Note from Matt: MLC is a long time reader and supporter of the site. After we were recently talking about the idea of “Fun is Allowed” in the community Discord server, MLC asked if he could contribute a few thoughts on the topic. This marks his first contribution to the site, so thanks for putting it together, MLC!
Firearms are not toys. They are serious tools that can be dangerous, which is why we emphasize safety at every turn. When handled properly, they are serious tools for serious uses.
There is an entire industry of dour-faced men with beards teaching their students how to employ firearms in the most dire of situations. Rivers of ink have spilled about what calibers, bullet types, guns, accessories and techniques all add up to the most effective means of putting rounds on target and what the terminal effects are.
We judge range trips and matches with what we learned or how we improved, measuring groups and split times and countless other metrics.
What gets lost in all the metrics, math and discussions on stance, grip, optic choice etc is the fact that shooting is a lot of fun. One need look no further than the mile wide grin on a new shooter’s face when they hit the bulls eye the first time. The uncontrollable giggle of grown men when they run through a magazine on full auto is something I like to call “Exhibit B”.
There’s a tendency to view everything from a serious, tactical perspective. People look at a gun or a particular shooting challenge and if they can’t equate it to some aspect of surviving a zombie sharknado, or some very specific tactical use case, they dismiss it.
I’ve been as guilty as the next Tactical Timmy of looking at a gun and turning up my nose at it’s lack of matte black coloring, a red dot and a magazine extension.
What we often forget is that we’re allowed look at an impractical, un-tactical, or antiquated firearm and just think it’s cool and enjoy shooting it. Of course, I would rather take an AR with all the currently-fashionable accouterment on it into a fire fight than a lever action in .22. However, that lever action .22 is a ton of fun to shoot and there is slightly less than nothing wrong with that.
If we’re being totally honest, most firearms decisions people make are somewhat based on emotion. They then just paper it over with grown-up sounding rationalization. A person who brings up things like SOCOM units, ergonomics and the stopping power of a 1911 in .45 ACP drags everyone involved down a rabbit hole of argumentation nobody is really interested in.
Much like the guy who buys a tiger striped Desert Eagle, that acolyte of JMB could just as honestly say they like 1911’s because they’re fun to shoot and Grandad carried on in WW2.
What, your grandfather didn’t carry a Desert Eagle in WW2?
Life is Worth Living
As a wise man once said, “life is for the living.” Another wise man once said “only the military can suck all the fun out of going to the range all day and being paid to shoot free ammo.”
The first paraphrase speaks to having fun. Not everything can or should be serious all the time, and this includes shooting. That doesn’t mean you should twirl loaded guns on your fingers, but going to shoot for fun is as good for the soul as it is a perfectly legitimate reason to put some rounds down range.
The second paraphrase speaks to taking an absolutely phenomenal day and making it a marathon event of drudgery and work. Make no mistake, training is important, especially for professionals in arms. People in the civilian shooting world tend to do the same thing the military does and worry so much about training they inadvertently suck the fun out it.
It is common for high level competition shooters to take a month of their sport’s off season and not touch or look at a firearm. They get burned out training, going to the range over and over for perfecting a particular skillset. Every round fired adds to metrics of some kind to measure their progress.
This is what high level shooters must do in order to maximize their potential, but most of them will tell you they don’t enjoy it. What they enjoy is winning matches. The range trips are the work they must put in to win the matches.
The majority of the people reading this are not high level competition shooters. You probably don’t go to the range multiple times a week with a solid training plan as you gear up for a particular match which will grant you entry to a national or international level match. You probably aren’t sponsored and will probably never be on a supersquad.
Be an Ambassador
What most of the people reading this are though, is ambassadors and torch passers. You will take someone on their first range trip someday, if you haven’t already. You might one day teach someone in the next generation to shoot.
For that reason, we all need to remember that fun is allowed. It’s the ambassadors who introduce new shooters to the joy of this art that have to remember it can and should be fun.
After all, the best way to protect our Second Amendment rights is to grow the number of people who care about their right to own a Hi-point with an Aimpoint mounted on the slide. The fastest way to lose our Second Amendment rights is to take the joy out of a new shooter’s first experience and send them running towards the open arms of our political opponents.