As 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!