By Shepard Humphries

I’m not really interested in politics and am among a minority of shooting enthusiasts that decline to beg, berate or bribe those in government for their “gun rights.” There are plenty exciting organizations and people doing marvelous things in that department, and I have no quarrel with them. But as a pioneer in the entertainment shooting industry, I’m in the fortunate position to help create a new market and want to share some ideas about how even those who aren’t involved in the political process are benefiting the cause. Interestingly enough, Don Wills, currently a Congressional candidate, gave me the idea for luxury entertainment shooting . . .

Besides using them for protection and making sure there’s meat on the table, people have enjoyed shooting guns for hundreds of years. Shotgun games have traditionally been the most popular in the commercial entertainment shooting industry.

Over the last couple of decades, a plethora of “machine gun ranges” have popped up around the country. These facilities offer people the opportunity to work off some aggression shooting full-auto guns, often at targets with human faces. Gleeful shouts akin to “kill him!” can be heard from shooters and their friends. So for a mere $50, people are reinforcing the perception that machine guns are used for killing people. This doesn’t happen on my property so it’s none of my business. I simply ask you to consider what’s being “said” here.

Being one of the first viable commercial luxury entertainment shooting firms in the world, we’ve directed and projected our attitude in a different direction. Our generalized demographics are high net worth individuals, families and corporate groups from urban centers. A large percentage of our clients are aligned with a political party that has a reputation for NOT being terribly “gun-friendly.” Most have never fired a gun and had always previously thought of guns as instruments of death.

When an international media corporation sends its top advisors and board members to enjoy our shooting activities, it’s critical that we don’t portray shooting enthusiasts as camouflage-wearing Bubbas who want to kill those cute deer, chipmunks, kindly ATF agents and speed limit signs. We agree with the NRA Training Department’s philosophy of referring to firearms by names other than “weapon” when teaching basic shooting instruction. And when encouraging a shooter to hit a target, we tell them to get “it” rather than “him.”

A couple of years ago I was visited by three Orthodox Jewish school teachers from the Bronx, NY. They shared with me that they had previously gone out of their way to sign anti-gun petitions. But they were in the area where I was teaching and decided to try it out for themselves.

They had an absolute blast, of course, and while shooting, one of them asked if I had any assault rifles. I picked up a glove, lightly slapped her arm and responded, “No, I don’t. All of my rifles — including the AR-15 and the AK-47 — are sporting rifles that have never assaulted anyone. And in my hands they will NEVER initiate violence. I do however have an assault glove, because it just hit you with it.”

We had a good laugh, and they left with information to contemplate about firearms ownership and their use. Several weeks later I received a card from them, and it included a drawing of a glove with a red circle and hash mark through it with the caption, “Ban Assault Gloves.” They had voiced their changed opinions about guns.

My assault glove story isn’t typical of how I interact with clients, but it demonstrates that at times I DO engage in friendly conversations about gun ownership issues. More frequently, I say nothing at all.

Clients anticipate a speech about guns being good, about having to pry them from my cold dead hands, about how many Messicans are crossing the border and killing little blond-haired children and about me needin’ to shoot them folk if they step foot on my property. Lots of clients comment as they leave about how they expected to be preached to about gun rights, and how pleasantly surprised they were when it didn’t happen.

So, what I’m suggesting is that perhaps while having a good time shooting targets with fun sporting guns, talking about the beautiful mountains & sky, about our shared appreciation for dogs, about the fun plinking sound a bullet makes when it hits a metal target and about how much fun we’re having, a lot more is being said than what actually comes out of our mouths.

There’s a time for ranting and raving and preaching to the choir our passion for keeping our guns. But maybe being less verbose also helps make guns more acceptable in the public eye. I suggest that we all invite an anti-gun friend to shoot 22’s with us and never mention anything political…just have fun. If they start the conversation, we might be wise to just skirt it. See what happens. Trust me.

Shepard Humphries is an NRA Appointed Training Counselor, former police sniper team leader, competitive pistol & rifle shooter and principal at Jackson Hole Shooting Experience in Jackson, Wyoming.

18 Responses to More Flies With Sugar: Tone it Down and Just Have Some Fun

  1. I get your point, but I respectfully disagree. My father is a Jewish Democrat in every respect EXCEPT gun rights. He taught my sister and I two shoot. He has a CCW and carries daily. He explained to us from a very early age, that diaspora Jews have always thrown themselves as the mercy of the nations we live in. History has shown us, it doesn’t take much for that mercy to run dry. If you don’t believe that it can happen in the US as well, I have only two words for you: Crown Heights.

    I believe the greatest attack on the 2nd Amendment by the Left/Liberals/Progressives/Whatever came in 1968 by LBJ with the introduction of the “sporting purposes” clause. Since then, the popular culture has been that gun owenership is for sport, hunting, target shooting. You can’t talk about defense, and that the same features that make certain firearms better for military use, make those same guns better for self defense. I’d much rather face a pogrom with 30 round mag than a 10 round mag. I can think of no better example than the 1992 LA riots. The pictures from the news of a Korean owned strip mall that was an island of calm in a sea of violence because each and every shop owner was out in the parking lot or on the roof with a gun.

    Do we, as gun owners, need to use tact? Yes. But we need to work hard to change the popular culture that guns and the 2nd Amendment exist for the G-d given, moral, right of self defense.

  2. Yes, by all means work diligently to change negative attitudes about guns amongst non gun people. I try to be as un Rambo as possible with newbies. I own nothing that would be considered tactical in my kit and the only camo I own is an old boonie hat I wear when I’m gold panning.
    I do discuss politics but in a non confrontional way, except on TTAG of course.

  3. Three Orthodox Jewish school teachers from the Bronx visited Jackson Hole Wyoming, went shooting, and had a blast? What is this world coming too? 🙂

    Shepard, thanks and keep up the great work.

    • Teachers in Jewish schools must get paid a helluva lot better than teachers in my parts. I looked at the prices and packages on the website and about died. He ain’t a jokin when he says it’s for the upper class… Sheesh

  4. Being nice is all well and good, but nobody every seized their rights by being nice. Women did not get the vote by asking politely and going back into the kitchen. Brown v. Board of Education did not come about by black people by kissing white a$$. We did not get Heller and McDonald by smiling engagingly and showing the antis that we’re as cheerful as Pippi Longstocking or as sweet as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. There’s nothing wrong with being happy warriors, but don’t expect it to accomplish anything.

    If you really want to win your rights, smile all you want — and then boycott, protest, exercise your power, voice and voting rights and most of all — sue the bastards when they try to f^ck with you.

  5. This is perfect example of another useful tactic against anti-gun people. It has been said before on this blog and others, shooting at the range is a great way to put them on a path that will change their minds. But it only works with those who are curious and willing to listen.

    Otherwise we follow Ralph’s above direction.

  6. A few days ago a history teacher I know suggested off-handedly to me over lunch that the Second Amendment was no more than antiquated claptrap and no longer applied to our world. This is what we’re up against.

    Boy did I hand it to her.

    So having fun is great…but sometimes you just have to throw down.

    • A history teacher? A HISTORY teacher? That’s just unbelievable! Obviously, she does not know her subject matter.

      And people still think the public schools in this country are working…

      • You’d be surprised how many false intellectuals are well read in history yet believe the travesties of the past could never happen again. Weak-willed people will always stick their heads in the sand.

    • I have a degree in history. As a student teacher I was told that due to my knowledge of history, and having corrected some misconceptions in a class where I was assigned, I would not be getting a job as a teacher. Apparently it wasn’t pc to tell students that protestors during the Viet Nam war were draft dodgers, and believed in communism.

      Nor was I supposed to complain when I caught a student stealing from my briefcase. So goes the way of public edge-you-maw-ka-shun.

      • I beg your pathetic pardon. I was a draft-dodger, and proud of it. But a “communist”? NEVER. I was, and am, an ANARCHIST – and one that accepts the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as workable documents that must be supported.

        Communist. Takes one to know one, they used to say.

        Matter of fact, I DON’T believe in communism. It’s never been seen on this planet, anywhere, anytime.

  7. “I suggest that we all invite an anti-gun friend to shoot 22’s with us and never mention anything political…just have fun. If they start the conversation, we might be wise to just skirt it. See what happens. Trust me.”

    Good advice, and very effective!

    So many of us have friends and family that have ZERO positive experiences with firearms. Sometimes, all it takes is a smile, and a warm invitation to show folks that firearms in and of themselves aren’t inherently evil, and that targeting shooting at a range can be just as fun as golf, basketball, fishing, jogging, fencing, or any other leisure activity.

  8. Folks, this isn’t an “either/or” proposition here.

    We will win this argument by coming at it from all sides. There’s time to be in people’s faces, and there’s times to just let people have fun and think for themselves.

    The “assault glove” quip – that’s priceless. Pithy, without being corny, and very effective at making someone say “Yea, really, where did that ‘assault’ moniker come from, anyway?”

    This is true even at the Supreme Court level. Guess who has been following Shepard’s advice from above?

    Justice Scalia. As of 2010, he’s been reported to have been taking Justice Kagan out to a skeet range.

    Ol’ Tony is getting the job done where none of us can go…

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