way that someone might find out they like something. That is something they will always remember.

    -Sam Cadle

  12. Great article. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Growing up, I was never exposed to firearms. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I had the opportunity to shoot some of my brother in laws guns. I had always had a negative attitude about guns and really had no interest until then. They showed me how to properly handle and fire the guns and after a few rounds I was hooked. Although I don’t own a huge arsenal and still relatively new to the sport, I try to do the same thing for others now. I try to take new people to the range every chance I get. It’s seems like every time I go, someone new is introduced to the sport.

  13. Completely agree with you on this article. It’s really satisfying to share what you like with other people and to help them discover something that might be new to them. You cover the most important parts I stress as well. Giving them careful, safe instruction (instead of going for a cheap and hurtful laugh). Responsible instruction and setting them up to succeed is the best thing we can do for shooting sports and our rights, even if they never shoot again. I’ve been able to shoot a few new rifles and use different equipment by friendly shooters at the range. It always makes my day.

  14. Dead on. Same here. New to sport but try to share as much as possible. Love taking my adult children and their friends to the range. My 18 year old daughter is excited about the prospect of shooting a mile.

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