Welcome to episode seven of Everyday Marksman Radio. In this episode, we’re going to have a little fun talking about some caricatures of gun owner stereotypes. Fair warning: you might get offended a little bit
Links Mentioned in This Episode
I like this quote because it talks about the importance of self-awareness. Ultimately we are the result of our decisions and actions over time.
In 1897, a London periodical printed an outline or a children’s sermon about this mindfulness. I like this as another version, and is the lesson I plan on teaching my son as he gets older.
The sermon takes the word WATCH, W-A-T-C-H and breaks it into easily-remembered elements: Words, Actions, Thoughts, Companions, and Habits.
I really like this one because it includes Companions, the people you associate with. As my own father used to tell me when I was a boy, “You are the sum of your five closest companions.”
Today is a bit of a fun episode where I’m introducing you to four characters that you might see from time to time in the show or on the blog. This episode is inspired by a discussion that popped up recently in the Everyday Marksman forums, which you can find under the community tab of the site.
Fair warning, there’s also a chance that these characters might offend you- so don’t take it too seriously.
You see, this is a conversation about gun culture stereotypes. We’re going to shine the light on these four characters so we can learn to keep watch over our own words, actions, thoughts, companions and habits.
As is often the case, when we’re deeply embedded in a subculture, we fail to see just how far outside the norm that we really are. And while stereotypes are rarely 100% accurate, there are always elements we can relate to.
By the end of this episode, I want you to think about where on the spectrum of these four characters you might fall. If you’re like me, you’ve probably adopted traits of each of them.
Something to keep in mind is that I’m presenting these characters as negative stereotypes of gun owners, but that doesn’t mean everything about them is bad. It’s simply a cautionary tale of perceptions.
Ok, are you ready?
Let’s talk about Tactical Timmy, Boogaloo Bob, Sheepdog Shane, and Fuddy Fred.
We’ll start with Tactical Timmy.
There’s a moment that stands out to me a few years ago while shooting at private club range on an Air Force base I was stationed at.
I was practicing my positional shooting with a sling, as I did every other week or so. I was having a pretty good session overall, and particularly liked having the entire range to myself- as was often the case.It was just another boringly sunny Sunday afternoon on the Central Coast of California.
About halfway through the session, a somewhat beat up looking Corvette pulled up and parked behind me off to the left. The owner hung around in the car for a bit, scanning the range from behind big shiny aviator sunglasses.
Every once and a while, he’d blow a puff of vape smoke.
After I finished a few strings of fire and unslung, he got out of the car and strolled over to my station. After exchanging a few pleasantries, he started looking over my rifle, a 20” BCM with a quad rail and 4x Elcan optic. And then my range bag, binoculars, sling, and even my target stand.
Nearly all of his questions were about where I got something and how much it cost. Never really what I thought about it, if it was useful or good, or anything like that. Not once did he look over the target I had down range, with a nicely printed tight grouping from the day’s practice.
After about 10 minutes of this, two more cars pulled in and parked next to his dusty Corvette and he excused himself to go greet them. Out hopped a bunch of twenty-somethings, and for the next few minutes they proceeded to unload five or six decked out rifles, plate carriers, helmets, cameras, and whatnot.
After Mr. Corvette donned his plate carrier and helmet, he set off to the line to start shooting at…nothing. For all intents and purposes, it looks like he was there to turn money into noise all the while his friends took pictures and video for Instagram.
As I finished up for the day, I strolled over and looked over their gear. A few quality items stuck out to me, such as First Spear plate carriers, acogs, aimpoints, and such. There was also a fair bit of bargain bin gear, chinese knockoff optics, and no-name junk.
This is a Tactical Timmy.
The short version is that Tactical Timmies are in it for the image. They somehow know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.
You’ve seen the type all over social media. Their gear is pristine, and there is a seemingly endless rotation of fancy rifles, night vision gear, ballistic protection, and slick videos.
In message boards, they fanboy over their favorite weapons and gear. Like car guys who always want the latest model, they denounce anything that isn’t the latest and greatest as being inferior or only suitable for “the poors.”
All the while, they ignore that the weapon and equipment is merely a tool to support the individuals capabilities. And to quote John Simpson from back in episode two, the man who works with a stick is going to defeat the man who plays with a sword.
Some Timmies might actually have some skills, but most don’t. They spend more money on their gear than they do on training or practice ammo. They are the epitome of Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
Maybe you’ve seen them at your local range, wearing the latest in 5.11 tactical clothing, shooting a fully customized Glock with miniature red dot site, but seemingly unable to actually print a group on the target itself.
“Must be an off day” they tell themselves.
Tactical Timmies are in it for the image than the skills. Shooting sports, and the gear they acquire, are a way to convey status and excitement. It’s’ about a pew pew lifestyle.
Speaking of lifestyle, let’s talk about Boogaloo Bob.
Bob, an older gentlemen, is a living meme for the zombie apocalypse.
He came to gun culture not through shooting itself, but through identifying first and foremost as a “prepper.” He spends his days running through his checklists of checklists, hoarding cheap corrosive surplus ammunition, and planning to go at it alone once the balloon goes up.
When it comes to shooting gear, Bob keeps it simple. He spent a little bit of money on thirty-year-old surplus ALICE equipment, with two belt extensions, and has a bargain-bin rifle that he doesn’t really train or practice with. Though if was feeling froggy he might by a high dollar AK because he thinks its impossible to jam even though he uses worn out magazines and cheap ammo.
Of course, in either case, he never bothered to zero his sights or optic, because he doesn’t know any better.
On the rare occasion that boogaloo bob does go out for some training, he looks like something out of a comic book, with a machete strapped across his back and bandoliers of ammo dangling from his triple XL-sized jacket.
If anyone calls Bob out for being too out of shape to be safe and effective, he grumbles about not needing training because he’s got three hundred yards of clean sight lines from his house and “ain’t nobody going to get close to his stash.”
Do you know any Boogaloo Bobs?
He’s your quintessential end-of-the-world prepper, who owns lots of things without really knowing how to use it. He has a 100 lb bug out bag next to the door, loaded with two of everything because, “two is one and one is none,” but doesn’t actually practice rucking under load and probably won’t get more than a few miles before collapsing from exhaustion.
He stockpiles medical supplies, ammo, fuel, and enough food to feed a small community for six months, even though he lives by himself.
But since we’re on the topic of older fellas, let’s talk about Freddy Fudd.
On another Sunday at the same range I ran into Tactical Timmy, there was an older gentleman with his wife. He wore a fishing vest and had a 1911 hanging off of his right hip. His hat was dotted with competition pins from NRA, CMP, and several overseas matches.
He spent half his time walking around talking to every other shooter there, including me, regaling us with tales of his shooting exploits in Canada and England. He criticized my AR as being a plastic poodle shooter, and that I should get myself a real gun like an M1 or an M14.
For the record, I own both of those as well.
At least until the RSO came up from the office. Freddy quickly retreated back to the bench with his wife and quietly coached her into making hits with a .22 rifle.He kept to himself until the RSO asked to see his membership card, at which point Freddy started lashing out that he’s busy and just wants to be left alone.
It turned out that Freddy wasn’t a member of the shooting club, and was hoping nobody would notice.
If you’ve never read over Professor Dave Yamane’s theories on Gun Culture 2.0, I’ll leave a link in the show notes for you. Gun Culture 2.0, according to Professor Yamane, is about self defense.
It’s predecessor, Gun Culture 1.0 was much more about the outdoors and marksmanship competition. Freddy is a product of Gun Culture 1.0, and doesn’t know how to relate to us young bucks very well.
Now, Fuddy Fred doesn’t need to be an old codger wearing his yellow tinted shooting glasses and blaze orange hat. It just as well may be a young competition shooter or hunter who just isn’t very interested in gun culture outside of their little niche.
In the end, this is Freddy’s downfall: he’s shortsighted. By isolating himself from the broader discussion, he think she’s being helpful with comments and thoughts when he is really giving more ammo to opposing political forces.
So what’s the opposite of that? Well, let’s talk about Sheepdog Shane.
When I had this conversation in the Everyday Marksman forum, there was honestly a bit of disagreement over how to think about Shane.
You see, most of you have heard Lt. Col Dave Grossman’s concept of Wolves, Sheep, and Sheepdogs. If you haven’t here’s a little clip that explains it.
This idea is extremely common among the gun owning community, especially veterans, police officers, and concealed carry permit holders– who often fall into the first two categories. The story even made its way into the opening of the 2014 movie American Sniper based on the late Chris Kyle’s book of the same name.
I enjoy this comparison, even though it’s not without a few flaws. But our character Sheepdog Shane takes the analogy just a little too far.
To me, the point of the Sheepdog story is highlighting that there will always be some friction between those standing ready to do violence for the greater good and those who abhor violence even when used to protect them.
Sheepdog Shane goes too far because he is so focused on living the sheepdog lifestyle that he could easily be seen as a wolf himself. Shane attends copious amounts of tactical training, but eschews competition as being merely unrealistic “gaming.” He drives a lifted pickup truck with punisher skulls stuck on the windows next to his pro-second amendment decals.
Shane always wears tactical-looking clothing, even when it isn’t appropriate for the venue. He religiously carries and tells everyone around him, “Concealed means concealed” even though his rip stop cargo pants, cobra-buckled nylon belt shifted to the side, and scanning eyes just scream “I’m carrying a gun.”
Shane looks out of place in a business setting, because the oversized suit that he bought to “dress around the gun” stands out in a bad way among his peers.
Shane shows up to political protests wearing multicam, plate carriers, and toting a rifle to quote “ensure the peace.”
It’s not that any one of these things by themselves are wrong or illegal, but it makes nearly everyone else around him uncomfortable with his stability.
“Well, that’s the way of the Sheepdog” he would say.
Tying it together
So let’s bring this to a point.
I don’t want you to walk away thinking that I’m being hard on gun culture for the sake of controversy. Just about everyone in the culture has elements of Timmy, Bob, Freddy, and Shane in them.
Starting The Everyday Marksman was, in part, an effort to overcome my internal Tactical Timmy by being a little bit more like Freddy and Shane.
It’s OK to like and talk about gear, but temper it with time and practice to develop skills.
It’s OK to be a Boogaloo Bob and prioritize your supplies and checklists over gear. But at least consider the weapon system as a sum of parts including the rifle, ammunition, magazines, and yourself. Also, if you’re an out-of-shape Bob, it’s important to remember that medication is hard to come by in the Boogaloo and you’re better off getting as healthy as possible before it happens.
What about Fuddy Fred? Competition shooters and hunters are great, and have a lot of lessons to pass on. If your priority is these realms of the shooting sports, all I ask is that you realize they are subsets of the whole.
So what about Shane? I’m sure a lot of folks consider yourself a Sheepdog and would take issue with my depiction of the lifestyle. The bottom line is that I 100% support the idea behind the sheepdog mentality, but try to temper it with understanding how it comes across to those who aren’t part of the community.
At the end of the day, that’s what The Everyday Marksman is about- finding that path that preaches being capable across a spectrum of situations while not being dogmatic about it.
Ok, that’s all from me today, guys.
Leave a comment down below about where you think you fall in the spectrum between Timmy, Bob, Freddy, and Shane.
I’ll also leave a link in the notes to the forum discussion on who we thought would win in a fight, just for fun- my money is on Shane.