OSD 212: I know a guy
A week ago, a couple of us went to Capitol Armory’s Quiet in the Capitol event. It’s an annual event where a dozen silencer manufacturers let you shoot their cans for free. If you like one of the silencers, go over to Capitol Armory’s tent and place an order for it. Their software fills out the Form 4 for you on the spot, including fingerprints, passport photo, and a trust. It’s basically an all-day silencer festival. There are even food trucks. You only have to stand in line for about 10 minutes for each can you want to shoot, and you get to fire 3 shots. There’s even a free machine gun shoot at the end of the day.
So that was cool.
The day before the event, a friend invited us to his private range. Just four people there, and he brought a bunch of cool guns. We had a 100-yard bay to ourselves, to do whatever we want.
The day after the event, a different friend invited us to a different private range. He met us there with a truck full of machine guns, said “Have fun”, and turned us loose.
So the moral of the story here is that while some publicly accessible events are very fun, the super unique experiences are gated behind personal relationships. Not exactly groundbreaking, right? It’s not news to say that special connections lead to special experiences.
But in gun land, personal relationships aren’t just nice-to-haves — often they’re necessary. Imagine a simple example: you’re a newbie who just bought an AR. You want to mount a red dot sight on the gun and get it zeroed. Here are the things you’re going to need to do:
Decide on a sight.
Learn that the mount height debate exists, and figure out which mount height you want.
Buy some blue loctite.
Discover that you need to do something called bore sighting.
Discover that there’s something called a zero distance, and decide which one you want for your gun.
Join a range, or pay for a lane at a rental range.
Learn what minutes-of-angle are, and figure out what adjustments to make to your dot after each five-shot string.
With YouTube and Reddit at your disposal, getting through this checklist is vastly easier than it was 20 years ago. But it’s still hard enough to cause would-be gun owners to become never-was gun owners.
Now think about what a similar checklist would look like for any of the following:
I want to shoot machine guns in a friendly, non-commercial setting.
I want to shoot and move like those drills I see on YouTube.
Hell, I just want to shoot steel. Is that so much to ask?
Yes, it turns out it is a lot to ask. For a lot of people, the only accessible way to shoot steel is to either start competing, or find a private range, become a member, and go through an onerous steel qualification procedure.
Or, you can know a guy. The procedure there is: show up to his land, shoot steel, done. He’ll coach you on anything you need to know.
The natural response here is that these experiences shouldn’t be gated behind personal relationships. Let’s make rental ranges better. Let’s make info easier to find. Let’s make the products easier to understand and set up.
Sure, let’s do all of those things. Personal relationships shouldn’t be required for people who want to learn about guns. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid them. Quite the opposite — it should be easier for newbies to “know a guy”. If awesome private experiences are too inaccessible, the answer isn’t to make them less awesome or less private — it’s to make them more accessible.
The good news is that this is something we can each move the needle on. Just two steps required:
Be discoverable as a gun person.
Be generous with your time and knowledge when a newbie notices #1.
That’s all it takes to give someone an experience that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. (For example, that’s why we have an office hours program.) At the individual level, that’s the most important thing you can do to create more gun owners.
This week’s links
Chassis system to give your Meta Quest 2 controller into a VR pistol. Video games continue to be a key place for outreach.
Bouncing bullets off of water in ultra slow motion
The Slow Mo guys make great gun content for a universal audience.
“The Right to Train: A Pillar of the Second Amendment”
Forthcoming law review article by Joseph Greenlee of the Firearms Policy Coalition.
No court yet has explored the legal history of the right to train, nor has any article. This article presents the first in-depth historical exploration of the right. It reveals that America’s Founders viewed the right to train as a pillar of the Second Amendment: it supports every aspect of the right, including self-defense, community defense, militia rights, and the prevention of tyranny. Moreover, the activity of training itself was cherished by the Founders. This history reveals that training is central to the right and deserving of robust Second Amendment protection.
Top-quality hats, t-shirts, and patches.
OSD office hours
If you’re a new gun owner, thinking about becoming one, or know someone who is, come to OSD office hours. It’s a free 30-minute video call with an OSD team member to ask any and all your questions.
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Ok, forgive my ignorance, but:
> Yes, it turns out it is a lot to ask. The only way to shoot steel is to either start competing, or find a private range, become a member, and go through an onerous steel qualification procedure.
Both of the outdoor public ranges near me have steel targets, I've shot them, and the only qualification procedure was they ran a magnet over my ammo to make sure I didn't have any green-tips
Do you mean something different than literally shooting steel targets? Or what's going on here?