Come to the shooting range, and you’ll meet some of the nicest people who shoot guns you’ll ever know. When I first began my shooting career I had so many fears. I was afraid that when it was my turn to shoot, everyone would be watching me and something horrible would happen – like my gun would jam or someone would laugh at me or I would miss all the targets. Here’s what I found out about people who shoot guns.
My background is classical violin and playing in a bluegrass band, where I could pretty much control everything onstage. But with the shooting, I was stepping into an arena where I had zero control over anything and little knowledge. I felt anxious. When I first started shooting, everyone that I saw had fancy equipment and tools that were unknown to me. Here I was with my little inexpensive guns, some eye and ear protection and a snack. Many of the other shooters looked like they owned a sporting goods store. All of these things seemed to add to my anxiety.
As I took a deep breath and looked around at the other people who shoot guns, I started to realize that no one judges about anything. You see, you are accepted simply because you have shown up and expressed an interest in an activity for which everyone there has a keen interest.
One thing that I love about the shooting sports is how helpful and kind everyone is. At first, I didn’t realize this … but later, I came to understand that everyone is actually on your side and they want you to do well. These folks are willing to give you tips if you will take their advice, and most of that advice is very good.
I have been fortunate enough to shoot with some very famous people – such as Jerry Miculek and Janna Reeves. If you don’t recognize these names, it’s worth your time on Google to check them out. They are amazing shooters and some of the nicest, most helpful people you could imagine. Spending time with them on the range is like shooting hoops with your favorite basketball player in the whole world or spending the day at the Atlanta Falcons training camp.
Another cool thing about shooting is you don’t have to know someone who knows someone, be invited, or pay a huge fee. For the price of the entry, you have the ability to shoot with the pros. You will get their advice and the most amazing thing of all is that many of them will let you borrow a gun if yours isn’t working or simply let you try out their incredible equipment. I have been left almost speechless when a young woman that I was competing against gave me her pistol to shoot because she thought it would fit my hands better. I don’t know of any other sport where that would be the case.
It takes many people to organize and staff a shooting event; some you see and some you might not even think of. The location of the event needs to be established, notifications to shooters must be made, the stages must be laid out and the squads organized. Arrangements for food to be available, prize tables organized and trophies or plaques need to be obtained. Each stage needs a range officer to make sure that things run smoothly and safely. It’s hard to believe, but these things are attended to by volunteers. Yes, that’s right! For the love of the sport, people give up their weekends to show up at shooting ranges across the country to encourage shooters to do their best and improve their skills. I think that’s remarkable.
Another almost unbelievably kind gesture that I’ve seen at shooting matches is the incredible generosity shown by industry-related suppliers. At most matches, there is a prize table. You get to pick something from the table in the order that you finish the competition. These prize tables are always heaping with useful items.
My sister and I have walked away from matches with gun parts, cleaning supplies and other various gun-related items from the tables. As you can see, the shooting sports are filled with generous and inviting people.
Cheyenne Dalton is an up-and-coming junior competition in 3-gun, USPSA, and Rimfire challenge. She writes a column about her shooting experiences, sponsored by Voquartsen Firearms. She's been competing for 4 years and has won state titles, along with the Limited Ladies Rimfire World championship 2 times (2014 & 2016). When she's not at the range, she is traveling with her Bluegrass band, "That Dalton Gang," where she plays mandolin and violin, along with singing lead vocals. Her future plans include lots of shooting and continuing her education with a focus on being a pharmacist. She lives on a family farm in Missouri. View all posts by Cheyenne Dalton