Forgive the rambling nature of this post, it's just that I'm still trying to organize my thoughts about an idea I had that I'm trying to get moving. It involves shooting and hanging out with friends, but it's a mixture of several things that I think will be good to do, fun to do, and that people involved will hopefully like and will improve everyone' competency.
I/we kicked off an inaugural event for some local folks I know, that I hope will turn into a monthly or so repeating event. The thing we're trying is to have a get together where we can shoot some standards (or do some other prepper/self-sufficiency activity, probably going to be range things for the most part) and then hang out and socialize afterwards. That's the vision, say, you show up and shoot something like perhaps the IDPA Classifier, or some standards, and some rifle ones whatever can be done within the range limitations, and hang out a bit afterwards. I have some friends who I sometimes train with or shoot matches with, and this is some planned time for us to benchmark ourselves according to a plan. This isn't supposed to be practice time, although for a lot of us who have things get in the way and don't practice enough, this will hopefully at least serve as that also. But, do at least the same drills each time and written score will be kept for bragging rights and for being able to track progress. I'd also like to be able to show this to and to include folks new to shooting/concealed carry etc and to bring them along, if they like what they see. But, for the regulars who shoot matches/etc who are up to speed, just go through the drill courses of fire to demo it for the others. If you've shot matches before, you know why/how it's kept safe and that's something that I think is important for newer folks to see along with how cool and good stuff it is.
We did our first one yesterday on some private property, and it was fun and I'd say a success even though it didn't turn out exactly the way I'd planned. We had maybe 20 people show up, about 10 or so who I know from training classes/matches etc and the remainder were guests brought along. Most of the guests, it turned out, weren't as far along with being able shoot as we thought it would be so we took our time and did a lot more one-on-one instruction and SOing to get them through it. The 10 or so of us who've known each other for years (some of us were in the service together, some of us know each other from things like local amateur radio or gun clubs, or being involved in the same political volunteer work, or even the same churches) sometimes will get together just for fellowship or to hang out. The idea is to get together to do something specific firearms training-wise, and to then have some fellowship time after the range stuff. But, there's another purpose other than just to socialize.
The plan had been to shoot a 25m Appleseed AQT, then set up a handgun qual course similar to the FLETC course of fire that's 60 rounds in strings of 6 (revolver neutral) at distances of 4-15 yards. It's not a high bar to pass (225 out of 300 points) but giving people a number to show where they are on a test involving the basics like reloading, strong hand only, weak hand only and some other stuff is decent and is already stretching the horizons of most folks I know. It took much longer than expected to get everyone to the line a couple of times, and after a couple of hours we only got everyone through the rifle stuff. We stopped there and left the handgun stuff to next month. A couple of the folks who'd heard of Appleseed seemed a lot more intrigued with it after we told them they'd get shown how to do all this properly at an Appleseed event, and maybe there'll be a few of the newer folks push outside of their comfort zone and try that coming up.
After the guns were put away, we brought out the adult beverages and enjoyed hanging out for a while. I am able to schedule a bay at our local outdoor range and figure we'll be doing another one in July. I understand not everyone will be able to make it every month, but I'm hoping this will become "a thing" that's fun but also makes progress towards some kind of purpose.
This is a little different from just plinking in the backyard. I'm not opposed to that, but, I believe it's important for the shooting stuff to be done to "industry standards" if you will with respect to safety and gun handling. Basically, coming to our event, we run a line the same way and with the same safety rules at an IPSC/IDPA/etc match, or at a class. It should be fun also, but, the point is to be safe and to do a planned something (like the drills, classifier, etc) with a score and with an appropriate degree of competency. If it's just my old friends showing up that's fine, we can keep doing the same drills and making an event like this is extra motivation to practice like you're supposed to be doing so that you'll do well in front of others. If new friends show up who are interested but new to shooting, hopefully they'll have fun and also get into doing things the right way. With any luck, I'm optimistic that doing it right and realizing they have a ways to go will make them more seriously consider taking some training beyond the minimum required for a concealed carry permit (here in FL, that minimum requirement is a very low bar to begin with).
Any thoughts, do any of you do something like this or perhaps have some ideas about how this could be done? I know it's not a fully mature concept, but I have a feeling that this might work out pretty well.
I think events like these are great, honestly. I wish more people would get involved in local organizing for shooting events and socializing.
I did something similar when I lived in Montana, but haven't really been able to it since then. Down the line, I'd love for people to organize local groups through the site.
"Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery
It sounds like you guys got it going so far as an organized skill progression monthly event. Your numbers are a good initial turn out as well. I'd surely like to add a 2 gun event to the local club but time is at a premium for the current year. We are seeing promising growth in both 3 gun events and action pistol which is very encouraging. Action pistol runs weekly and is getting steady growth of participants. # gun has grown to monthly event in 2019. Service rifle has gone a bit static up until M1 Carbine match was introduced in June. Now I hear we are adding shooters from other surrounding clubs for the July match, which is great news.
Thanks for thinking and commenting about this. I like socializing at least as much as the next guy, but I'm adamant that this have at least some structure so it doesn't morph into just beer and skittles time. From what I've heard of Swiss "Schutzenfests" the idea is similar. They (I think) make an annual or whatever festival out of marksmanship competitions and you just might get your butt handed to you by an 11 year old girl carrying a Sig556 across her back on a bicycle. I don't know what COF they shoot but it's probably something like either High Power or perhaps like an Appleseed Known Distance shoot. Out of the whole world, the Swiss are the closest to us I can think of in terms the ideal of every citizen part of the militia. Our ideal goes back to April 19, 1775 and the Lexington/Concord militia whereas the Swiss go back to something like 1307 with William Tell being forced to shoot the apple off his son's head as their moment.
The thing I think would be great, if it works out, is for everyone in the group/community to get together and just shoot some drills, something like a qualification perhaps. No big deal, just bragging rights like going and shooting matches with friends is. But, I believe there's value and eventually additional trust built in the group by everyone just routinely and matter-of-fact'ly shooting a standard of some kind and doing it competently, as part of every get together. As I keep forgetting but am reminded repeatedly when I shoot with brand-new shooters, the new shooters tend to think being an expert or being competent means being able to shoot off a gnat's butt at some distance. Almost 20 years into my journey, now I'm thinking that"competent" means very basic marksmanship, yet it does mean competent, aware, and safe gun-handling including simply being able to load and make ready, unload and show clear, and to keep control of yourself with a firearm when you're near a group of people like when you shoot a match. This latter bit of competency rather than marksmanship is where I think we can add the most value to the new folks while hopefully showing them a good example of what "done right" looks like. Then, we'll hang out, have beer & wings and BS afterwards.
I recall ITS Tactical doing something similar every year with a "Muster" event. I always liked the idea.
I'm definitely interested in organizing something like this on a regional or even national level someday. But that starts with building the foundations, which we're doing here. I also need to keep building up the base of content. We've been very shooting focused in the last few months, and I've kinda dropped the ball on some of the survival/mindset content which was also supposed to be a primary focus.
"Man is still the first weapon of war" - Field Marshal Montgomery
We try to do something like this quarterly...
Each of the guys brings a drill idea he wants to run and we each run thru each others chosen drill. Then we run a qualification drill for time/score for bragging rights! This is usually done over a 3-4 hour period. Then we eat some lunch on the range and then spend the second half of the day picking apart new gear, cross training on medical/comms/nav/building observation hides/etc, or do a project for the land owner. In the evening we either grab dinner and drinks somewhere or campout and cook up dinner with drinks and head shred current events or plain b.s. around a fire. It really is alot of fun! We did one last summer that didnt even involve any shooting. It was more of a primitive day setting up a bushcraft camp and learning traps, fire making, shelters, perimeter alarms, etc, that was a blast!
As mentioned earlier, you have to have a plan and schedule ahead of time otherwise it turns into a spitballing match and you get nothing accomplished!
"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
We had event #2 yesterday at a local club/range a couple of us belong to. Yesterday we did the handgun drills we meant to do the first time.
7 people came, a couple of whom were at last month's thing and the rest newcomers. We make up about a one page email blurb for each event giving the who/why/when/where/what, and a couple of the guys who came did so because one of the folks originally involved forwarded it to them (we want that, just mentioning the standard 5 Ws messaging since it's convenient to give to other folks you're trying to interest).
I think it went pretty well and hopefully we got some tactful information/instruction across without being unfriendly or overbearing. We run the line the way you'd do it at a match, and it worked well to rotate all the new folks through the roles (Safety Officer, score keeper etc) with helpful supervision so they could learn those by doing. We found it necessary to add some impromptu instruction on basic techniques for drawing from a holster, and reholstering i.e. don't be That Guy who puts a round through his off-hand fingers because he was using his off-hand to "help out" with the reholstering.
It was mid-90s hot humid and sunny so the beer and skittles afterwards along with good conversation was well-appreciated.
Thank you for coming by The Everyday Marksman. This site and its community are a labor of love. I hope you stick around for a while, and maybe even join us.
We can't Wait to Show You More