Robert’s Question of the Day Post yesterday had a description of the NRA convention  as “the world’s largest gathering of gun-loving old fat white guys.”  This got me thinking about a question that had been rolling around in my mind for awhile but only crystallized when I read that line: Where are all of the young guys (and gals) at the gun clubs?

I belong to two gun clubs here in NH and have been to a few meetings of both and I have generally seen older white guys (not all of them are fat) as the dominant demographic. I’m no spring chicken myself (let’s just say it’s been more than a decade since I saw my 20’s), but it seems that most of the members of these clubs are older than I am. Statistics tell us that more people than ever are getting into the firearms game and not all of these folks are going to be older men. So where are they?

Interestingly, I also have a membership at a public range near my house and I see largely the opposite clientele there. Many of the folks at that range are younger than I am, but I suspect that many of those folks are coming for the thrill of renting a gun or even a full auto gun and going to town for an hour or so.

I’m just curious – do the younger folks not join the gun clubs? Is this demographic more likely to be anti-gun? If so, then we have our work cut out for us because if we don’t change some minds pretty soon, these younger folks will get older, run for office and then start passing much less favorable laws for our community. Are there fewer people in their 20s and 30s getting into guns than we have been led to believe?

98 Responses to Today’s Hunt: Tracking the Elusive Young Shooter

  1. I would certainly agree with your perspective. I’m 27 and it’s impossible to find people my age that like to shoot as much as I like to. All of my shooting buddies are nearly twice my age. I think some of the factors at play, that we may consider, time and money. Let’s face it, guns, ammo, and time are not what they used to be. Look at all the statistics of kids coming out of college with loans, which is starting to be the norm. They’re/we’re flat broke! We have to spend more time working and less time ‘playing’.

    • +1. I’m amazed by some of these comments. College costs have exploded faster than inflation and medical costs combined. I like the idea of spending the money needed to get some good guns, but there is literally no way I could justify the expense at a time when a horrific percentage of people my age are broke, unemployed, and in debt.

    • +2. Shooting is an expensive hobby. In my 20s ammo costs were a serious consideration. If you want to see more young folks at the range, encourage them to get .22s, and donate some ammo to the cause. Just tell ’em to pay it forward with the next generation.

  2. I’m 21. I currently have three guns and am working on an AR build. I’m a member of one of the nicer clubs in MA because a friend of mine was able to sponsor me. I can’t make it out there every weekend (see what “Henry Bowman” said about disposable income and leisure time), but when I do I tend to be one of the youngest people there. I also spend time every day on Northeastshooters.com and try to make it to member get-togethers when I can. The only reason I’m able to afford this is because I’m single, so the little bit of money that I have I get to keep for myself.

  3. I am a 27 year old and started becoming interested in firearms after I got married a little over 2 years ago and my wife and I lived in the “big city” for the first time. I’m an Eagle Scout and always enjoyed shooting at camp, but getting into firearms was completely of my own initiative as no one ever sought to share this “world” with me. There are a few clubs in my area, but the applications to get in require a reference from a member… I have no idea who any members are! Needless to say, I’m not too interested in joining a club where I don’t know anyone, and one that seems exclusive at that. (even though joining the club would give me ample more opportunity to shoot) I honestly feel intimidated walking into gun shops and have not felt “welcome” in this community even though I feel as though I am just as, or more, familiar with the firearms than the guy showing them to me due to my own research. (and no, I don’t tell or act as though I know more than him, I simply listen)
    I want someone to reach out! I want the guys in the shops or in the clubs to say “let me show you something”! I believe inherent male pride keeps men from reaching out due to fear of being one-upped or simple insecurity, but the motorcycle community is a great example of a predominantly male community which is welcoming and hospitable.
    Walk into any motorcycle shop and tell the salesman you aren’t buying, but just looking, and he’ll stick around and swap stories with you all afternoon… Try that in a gun store, and I’ve yet to see it.
    The young guys are interested, believe me because I see it and hear it among friends, coworkers, fellow firefighters, and more, but there seems to be a disconnect between those established in the community and those trying to get in.

    • Big +1. I always feel unwelcome in gun shops… kind of like I’ve wandered into the wrong bar. My most frustrating moment was when I asked an employee to show me how the action on a particular firearm worked and he rolled his eyes and said if I had to ask, I shouldn’t be looking at it.

    • You guys bring up a really good point about the gun store experience. I’ve seen the same thing. Fortunately, I found a local guy here in NH who sells guns part time out of his basement shop and he always has all the time in the world for me. Any time I go over to his place to pick up a gun, I pretty much can count on it being a 2 hour visit. The funny thing is that I have had the same experience at some of the old line cigar stores. Some of the newer stores really try to reach out to the novice, but the older ones don’t. In the end, the newer stores grow while the older ones just tread water. As a community, we have to embrace the new shooters or the community will die. I’ll go out on a limb and offer to help anyone who is in the southern NH / Northern MA area. I’m fairly new to shooting myself, but have amassed a reasonable gun collection and a fair bit of experience in a hurry. Plus, if I don’t know the answer, I can probably find someone who does.

  4. Jeff B couldn’t have said it better. I’m 30 and love going to the range, but have had to seriously limit my forays due to ammo co$ts, range fees, etc. I’ve introduced several of my friends to shooting by taking them to the range and have seen the huge smile on their faces evaporate when we get the final bill.. (I’ve started footing the bill a bit more to ease the shock for first timers). We’ve actually started going to skeet ranges more and handgun ranges less because of how much cheaper shotgun ammo is…
    Things would be different if I lived in a rural area where we could buy our ammo at walmart and shoot up stuff in the woods, but we, like more and more Americans, live in a densely populated suburb where you have to go to a designated location to shoot. I think the real truth about guns that people need to know is how damn expensive they are 🙂

  5. define “gun club”. If it is the version of a country club with a bunch of membership rules, internal politics, and fundraising bs, yes, I will pass. I am an attorney at a large company so I am well compensated, but I deal with this crap at work. I just want to shoot so I go to several gun ranges (notice key word) both public and associated with a gun store. Big difference.

    • + googolplex. I’m in my upper thirties and the range at which I’m a member is full (and I mean full) of people younger than me, shooting all kinds of guns. I’d even go so far as to say the majority of people there are younger than me.

      I’m not aware of that many shooting clubs around here, and frankly, the concept doesn’t sound all that appealing. “Club” implies a lot of baggage I don’t want to deal with. If it were my only option for going shooting I might grit my teeth and deal with it, but thankfully, it’s not. I might eventually join one of the clubs around here because they have some good rifle ranges from what I hear, but I’m pretty wary.

    • For me, the big advantage to the shooting clubs is that they have a much greater variety of ranges and/or operating hours than the local public range. The local public range is very high tech and reasonably, priced, but it is only 60′ long. Fine for handguns, not so much for rifles and shotguns are not allowed. One of the two clubs I belong to has both a 100 yard general purpose range and a 200/300/500/600 yard rifle range in addition to a couple of other ranges. The other club I belong to is a pistol club with only a 50′ range, but they are open until 10:00 P.M. whereas the local public range closes at 8.

  6. I’m guessing it’s a chicken and egg problem. Young people might not want to join a club made up of mostly OFWGs. So how do you get more young people in there so other young people want to join? Not sure.

    I do see a fair amount of younger folks at the ranges in my area. Rifle ranges too. I’d say the average age is probably in the mid 30s. I’d guess that’s about the median age I see at local pistol matches too. It may help that I live in a pretty populated urban area (Seattle area). I’d guess if you were to go to a more rural area you might see the average go up significantly.

    Funny you mention that, because I had a recent “WTF” moment when watching the new season of “Shooting Gallery” on TV a few weeks ago. 90% of the audience behind Michael Bane was OFWGs (and some pretty scruffy looking to boot). It was sort of hilarious and depressing at the same time. I would be sort of embarrassed to watch the show with a new/younger shooter because of it. Certainly not helping to break the stigma of OFWGs being the core demographic.

  7. Being 25 and a shooter myself,I am of the mind to agree with the author. The next 20 years are going to be a stiff test of our rights, as the current generation of college students are conformist and pro-authority to a T. The leftist lean of modern university combined with the side effect of growing up during a period in our history where government has always been expanding its powers created a generation of people who are uninterested in guns, firearms, self reliance, or individual thinking.

    I disagree with the idea that money is factor, as plenty of kids are blowing cash on $100 per month cell phone plans and $50 per month subscriptions to everything from Hulu,Netflix, Xbox/ Playstation subscription.The problem is a combination of cultural demonization of the shooting hobby ( what are you, some kind of terrorist? Going to the range every month…OMG….wait, just got a tweet!) to general apathy. When I bring up the topic of guns for self defense among my peers I get the “who needs a gun” speech….sigh.

  8. Yeah income and leisure time is important, but equally important is availability. I live in SE Houston TX and the only “gun club” (which I’m extremely interested in joining) within an hour and a half has a waiting list that is several years long. I’m not talking about ranges here, there’s a great one (Best Shot Range, Friendswood TX) 15 minutes away, but for an actual club/social group, they’re just aren’t any readily available.

  9. I don’t believe is that younger people are more anti-gun. I would even argue that younger people are more pro-gun than ever before. Look any pretty much any public forum where young’ns hang out- Facebook, Youtube all generally have positive responses to gun related content. You never see gun videos get many negative ‘votes’ or comments. And the anti-gun groups are forced to censor and prevent pro-gun comments because they would simply be swamped with people calling out their BS.

    People are starting to realize that guns are not something to fear. Guns are cool. Throw on a dash of the importance of safety and the vast majority of people don’t have a problem with guns.

  10. Depends on the “young people”. Those who are well-rounded individuals with careers are common at my usual range. I would say the 21-30 demographic is at par with 30-45 and 45+.

    However, we’re definitely producing a largely useless generation who would rather sit behind a gaming console or partake in some manner of electronic reality rather than go out and actually do something. I regard them as children, no matter their age.

    With that said, I’ve also seen a number of young people who grew up playing Call of Duty and such, and have recently become adults and swapped the playstation controller for the real deal.

    I would say a key factor in the issue at large is winning hearts and minds of those who have never touched a gun out of some preconceived notion– reference the litany of former-anti “hey, this is fun” stories you see popping up with increasing frequency. Positive exposure to shooting to the public at large is KEY in continuing that trend, which is why I generally defend the various shooting reality shows that have popped up. Yes, they’re silly, but don’t discount the effect on people who conclude “Hm, that looks like fun.” after an anti-gun upbringing.

  11. I’d lean towards disposable income as the main factor. Sort of like sports that have expensive equipment and require special areas to play. Golf comes to mind… I mean, look at soccer being so big in the whole world because all you need is the ball.

    If clubs want young blood and their fees, they need to make it accessible. Have a share your gun day, or split a ammo can of rounds fund. Try some family friendly things like picnics and what not to bring everyone in and convince SOs that guns aren’t evil.

    Somebody mentioned social media as a time suck. Use that to get members. Last gun club website I visited was squarely in the 90’s, had no real info, and hadn’t been updated. Younger adults aren’t used to that and don’t accept it – they click right by.

    P.S. I think that baseball/football/basketball do better in the States since you have public schools that support those sports with dedicated fields and arenas. Imagine how big shooting as a sport would be if it was a program in public schools? I’d also love the first argument, “Government money can’t be used to support guns!” Uh, US military? lol

  12. At my club, there are quite a few younger members . They’re the largest growing segment. I don’t know their age breakdown but I’d suppose 25 – 35. The reason they’re not more visible is that they’re busy. they have jobs, kids, activities, and less income. Thus, they don’t attend club business meetings and they volunteer the hours required for membership. They’re thus invisible to the old timers who almost live at the club and are very involved in the day to day running of things.

    The difference is free time, disposable income, and other activities.

  13. “I’m just curious – do the younger folks not join the gun clubs?”

    Local club wants $300 up front, $300 a year, and you need to know somebody to get in, and there has to be a slot open. And I just moved to my town. Not many other good places to shoot, but I’d be worried to drop that much before I knew for certain it wasn’t one of those clubs that hates black rifles. Not paying a few hundred a year for the privilege of having some fudd yell at me for have more than 3 round in my AUG magazine.

    • The local clubs here in southern NH are more in the $100 a year plus a small initiation fee. My pistol club does not require sponsorship by a current member – just show up at a meeting and you can join. The larger Nashua Fish and Game Association gives you an option – you can either have a member sponsor you or you can come to one of the board of trustees meetings and one of them will interview you on the spot and “sponsor” you once they determine you are not a dangerous loon. Definitely the right way to go.

  14. People around my age (16-19) love shooting, there is just nobody to take them. You also have to realize that many people ages 16-23 are still in high school or college, they have very little time and budget for shooting. I’m fortunate to have a parent that loves shooting as much as I do, my dad finances almost all my shooting, which I am soooo thankful for!

  15. Thank you guys for publicly posing a question that I have been concerned about for quite a while now. Let me share a couple of thoughts. First I believe the gun community has a propensity to delude itself. There are several areas of discussion where I have trouble understanding why gun folks refuse to honestly analyze the situation and recognize reality. I believe a driver in this is the large extent that the industry plays in disseminating the common information and determining OUR interests. If you look at the major gun media (TV shows, print mags, etc) it is all supported by gun companies. If you look at even the NRA, half the board of directors (I just voted the other day) are owners and players in the industry. Setting the agenda for OUR rights.

    Look at how the gun community has been manipulated thru the black rifle boom, the 380 boom, the 9mm boom, etc. Push push push from all the makers. Are you surprised that folks respond to marketing? Not me. How about the drum beat for training. Oh, you’re somehow going to be denied Heaven and the 72 virgins if you don’t get training. Yup people respond. But the reality is that you CAN NOT train 70 MILLION gun owners. So how realistic is this? I will even whisper a heresy. Is there any honest discussion about crime and CCW? Did ya know that 80 percent of violent crime occurs in only 20 counties in the entire US? There is no calm discussion about this issue. But there is an enormous amount of ‘fear’ creation going on.

    So let me get back to your point. I go to lots of gun shows on the East coast. The typical show has 90 percent white males attending. There is one that I go to, where the principal means of transportation for the vendors and attendees is a hoover-round with oxygen bottles on board. I went to the NRA annual meeting in Charlotte the other year and I saw exactly 4 black folks in 3 days. There is very little minority participation in the gun community. I don’t believe for a minute the image of the average gun owner from the media and players. They are not buying guns looking forward to decades of SASS shooting, IDPA, Camp Perry etc. Not buying guns even to go hunting. They are responding like lemmings to marketing. Spending money in response to it and the guns sit in the closet. Just think that if there have been a million guns purchased last year (and corresponding new owners), let’s just divide that by 50 States (to keep the math simple). Tens of thousands of new gun owners in every state should be filling up ranges. And that has been happening EVERY year for a decade. You would be making appointments like at your doctor, a month ahead to get in the range or club. It isn’t happening. Like all booms they are artificial. They don’t have the organic feel. I’m predicting that at some point the used gun racks at stores will be where a good deal of the newly purchase firearms wind up. My conclusion is that gun ownership is up, Yes. But ACTIVE gun owners really hasn’t changed. It’s a shame but it is a reality. Gun culture is not going to expand in the 21st century as some would like. Guns will be sold because they can be marketed. But we have to understand the current culture and society we operate in.

    Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I really think we need to honestly talk about these issues.

  16. I suspect Gun Clubs are currently a thing for older men who are really into guns, shooting, and the sport. Public Ranges are for anyone. Many people want guns for home and self defense yet are not into frequent shooting activities. Ammo (and gun buys) can be expensive beyond .22 caliber and many young people are struggling financially. Currently, young women in their 20s earn more money than their male peers. The economic crash has hurt males more than females so therefore money again might be an issue. Perhaps some people in their 20s are holding back buying since they are still in the PC anti-gun school propaganda mindset. I suspect that once many people hit their 30s guns for defense are increasingly important (we start to realize we are mortal). Urban Preppers (often liberal) are now buying guns just in case.

    • Urban Preppers (often liberal) are now buying guns just in case.

      And given that the vibe across most of gun culture towards liberals is “F you”, gun clubs aren’t exactly an attractive proposition for that demographic, so you won’t see many of those people joining either. You’ll see them at ranges and taking classes, but paying dues and dealing with the politics of a club, both internal and otherwise? Not so much.

  17. I’m 27 and work with many young professionals who are into guns, or at least pro-gun. Granted, I am in the southeast, so that probably skews the data some. My little brother is bigger into the scene than I am. I agree with all the others on the price issue…many young people aren’t going to join the pricey ‘country club’ style groups, but you do see a few younger guys at IDPA matches and public ranges. I think the future is bright for gun rights and legislation. I believe you’ve got a generation coming of age who embrace personal responsibility and all the freedoms that come with it.

  18. Lots of young shooters at AFS. Lots of young shooters at the Barnstable town range. On the other hand, most Rod & Gun clubs are like country clubs, with too many rules and regulations that have nothing to do with safety, constant genuflecting required to the club officials and long records of vicious discrimination. If I had to beong to a rod & gun in order to shoot, I’d rather give up my guns.

    • Depends I guess on the Rod and Gun Club. I have not found the Nashua Fish and Game Association to be that much of a problem. Joining is pretty easy and the dues are around $100 or so a year.

  19. I disagree with money being the reason most shooters are older in age.

    Young people being young, they make dumber decisions with their money. I see guys my age blowing cash on TVs, designer clothes, $400 per month car payments, and funding Cupcake’s next designer shopping trip.

    When I was getting into shooting last year my ex girlfriend tried to bar me from buying more than two pistols, calling such a purchase a waste of money. Spending $20 a week on eating out wasn’t a problem though.Neither was spending $100 a month out of her paycheck funding cable and internet that she barely used.

    I know guys who spend $300 on the latest Xbox, $100 a month on new video games that sit on a shelf when the next title comes out, $50 a month on subscriptions to online services,$100 per month on smartphone service, and $400+ on the obligatory big screen TV. All that stuff I just listed could fund any number of decent pistols and ammunition for practice, or 1 really nice AK rifle or Marlin lever action.

    I used to be the guy with the internet subscription and Playstation 3 wondering how I could afford a brick of .22LR ammo, until the revelation hit me that instead of spending $900 to play one or two video games 8 hours a week on equipment that will be obsolete in 5 years , I could sell all that stuff, and dry fire during my free time with a firearm that will last me decades.

    • I think ST pretty much nailed it. I see my 31 year old niece and she is always crying that she has no money, but she got an I-phone, and I-pad within a month of them coming out. She owns 5 or 6 computers, has subscriptions for movies, games, etc. but no money or time to shoot with her husband. Every time I see her, she is mezmerised by a video screen, be it her phone, tablet or laptop (she carries all 3 with her at all times). Her husband to his credit, does go out with my brother (his father-in-law) to shoot when he can.

    • Right, because choosing to spend your money on anything other than guns is a “dumb decision”. Congratulations, you’re one of the “I hate young people” OFWG’s that Ford was talking about, and the main reason (other than money) that young people don’t join gun clubs – because the arrogance and bad attitude of the existing members turns them off.

      • Hmmm. neither ST or I said anything about hating young people. Both of us did say that we may not agree with the spending habits we sometimes see. My niece is always saying that she wants to shoot, spend time at the range, take some training classes, etc, but having said all of that, she doesn’t put any effort into making it happen. I will freely admit that she is one of the few young people I currently interact with on a regular basis. After reading all the posts here from folks under 30, I am learning that the lack of free time seems to be a big reason as well as the “club” thing is not as attractive as just going to a public range. Yeah, the public range (if available in your area) requires less investment of time, but interacting with a regular group of people in a club can be very rewarding. I learned a LOT from the group of older guys that I saw each week when I was in my 20’s. Going to a public range, there is much less chance to build those kinds of relationships, to be mentored or coached because no one has a personal investment in the facility. An example: I went trap shooting with my dad in Ohio at his club (I’m a TERRIBLE trap shooter). One of the “regulars” there came over to coach me. The first thing he says to me is “You are a pistol shooter, aren’t you?” I replied, “Yep, does it show that bad?” He then spent half an hour teaching me about trap shooting. I learned days later that this guy was a multi-time state champion, and has shot in dozens of national championships, but he didn’t mind helping a rookie like me. I didn’t see it as attitude towards me, I saw it as much needed and appreciated help that I knew I needed and that he didn’t have to do at all. I’m well into my 50’s now, and right now, money is tight, there isn’t any coin left for any of my hobbies, it’s all going to food, shelter, beater cars, and medical bills, so I can appreciate folks on a tight budget. I’ve been in this bind for over 5 years with probably 5 more to go, which is why I haven’t paid a membership to a club in several years

  20. I’m 27 and always feel like the “kid” at my local club, though the older people there are very nice and welcoming. There are a few “elite” types, but that goes for any hobby or sport.

    One factor could be the “virtualization” of modern life. Rather than take the work to seek out firearms, learn about them, and gain skill with them, some younger types might just hunker down in front of their TV with Call of Duty and call it even.

    Also, young people are bombarded with “progressive” pussification 24/7 that teaches them that they’re helpless and encourages them to be “gentle” and content being victims. A couple people my age that I’ve talked to are surprised upon learning that it’s not such a hassle to own, let alone carry a gun in this state.

    It’s a combination of parenting, environment, and character.

  21. It might be because joining gun clubs costs money, and younger people (early 20’s) don’t always have the extra money to throw around

    • Well, you are going to spend money whether you join a club or go to a public range. Example: Here in Southern NH, there is a large club called the Nashua Fish and Game Association. Dues are about $125 and that gives you unlimited shooting rights on their many ranges. An alternative is the Manchester Firing Line where you pay $16/hour to use their range. You do have the option to pay $165 per year for a membership which drops the range cost to $9 per hour. I have a membership there because it is close to my house and having a membership means that I can reserve a lane which is a boon on winter weekends when the general public may face a 2 hour wait for an open lane.

  22. I agree but think it is mainly a cash issue. As you get older you tend to have more disposable income. If a younger guy has saved his cash to buy a decent gun and shoot it, he is still hard pressed to find friends who will do the same. Younger people tend to blow their cash on stupid sh#t, just like I did when I was young and thought I knew everything.

  23. I would love to join the local gun club, the problem is you have to know people in the club and get them to sponsor you. Since I do not know anyone there is little chance of me joining

    • I have a question – have you contacted anyone at the gun club and asked if there is an alternative? If the club has open membership slots, it seems to me that it would be in their interest to make it easier rather than harder to join. My experience in working with the folks at the local clubs here in NH is that they bend over backwards to get new folks, particularly younger ones in the door. May not be the case elsewhere though.

  24. I’m 29 and frankly I have no interest in joining a gun club. There’s lots in the area, most (if not all) have their own ranges , with yearly membership dues, and required service to the club (cleaning ranges, attending events, etc.). I simply don’t have the time for all that. The one public range in the area is only open Sat and Sun and I’m helping the inlaws’ business then. All I want is a public range where I can shoot that’s open during the hours I’m free to go.

    • My experience has been that the local clubs have more availability than the local public ranges around my neck of the woods. A plus for the clubs if you ask me.

  25. Here in CT, you have many private clubs with their own land and club houses/property where you can shoot

    I have never joined a club because all the clubs had some high yearly fees or some odd requirements

    I can get behind having to do maintenance at the the private club or putting in time to keep the club land maintained or service to other members (e.g. consession stand, cutting grass etc)

    I hated the fact that some clubs had these following rules:

    1) Everyone has to pass the class to be an RO and on your own dime
    2) Some allow guests, most do not including family members
    3) You need to get the nod from three other club members which means putting in time at meetings sitting around doing nothing and smushing just to so you can pay a yearly fee
    4) Even if you are a member, you have limitation on how often you can use the club facility (might as well go to a range) or they have no limitation and a small shooting area and large membership which means you barely get to use the private range if you want to.
    5) Everyone at the club was a OFWG and pretty much you are not getting in unless you are a OFWG and preferable with lots of $$$$

    I could go on. I am sure depending on where you live, it will be better or worse but in my area I was never able to find a club I felt like I wanted to join.

    This year, my brother, some cousins and some friends are actually looking at purchasing 10 or 12 acres and having our own private club given how depressed land prices have become.

  26. At the risk of sounding like an old fart (I’m 42), I think several basic principles are lacking in Gen Y (in general). The first is self-sufficiency. Not just the US, but the world is becoming increasingly urban. Cities are great for many things, but they are hives of specialization. The concepts of growing food, defending against predators, even keeping comfortable and functional in adverse weather — these are no longer considerations. Someone else is always there (or so we think) to protect us, feed us, do our laundry, fix our cars and unstop our toilets. Gun culture, by necessity, carries with it the geist of personal responsibility, and in return, I’ve seen gun culture infuse its practitioners with a can-do spirit in almost all realms.

    The second principle that’s disappearing is an acknowledgment of evil. This carries over into an under-appreciation for the missions of the military and law enforcement. If peace is possible with a handshake and the right attitude, then our service branches are an embarrassment — an unwelcome reminder of the real world. As a result, many Americans of enlistment age don’t consider the military as an option. Instead, it’s a way-station for dead-eyed hicks and homeys to learn to be “men” instead of menschen. Let them go into the abyss. As long as we (the young, the educated, the urban) stay away from the yawning black maw, we need not look into it.

    But even disregarding the disdain for military service (and, by extension, veterans), what about evil in our cities? You’d think with the 24-hour (bad) news cycle, we’d get it into our thick skulls that bad people are everywhere. But the same constant thrum of information also causes cognitive overload. With so much evil, we can’t possibly fight it, so let’s just not try. That’s principle number 3 on my list — Gen Y has not learned self-control, especially information control. For this, we must blame prior generations, not just the young folks. Self-control was once considered a virtue. Not any more, with an abundance of cheap food, credit and things to envy. Is it any wonder people assume a gun owner wants to pump bullets into everyone who irritates them? When self-control is off the table, that’s what happens. But what’s really a problem (and I experience this too) is not controlling the information coming into your brain. There’s just too much, and most of it is bad. But instead of shutting down, why aren’t these more educated young people using that information? Is it only because the media (those who would show us how to process all these stories of domestic abuse and crime) are leaving out the important moral to these stories? Were I a young woman on the dating scene in the big city, there’s no way I wouldn’t pack a pistol — preferably two. But reconciling the dangers inherent from men with declining checks on their behaviors with the notion that “I really want to hook up!” requires acknowledging the information, then acting on it. Date, hook up, whatever, but be smart and acknowledge the things you can do to keep yourself safe.

    Sorry for the long, rambling comment. There are a lot of promising young people out there, and the rise of the ‘net and social media has enabled some young thinkers to go beyond the narrative of the mainstream media (which is hostile to the virtues I mentioned). But in the end, people really are sheep — we’re slaves to information, slaves to our interdependency and most of all, we’re slaves to our “tribes.” A single Gen Y who likes to shoot won’t shoot unless he or she has someone to shoot with, a “tribe” to join. Somehow, we need to encourage young gun-owning and gun-using tribes the way we encourage women gun-owners. As for ideas, don’t ask me. I’m too old.

    • It does make you sound like an old fart. Your points sound like the same stuff every generation says about the next. ‘Gen Y’ will say the same thing about Gen whatever-is-next. Kids these days…

      Compare the youth of the 60s & 70s to those growing up today. I think you’ll find the current social and economic climate will have made them more responsible and more realistic than those who preceded them.

      • I think that the points made by Rokurota are valid. Back when I was a kid, we had a lot more freedom and made our own fun. I look around at many of my peers and even myself and see how much more protective we are of our kids than our parents were. Kids today are heavily scheduled – the concept of taking off for hours or for that matter, even walking to school have been abandoned as we as a society seem to be more fearful than in past generations. This in turn, produces children that have less experience in fending for themselves and makes them more reliant on social structures for everything.

  27. They are at IDPA events shooting handguns. My generation grew up with a gun taboo (80’s and 90’s), especially handguns. So now that we are of age…

    …it’s handguns first for us. Foghorn had a great article about making the jump from tactical to traditional. He raised some very good points.

  28. Speaking as an OFWG, I suspect one of the problems for younger folks is TIME. Most gun club meetings are evenings during the week, and that’s tough to do when you are working 8 hours a day plus commute. So the more active club members tend to be retirees with time to spare. Our public range is open Wednesday through Monday, but you tend to see the retired folks there during the week and the younger people on the weekends. I know I have a lot more time for volunteer activities (gun club, local library fundraisers, etc.) now that I am retired.

    But we OFWGs need to work on making the club functions more fun for kids and younger shooters. Two of our most popular shoots are .22 silhouette shoots (100 and 200 yards), with ANY rifle/sight combination allowed, shot off cross sticks from the prone position for the 3 longer distances (offhand for the closest). We let anyone under 16 shoot all 4 positions off cross sticks, which makes it a lot easier and more fun for kids who might have a hard time holding the rifle up in an offhand position. .22 silhouette is also a lot of fun, because you get immediate feedback – hit the target, it goes clang and falls over. Younger people like these becasue they can try out their new “tactical” .22s, and everyone likes being able to use scopes. Plus, .22LR is a whole bunch cheaper to shoot than centerfire matches.

  29. 22-year old graduate student chiming in. For me, I guess it’s because of two reasons. 1) I was raised to be as independent as possible, and pretty much everything I’ve learned to-date about firearms has been self-taught (or taught by people I know and who know what they’re doing). That alone keeps me from seeking out a club and just sticking to the range. 2) I actually have yet to see any sort of club advertisement, even in the places I would expect to see them (mom and pop gun shop, the local range, etc.). The closest thing I’ve seen or heard was a class-wide invite from my CHL instructor to come shoot IPSC on Tuesday nights (classes kept me from saying yes).

    As for the money issue, I dunno. I blow more money on stupid sh*t than I probably should, but I’ve still managed to secure a Walther PPS, Ruger SP101, Mossberg 100 ATR, and Ruger Mini-30 while staying within my means (shopping around can do wonders, and the Mossy was a gift). My biggest problem is, as mentioned before, I’m in grad school so my time is limited at best. Not only that, but I’ve had to REALLY think about how to properly secure said firearms without bankrupting myself on a safe (I figured it out). Add to that the fact that finding a good range out in this area is not easy (range owners around here are indifferent at best) and I can see why most people my age don’t want to get into the sport in the first place, much less join a club.

  30. Private “Gun clubs” that restrict membership to special people, sponsorship, and “gotta know someone” are just bullshit, elitist snobbery. The “members” of these clubs have no interest in the young as they are expected to be naive, unsafe, blah, blah… They know where they can shove their private clubs.

    The rest of the clubs that are open to anyone who can afford to spend $150 (at least) per year to become members are a little better. However, the reality is that on top of the expensive firearms hardware they just bought, then the ridiculously overpriced ammo they have to keep buying, now they have to shell out more money just to shoot at the club with a membership. The membership savings don’t mean squat unless you shoot at least 1 or 2 times per month. Most youngsters don’t shoot that much. I’m a little older but even I can’t afford to shoot that much.

    Like it or not, EVERYTHING is about money. Combine that with the fact that there is so much to learn about guns and shooting that the youngsters don’t have the patience to study the sport. They just wanna go shoot stuff every now and again. And lets not forget that when you’re at the gun club, there are lots and lots of “extra” rules. So why go to the club and put up with someone’s authority when you can head out to the desert and make your own rules. Young people don’t like rules.

    Indeed, I realize I’m making a lot of generalizations, but I was young once too. Been there, done that.

  31. im a 19 year old freshman from ucsb and went shooting for the first time a little over a year ago. and i was hooked. i’ve bought 2 rifles, a mosin and 10/22, and have saved up another 700 in cash and looking to buy again soon. i just wish i had more friends into this sort of thing. everybody else here blows they re money on booze and pot.

  32. Your question dovetails with some aspects of the gun culture that I have been thinking about the last few years.

    I’ve thought about the following:

    1. Are folks really buying more guns?
    2. Why are folks buying more guns?
    3. Now what are they doing?
    4. Why are they doing what they are doing?

    Let’s address each point:
    Point 1. Yes. My read of the various data does suggest that gun sales are good. No dispute. How much? How many NEW owners? The data isn’t as good. But I will give that there are net new owners out there.

    Point 2. The gun community has a great ability to delude itself. Not only on this issue but others. I won’t go into the other gun related areas that I question. But suffice to say that not everything that is published or discussed makes sense to me. Reality keeps intruding on the accepted wisdom we are pushed. According to accepted wisdom the net new owners have seen that guns are good and provide protection and the technology is cool and want tons more guns and etc etc. All this as a result of some self realization and thought process of their own. I believe that a major factor in the increase in gun sales is directly do to marketing. People respond to marketing and the concepts and ideas planted in our head by advertisers of all shapes and forms. TV shows, movies, video games, printed rags, radio etc. In the gun world the gun makers are huge players in what the next boom is. Think black rifle, 380, mini 9mm, CCW, training etc. They even have a huge role in the NRA and determining the direction of the 2A fight. But I digress. So to me, the booms are ginned up by folks who will profit from it. It’s just a free market at work. This doesn’t bother me one bit. But I see the reality of it.

    Point 3/4. If you accept that my point above is correct on why folks are buying guns then the next should be obvious. The growth is not organic. It’s essentially an artificial boom. Bound to crash. I believe the vast majority of the guns purchased are laying in closets gathering dust. This is why you don’t see the kids at the range. You have all the reasons the other commentors have made (expensive, availability, time, etc). Their owners got the momentary adrenaline rush of buying something new and “dangerous” (according to the general culture) and now they will lose interest. It wasn’t a self generated decision to buy the gun. But they are still counted as gun owners. Yet they aren’t ACTIVE gun owners. Like calling Mitt Romney a hunter and gun owner. But I digress.

    If the million guns purchased generated new ACTIVE owners, and this has been happening for a decade, you would have to make an appointment to go to the range a month in advance. But that isn’t happening. There would be a million SASS shooters. But there aren’t. There would be 50 thousand shooters at Camp Perry but its a tenth of that. You get the idea. You’re observation shows what the reality is. Owning a gun doesn’t make you an ACTIVE gun owner. A gun in the closet or drawer doesn’t even make you a Second Amendment supporter.

    My belief is that you have to track ACTIVE gun owners/participation/2A support from just plain old gun ownership. Think the kid with the suped up car who lives cars, racing, tinkering, versus the little old church lady who drives 10 blocks to church services on Sunday. There are some of us who live guns. The vast majority don’t. Reality is what it is.

    In today’s world you can get a million folks to buy a ShamWow or a pet rock. That’s the easy part. The “science” of marketing works. That is what made Billy Mays a billionaire.

  33. Youths just have different priorities. If Apple ever decides to sell an iGun, every kid on the block will want to have one. Or two.

  34. Speaking from the dark side of 50 but as a parent of two young people, I think the answer is simpler still. That generation is at best indifferent to clubs of all kinds–not just gun clubs. Where older generations tended to be affiliation-oriented (and drew their individual identities from the groups to which they were openly affiliated), the younger crowd is not.

    • Dead on right. If you’re looking to see if younger people if your area are shooting, go to ranges, don’t look in clubs. And if you only have shooting clubs in your area, realize that you’re making shooting much less attractive to younger people.

    • I too am on the dark side of 50 and am not affiliation-oriented in the least. No Rotary, Shriners, Odd Fellows or gun clubs that require referrals for me.

      I’m luck in that I joined the club out here because 1) it’s closer than any one of the very few gun ranges in the Portland area, 2) it’s cheaper given that I shoot at least twice a month, often more, and 3) it has terrific facilities (action range, lit 50/100 yard range open til 9pm every night, skeet, trap, and 200/300/600 yard range, pistol range, indoor rim fire range, and more). All this for less than $150 per year – a smokin deal. Oh, and I can take guests as often as I like. And from the comments on this post, I consider myself quite lucky to have such a place to shoot.

      That said, members are mostly OFWGs (myself included). Though I’ve seen a good number of younger men and women at the range. And most all the volunteers are retired – who else has the time?

  35. 1. Time.
    2. As you can discover by talking to any of the fraternal organizations (be it the Masonic lodges in your area, Elks, Rotary, etc), young people aren’t joining clubs/fraternal orgs. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a gun club or anything else.

    Fastest way to get young guys to join a club is to get young women interested first. Once you have young women involved, the young men will follow…

  36. There’s some reasonable argument in here, but I’d like to answer the particular “dadgum these younkers are too pussified to know how to be a real man like alla mah geenaration”. Couple points.

    1: We do play games, own computers (and so do all of you, by the way, otherwise you wouldn’t be here) etc. etc.

    2: No that doesn’t mean we can’t handle a weapon.

    3: We are no more “librul” “progressive” or any such thing than the previous generation. In fact, we’re more conservative/libertarian. You hippies.

    4: We do not, as a generation, lack “self control”, “self-sufficiency” or any other particular attributes any more (or less) than the preceding two generations. Methinks there’s some projection going on.

    5: What we do have is more things to take up our time. From games and TV to those things called children, to jobs, school, dating ad infinitum. The OFWG phenomenon probably has more to do with retirement than anything else.

    6: A caveat to point #5, my generation does not do “clubs”. I’ve noticed this in the VFW, the MOPH, my gun club, everywhere. We didn’t come up understanding the social club phenomenon.

    My parents didn’t belong to any clubs. I only got into them after the military, as a way of assimilating into the veteran community. Most young people have no point of reference to belonging in a club. In fact, I’d have never known about my gun club, nor been able to join, except that my great uncle (RIP Sgt. Joe DaMore) was a founding member. He dragooned me into joining shortly before his passing, and I’ve been there ever since.

    TL:DR – There are plenty of reasons why my generation owns more guns yet belongs to fewer clubs. Lack of any attributes is not any of them. Go back to practicing your “get off my lawn” speech.

    • +(infinity sign)…. I was getting quite upset seeing all of the “ol timer’s” rant and rave how us “youngin’s” do nothing but spend our money on frivolous gadgets and the latest and greatest i-something.

      It has nothing to do with wasting money or from a lack of self control – because let’s be honest, I don’t think it was the 18-24 crowd that bought houses with money we didn’t have, or took out a mortgage to pay back with money we didn’t make. We just don’t do clubs, at least not physical clubs. While we may spend our time online discussing topics of interest, or playing video games (which I love), or chit-chatting at the local range with the old timers, we don’t necessarily need to be “associated” with any particular crowd, nor do we feel to need to have matching patches on our range bags.
      I’m in the 25-31 crowd now and have more disposable income than my parents ever had in their 30 years of work. I also have a family, continuing education, volunteering, and other stuff I’d rather be doing than “clubbing” (don’t mind the play on words).

  37. access… Access… ACCESS! In my area (within a 1 hour drive)there are a bunch of private clubs. All of them have onerous requirements for membership, are expensive ($300+ just to apply!), have to be sponsored by a member, silly rules – no more than 5 rounds in a rifle, no EBRs, 5 hours a week service requirements….

    There are 3 “public” ranges that I know of (within a 1 hour drive). Actually privately owned but open to the public for a fee or a small membership cost. Two have 10 indoor lanes each, and one of those is a dimly lit cave. The 3rd is very busy (The NRA’s range at the National HQ.) It is a great SOFTA 50yard indoor range where any semi-auto rifle and any handgun up to .50 caliber is allowed. Did I mention that it is busy? Outdoor ranges? 1 is 90 minutes away.
    There exactly no ranges less than 30 minutes away by freeway. You are talking about a serious investment in time just for the 2 way travel.

    We need to somehow break the stranglehold that local govs have on indoor ranges in cities. Until we do, we will have trouble attracting and keeping younger members.

  38. After reading the other posts here, I got to thinking about the various gun clubs I have belonged to. All of them were private, with private ranges, and none of them had hunting priveledges. The first one was pretty good, we had access to an indoor 50 foot range with 6 stations that was available pretty much from 6:00 AM to midnight. They also had an outdoor facility at a different location with 25 yard, 50 yard and 100 yard ranges that was available from 9:00 AM ’till sunset (no lights). At the time I was a member I was in my late 20’s and the membership was majority guys in their 40’s, but we had several wives, and girlfriends also members. Also had a youth program to help boyscouts earn their marksmanship badge. No hunting land, just ranges and the dues were minimal, maybe $20-25 a year. I used to shoot there at least twice a week for a couple of hours each night over a period of 8 maybe 10 years. This was in northwest NJ and I am not sure they even exist anymore

    The next club I joined was in PA, They had a very active youth program, with certified instructors for the PA firearms safety course to get a hunting license, and also the boyscouts. At the time I was a member there, they were having range problems (noise, lead, neighbors, etc) I shot there maybe a dozen times over a period of 3 years. Again, dues were minimal (I seem to recall they were like $20 a year) They still exist and have a very active membership, but I haven’t been there in over 20 years, so I can’t say what their demographic is.

    The last club I joined is also in PA and has a limit on membership. They have outdoor ranges and have strict rules on shooting times in an effort to keep peace with the neighbors. When I joined the initiation fee was around $100 with a $50 family plan for yearly dues. I spent more time there fixing the roof than I ever did shooting, and after 5 years, let my membership lapse. Membership was limited to 175 plus imediate family members for those that bought family memberships. They also had an active youth program, teaching Hunter safety classes, and also the boyscouts. I saw a few women come to the meetings, but seldom did I see anyone but old fat white guys at a scheduled shoot. It’s been over 5 years since I have been there (money got really tight about then).

    None of these had a strong “Had to know someone to get in” attitude, you basically had to show an interest in shooting, and show that you were going to be safe on the range. I understand hunting clubs are very different. Because of the scarcity of open hunting land in the suburban areas I have lived, all the hunting clubs I was aware of required land ownership to be a member. And it was MUCH more of an “Old boys” group where you indeed had to know someone to be considered, and membership was quite a bit more expensive.

    So in my experience, yeah, it is gonna cost you some money to be a member of a gun club. Probably no more than if you bowl in a league, or play golf, or softball, unless you want to add hunting in addition to having access to a range. My brother and his wife wanted to get involved in SASS and spent about $4000 on guns and gear, only to have their local range drop their SASS affiliation to free up time for “tactical” events. That seems to be the current fad in shooting here in the northeast. So what does all of this mean in relation to young people going out shooting? Gun clubs require an investment of time, time to go to meetings, to participate at events, to score targets at events, clean up the ranges after an event, to do maintenance at the range. Probably stuff that younger folks, especially those with families in this economy don’t have time to do. I know that I don’t have time to do it right now. Wish I did.

  39. I am 21, and most definitely one of the youngest members of my local gun club. IMO, most guys my age are off chasing girls or at college and feel like they don’t have the time.

  40. *applauds Tarrou*
    Also, I recommend everyone think back to your 20s. You were balancing school, dating, trying to break into a good career, and for some folks: learning to be a parent.

    I’ve collected a modest few guns, but all are fairly inexpensive: a lever action .22, a CZ-75, a Rem870. The larger purchases take months to save for between student loans, medical bills, and living costs.

    The sinking economy and rising inflation is hitting those younger persons who have to make their own way hard. Employers are getting picky, requiring years of experience; years of cheap credit and the numbers of people now defaulting on loans has caused tuition prices to soar; food prices are inflated; and gas is still twice what it was in the 90s.

    Fun times to be trying to set the framework for the next 40 years of your life. When your average lunch is a cup of ramen, it’s hard to justify buying a $20 box of ammo very often.

    • This post nails it pretty well. Shooting sports are expensive. Many younger adults lack the funds to justify a membership at a private range. Rather than pay for a membership, I shoot at friends’ homes in rural areas or I even go to forest locations to set up my own range. State and National Forests are great places for this sort of thing. Other than the mileage expense to get there, they are free!

      • Money and time are certainly factors for younger folks at lots of private clubs. Do you go to a golf club and ask worry that the lack of youngins means golf is dying? No. They are playing at public courses…less often..because they have kids, work, bills, and getting laid to tend to. When I have time to shoot, I go to the club with my dad. He is retired and has plenty of time for shooting, reloading, and putting in volunteer hours. He joined a sailing club and a shooting club AFTER he got the kids out of the house and retired.

  41. I turned 25 in January and I’m proudly holding up the rear in regards to age. I’m constantly trying to recruit people to my range.

    It must be because younger guys such as myself are embarrassed of our arsenals that only contain .22 LR. It’s cheap and I’m working my way to bigger and better pistols and rifles.

    I’m working on it okay! Cheers,

    Mike

  42. It’s simple – we AREN’T in gun clubs, because they cost money. And for 20-somethings in college, working entry level jobs, and trying to get their lives going, setting aside the money for a gun club membership (and attending meetings and events) is a lot to ask for.

    If you live in most parts of the country, finding a quiet spot on the prairie or in the hills is free shooting. Why join a club? And if you live in a police state like I do (New Jersey), the clubs have very high rates. Public ranges are an option, and if you go to any of the big ones here (Range 14 on the grounds of Fort Dix is a good example), you will note half the people there are 25 and younger. Many of them have one nice gun, or a few of cheap surplus ones, because that’s all they can afford. Joining a private club is not an option.

    When I finish college in a few months, get a good job, and move out of here I will be able to indulge in the shooting hobby more, but joining a club is likely out of the question until I’m settled down and (hopefully) financially secure.

  43. I would have to disagree with the idea that young people are not a part of clubs. Young people are a part of Greek organizations, activity councils, martial arts clubs, civic and progressive clubs. In some places, young people are even a part of some gun clubs.

    The issue with why older white guys are the ones going shooting can be traced back to the fact that younger people do not prioritize gun ownership in the same way. My generation cannot partake of what they are not aware exists. Until I took two of my close friends to the range they thought I was just a stereotypical gun crazed veteran. Once they both found out how much sheer fun it is to shoot they both changed their views,and the girlfriend of my pal even went to her dad for more lessons on shooting afterwards.

    My generation was growing up during the Clinton years when the Assault Weapons Ban was in place and gun control was ‘en vogue’ so to speak, and after Clinton left the Oval Office September 11th happened.The culture of shooting that many of you old timers grew up under is completely dead in urban America and on life support in the rural sectors.

    50 years ago it was expected that a young child-male or female-would be taught the use of arms, as my mother was taught by my grandfather the use of a .357 magnum and his 12 gauge shotgun .My grandpa was no Special Forces troop, but a 20 year factory man who knew what it took to defend his way of life and family. Today passing on the tradition of shooting to a young kid is a good way to end up in bracelets in some parts of the country, including where my family grew up in semi-urban Illinois.

    Had I not joined the Air Force, I wouldn’t be writing this now.Growing up in Illinois with zero exposure to firearms I was the picture next to the dictionary term ‘liberal’ . I look back on my days of ignorance with the shame of ages. The first time I pressed the trigger on that M-16 at Lackland during BMT I instantly wondered why I waited 20 years to do that. A decade and change of leftist programming died when that 5.56mm NATO round left the barrel. Assault Weapon? Heck, that was fun!

    Sadly, my story is an exception to the rule. Even in rural parts of America political correctness has taken the rifle out of the hands of our youth.Catch is during the meantime the kids are still being bombarded with leftist indoctrination in the meantime , so the only story anyone has of firearms is the one MSNBC broadcasts.

    This might be an extreme statement to make, but like clockwork *every single time* I present my weapons for a young person to shoot for the first time they always ask if my guns are “licensed”, or wonder if its illegal for them to shoot because they think they need said “license” to step to the firing line.My generation is so desensitized to big government involvement that we assume regulation when there isn’t any.

    This malaise of 20 something people who have never been behind the trigger represents a direct threat to our rights in the next 20 years.All who call themselves gun owners NEED to take a young person to the range , even if they are the most anti-gun person you know.They may never spend their own money on a weapon, but when a proposition comes down to take away our freedoms such people will think twice about selling our way of life down the river.

    • “Greek organizations, activity councils, martial arts clubs, civic and progressive clubs”… frats are clubs? Wow, now I’m really glad I never joined one! Activity councils? What the F is an activity council? MA clubs? Are you just grabbing terms you heard on 20/20? Other than a frat, I don’t know a single person in my undergrad or grad courses that are in any type of club (with the exception of maybe Sam’s Club). OK – so these “clubs” may be around, but I can guarantee that there was a MUCH higher club participation rate 30 years ago…

    • ST- I literally just turned 25 and have been shooting only since it was legal to own a handgun. I was like you, I hated guns my entire life until I started learning to shoot at my mothers bequest when I started thinking about going into the military and she wanted me to know about guns before I did. I’ve been hooked ever since.

      I have to give a big +1 to the bring a young person, especially anti-gun people in my opinion to the range. I brought a girl I was dating to the range who was a HUGE anti-gun liberal to shoot a couple of times and managed to get her to soften up over time on the idea. Within a few months she went from thinking all guns are bad always to maybe just high-capacity (and actual high cap mags, she came around to seeing a 30rd AR as standard) being bad. We’re no longer together but who knows, it certainly softens the opposition a bit and I’m sure her gun loving conservative father is glad.

      I see this a lot. Many of my coworkers at Starbucks are basically on the fence. Most of them are so used to the anti-gun rhetoric they talk a mean anti-gun rant but when I press them (I also did debate for 7yrs so that helps) I find they don’t have any real hard beliefs. That scares me because I know few of them would have done any kind of soul searching before voting and if we don’t get the word out enough ignorant people could really do some damage to our rights.

      I always try and take my younger friends shooting. I took one of the older ladies daughters to the range to teach her and even in my family. My brother lives in Chicago and has slowly drifted farther left, I make sure we go shooting EVERY time he’s in town. The only person I haven’t been able to turn or at least nullify an anti-gun vote is my rabidly liberal father (we just agree to not talk about it).

  44. I’m almost 34, so I assume I’m straddling the line a bit. I’m technically Generation X but have many friends that are Generation Y. I don’t consider myself an OFWG, although I may have a few of those attributes. My insight is that it is not only video game culture and competing technological hobbies that are to blame. I think it starts with how you were raised. Then your priorities and other life processes have an effect on your ability to spend your discretionary income and how much discretionary income you may have.

    For me in specific, I was raised in a family that did not have guns in the house. The closest thing was a starter pistol my Dad kept in a drawer. I went in the Marines at 18 did my four years and then got out. At that time I knew I wanted to have my own firearms at some point. Since I wasn’t a hunter, that point fell behind some of my other hobbies like motorcycles, drinking, and chasing women. There was also the time and money spent going to college to better my career opportunities.

    I got married and had my first kid at 30. That mostly ended the two latter hobbies for me and I was done with school. So I have started to return to the concept of a firearms related hobby. I’m nearly a decade out of the military and I miss going to the range. I bought my first pistol a few years ago now and have added a few more weapons. I recently went to a local gun club and shot a IPSC style practice round and had a blast. Joining the club is prohibitive though because of both time and money. While I have more time than I used to I don’t have regular free time to devote. Especially, when shooting more requires me to spend more time away from my kids. They are not old enough (3 years and 7 months old) to partake at this point and my number one priority before hobbies is making sure I meet my obligations as a parent. The local club that I shot the IPSC round at is open to the public on practice dates, but regular membership is $250 to start and $150 annually after that. I don’t pay that much in a year of range fees at the other public ranges I go to, but those other ranges don’t allow you to practice from a holster or move and shoot.

    I know there are many people at and below my age level in similar situation. They are young either pre-occupied with other life situations or starting a family and range time isn’t a priority. Maybe we will start to see more of the current 20-30 year old folks at the range as the Gen Y population gets closer to 30.

    As an aside, I belong to a non-profit group and we have a really hard time getting people my age and younger to actually join the club. You can get volunteers for a day of work on a project that is organized by a group like Habitat for Humanity, but joining a group to participate in an ongoing basis of charity is really difficult.

  45. Here to say the same thing as the other 20-somethings. It’s hard to justify the costs of club membership when guns & ammo is expensive enough already (and the savvier ones around my age are also trying to save for retirement or at least have cash in case we lose our jobs in this economy. Add to that all the other things like starting families, car payments, rent, and so on, and you end up with all the older, wealthier, people as the rank and file of most gun clubs.

    Gun clubs and ranges should offer discounts or loyalty programs for younger customers – at least some measures to bring in the younger crowd.

  46. The people that go to the range I frequent are mostly younger people. I used to belong to a private gun club with older folk but a lot of them were Fudds. Why should I pay 160 a year to get contemptuous glares when I begin practicing with my WASR-10?

    The older gentlemen that were obsessed with shooting $3,000 souped up .22LR bolt action rifles were the worst. They complained when I shot my Yugo M48 at the far end of the firing line just to avoid disturbing them too much! Gimme a break. I’m not gonna put up with that.

    I’m very fortunate to have found a range with friendly staff my age who are all shooting enthusiasts and very knowledgable.

  47. When I was younger and in my early 20s I had a Nylon 66 which I bought at 18, a Model 12 shotgun Grandfather gave me, a Marlin 39A that I bought when I was 20, a .22lr Colt Peacemaker I bought when I was 21.
    I shot mostly .22lr and really still do.
    You can have fun with guns on a beer budget!

  48. I try to keep my 2 Gen Y girls into guns, even if it just plinking with a .22lr. They seem to really like my Nylon 66.
    Still think a .22lr rifle is best to introduce newbies to the sport.

  49. I am a member of the gun club at my college (Washington State), but they never really appeal to me. Honestly the only reason I am in the club is because I can join the facebook group online, or on the University website. I actually go shooting more often with the members of the Tabletop Gaming Club (Dungeons and Dragons club), and we have a blast, and I have introduced many new people to shooting, people not interested in the sport usually.

    Other people have said it, money is a problem, my roomate lives on about $6,000 a year and is home about 3 of his waking hours (School mostly), but what I see to be a big deterrent for younger (<30) people in terms of gun clubbing, is that a gun club offers very little. I would assume (I am 22 myself) that in years past you would go to a gun club and shoot, meet new members, and share your thoughts on guns. But now we have the internet, I can browse thousands of fourms and blogs about the subject, chat with far more people than I could ever meet, and never leave the comfort of my bed. If I get the gun community already, and can go shoot in the various wild gravel pits for free, why would I ever want to go to a gun club?

    Also most formal ranges are static and seem to be more targeted at bench shooting, which I assume (again, I am young) is more suitable to the elders. The young folk like the action of close quarters shooting. They see it in their video games, on DVDs, and on youtube. I would assume a good perportion of YT videos of "tactical" stuff is about how to do a CQB better. So the kids like the fancy stuff, and not so much the long range patience based disciplines.

    Build a shoot house CQB theme park and have full auto MP5s that fire simunition only, make millions.

  50. here is an honest answer…

    im 28, ive been shooting since i was a kid. when i was about 22 i inherited my father’s rifles and shotguns and i began to buy my own. i have a few old bolt rifles, and a few of the newer more affordable “staples” for my age i guess, an sks/cetme clone/ak clone, i dont even own any handguns… and honestly i cant go anywhere to shoot them. most of the nicer(safer) places to shoot around where im from are clubs, and i don’t know anyone there, so no one will vouch for me for a membership. so i have to go to the dangerous public ranges around that are overcrowded and full of people who look down their own barrels, then i hide in the last stall and hope no one sees me(or lazes me).

    so why dont i go to meetings and meet the members, you say? because, im constantly viewed as the new young kid who looks like hes just here because he played to much modern warfare 2 and bought a rifle. in all sincerity its happened so many times to me i cant count. i call a range, or go to a range, or email someone, and as soon as im seen in person im brushed off, ignored, sent around in circles, or just plain old told,”were not taking new members”(that was at a range that had one person there… on a sunday).

    i know it cant be my safety practices that put people off because most of the time i cant even get as far as to unpack a firearm. its very frustrating because people start looking at me like i have a horn growing out of my head the minute i walk into the place. i was a member at a very small community range for a while but the caretaker honestly watched me like i was a criminal, and even went so far as to tell me he was going to alert the ATFE because i was firing an “illegal weapon”(it wasnt an illegal weapon, it was a century ak clone, but he said the barrel looked short and he wanted to “teach me a lesson just in case i got accused again”, i have no plans to experience that again)

    so there you go, i know its not the ONLY reason you don’t see 20 somethings at the range, but im sure im not the only one with this problem. by the way if anyone knows a range with young folk in pittsburgh where i can shoot my new rem 700 let me know.

  51. I am 33 and have been into guns for most of my life. There are 3 public ranges within a relatively short distance of where I live. There are at least 2 gun clubs within a relatively short distance of where I live. I have looked into joining each of the gun clubs, but have not done so for a couple reasons. First, is the cost. Over the course of a year, I can shoot at the public ranges for the same or less as it would cost to join a club. Second and more importantly, the “politics” of the gun clubs are a major turn-off. I think it is a hassle to have to apply for membership and have an existing member sponsor me. I think it is a hassle to have the existing members vote on whether or not I can be allowed to join “their” club. I do not like the idea of having to volunteer a certain number of hours per year for the benefit of the club. One of the clubs stated that to become a member, one has to go through an “indoctrination course.” To me, this conjures up images of a bunch of whackos. Basically, in a nutshell, the gun clubs are now reaping what they have sowed. They wanted to be exclusive and limit who could belong and participate in their sport. Consequently, new shooters have decided that the clubs and their exclusiveness are not worth the hassle.

  52. Perhaps some of us are failing in our job as dads?

    This no-longer-young (albeit still not fat) White Guy spent last weekend shooting with his 20-something son. While said son is a responsible young man with a good job, mortgages and car payments limit his disposable income.

    Lucky for him he has a saintly father who supplies all the ammo. 😉

  53. I’m 26 and I don’t join the gun clubs because the OFWGs just seem to hate the young guys. OFWGs always stare at the young people like we’re idiots. There are a few OFWGs at my range who are very nice, but they are the exception. And since I’m not white, I cannot tell if they hate me because I’m young or because I’m not white.

    I’d love to be a member of a shooting club with a bunch of OFWGs. OFWGs are the best at everything. They’re the ones smashing it on the tennis courts, they’re the ones that get the best lap times at the race track, and they generally have much knowledge to pass around. I’ve made a few OFWG friends from calguns.net that taught me how to reload, but that’s not enough. Can we get some OFWG mentors for the younger people?

    • If the OFWG’s at your local gun club are anything like the OFWG’s I know, they are not hating you, they are just checking you out to see if you are safe, have a genuine interest in whatever shooting sport you are involved in and if you have any talent. The more thoughtful ones might be remembering what and how they were shooting when they were your age. But then (the following is said with a smile!) if you have a 12″ high purple Mohawk hair cut and 6 pounds of metal hanging off your facial piercings (remember I have no idea what you look like) , then maybe they might be just looking at you out of shock. If you are in northeast PA, I’d be willing to spend some time coaching or just hang out and talk guns.

  54. I’m not a spring chicken but I still consider myself to be in the younger section of gun enthusiasts. I’m 28 and the reason I am not a member of a gun club is pure economics. Why pay for a club when i can go to public land with targets I build all cheaper than going to a club. Plus hanging out with guys who scoff at guns that are “made of plastic” gets really old. No pun intended.

  55. I’m 27, own several guns, and have no intention of ever joining a gun club. Why? Well the $200+ fees are a turn off when I can pay $25 a year to go to the range at the local state park, but the biggest reason is the attitude projected by the people at the clubs. If you don’t already know a member, you have to attend a meeting and spend hours kissing people’s ass hoping that you’ll get lucky enough to find someone to sponsor you. Then you have to have joined the NRA (I’m already a member, but the fact that they expect you to pay another organization a yearly fee just to pay THEM a yearly fee is asinine). If you happen to get in, you still have to show up and spend time cleaning and doing other crap, not to mention the bigotry against people under 40 and against non-US guns.

    If I’m going to pay you $200 a year to shoot at your range, then you’d better treat it like a damn business. Anyone can become a member as long as they pay. Other than putting brooms around to sweep up their area, you clean your own damn range. No one should have to kiss your ass for the “privilege” of paying you money for using the range.

    I prefer to just go with my girlfriend to her parents farm (longer drive though) and shoot there. No jerk range officers who hate anyone under 60 and any gun made after 1950, no waiting for a ceasefire to set up / check your targets, no yearly fees while still being expected to clean the place like it’s free to use, etc.

    The real problem is that we need some ranges owned and run by younger people (under 40) – I think if we had that, then you’d see plenty of young shooters going to those ranges.

  56. Gun clubs usually are not a lot of fun. They usually are very close knit and clannish. Then you have the older jerks who know it all verbally attack your gun, and compete in events with stuff that costs a small fortune. Yeah, when I was younger, some older club members let you know that you were not really welcome.

  57. Most gun clubs have high annual membership fee’s excluding many younger shooters. Also you have to be sponsored in by a member, usually an older white guy who will only sponsor people he knows, usually an older white guy.

  58. Who wants to pay hefty annual dues to get dumped on by a bunch of OFWG right wing bigoted homophobic fanatics? I’ve considered it. My deer rifle is actually pretty nice, they wouldn’t look down on it too much. Right wing gun culture in this country is not inclusive. There are tons of racists (don’t deny it, they post here), misogynists (you know who you are), and bitter curmudgeons among the armed populace. You are your own worst enemy.

    • Lulz, gun owners have a large racist faction…. umm every group has racist and ignorant people. If you want to avoid racist, misogynist, or overweight people than move to the moon.

      • I’ve considered the moon, but I’d still be stuck with myself, and I could stand to lose more than a few pounds.

        Seriously, a lot (I’m not saying a majority, but a lot) of gun businesses and clubs are downright unfriendly to people who don’t fit into a very narrow worldview. I think there’s a siege mentality among armed folks, which doesn’t help with the friendly outreach thing.

  59. I’m 22, and I have school and work so a gunclub is to expensive for the amount of time I have available to shoot. Also a quick stop at a local indoor range is about all the time I have. Additionally, I use Georgia WMA’s to shoot, $20 for a whole year, or shoot on my property or a friends property. Last I looked the waiting time for gunclubs was 2 years and you have to have 2 sponsors, I am not looking to hand our with older gentlemen for 2 years just to get in, I have no problem with elders, but the two senior citizens I shoot with are not in clubs and I am not going to make friends just to get in. Gun clubs also require service and membership to the NRA which is a watered down organization that has alot of problems compared to GOA or similar groups.

  60. I am saddened by all the negative experiences mentioned by the younger shooters at gun clubs. I didn’t experience any of this when I was in my 20’s. But if I get involved in a club in the future, I will be as friendly as possible towards any young folks that come around.

  61. My observation as an instructor and competitor is that most Gun Culture 2.0 people (those that don’t grow up with guns) don’t enter the gun culture until they are out of college and/or have time and funds to buy guns. Most of the new gun owners and entry level students I see in classes are in the 25-40 demographic.

    A lot of them don’t have time to commit to all day shooting matches or gun club meetings, but they will attend 1/2 day classes and go to the range for short practice sessions. Many of them have families and careers and other interests (shooting may not be their primary hobby).

  62. I’m a young gun owner (got a carry permit and my first gun at 22 and I’m 24 now) and often talk to my friends and coworkers (most of them young) about guns.

    Bottom line. Price. If we can afford the guns, which is really more about how willing are we to forgo going out to drinks/movie/parties with friends, video games, etc. for guns. It’s another thing (and a deterrent) if we can afford to shoot them and secure them.

    Most of these people work minimum wage jobs and go to school or else are just starting off (and paying every spare penny to student loans). Guns, especially anything good are extremely expensive for my age group. Before I hear the usual “budget” firearms rant, these people often can’t afford ammo to shoot MY guns, let alone one’s of their own. I love guns, it’s my hobby and passion, I’m willing to push the majority of my spare income and save up to buy the ones I want.

    I’ve never had or seen the experience many of the other young people describe being at a gun shop. All the ones in my hometown in Georgia are INCREDIBLY welcoming to those new to firearms. Maybe it’s that Southern thing. But the cost of a gun club around here is pretty high. I pay about $20 a month for a really nice, but very simple range. Nothing that lets me practice anything other than marksmanship.

    Believe me, there are a lot of young gun owners at there and MANY MANY more that would like to be. But not everyone that would like a gun or are gun “dabblers,” are willing to dominate their income with guns.Then there’s the fact a lot of them live with parents who regardless of politics (I live in a state that’s as red as they come remember) are sometimes a little less keen on their baby owning a deadly weapon that costs more than the bi-yearly insurance mommy’s been paying for.

    Want to get more young shooters? Buy your kids/grand kids a gun or sponsor their shooting if they buy it themselves.

    I hated guns my whole life (because of my rabid democratic father). Parents divorced, my mom bought me a S&W 459 from a friend of hers and within a week or two I went from a persuasive (I did nationally competitive debate in High School/College for 8 years) gun hater to gun lover. I’ve been doing my best to turn as many people my age (who do lean more anti-gun than most) to the light.

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