If you’ve been checking in on TTAG over the last few days, you know that I spent last weekend at the Bushnell Brawl. It was my first precision rifle match, and I had an absolute blast doing it, though I think the time and financial commitments to be successful will keep me from doing it seriously. My first exposure to the community at large was Thursday night at the shooter prep meeting. I stood in this huge barn surrounded by 119 white men, 1 African American guy, 1 guy who was a quasi Pacific Islander, and a sum total of 8 women, 3 competing and 5 there to support their partners. Looking around the room . . .
I leaned over to my buddy who’d convinced me to come, and said, “White men everywhere….”
We had ourselves a good giggle over the whole thing, but both of us knew that what we were seeing didn’t bode well for the future of guns, gun ownership, and gun rights. Opponents of the RKBA insist that we’re all a bunch of toothless, white, racist, hicks just itching to squeeze the trigger and put down some tangos. The truth couldn’t be further from that fecal fiction. You know that. I know that. But we’re trying to win hearts and mind here. And what I saw at the Bushnell Brawl didn’t leave me with the warm and fuzzies.
As I moved between stages of the competition, the whole situation just sat there nagging me in the back of my head. Why was this event showing such a stunning lack of diversity? Was it the money? The time? The drive? Why was I looking at a sea of older white faces? And then I started to listen to my fellow competitors. I sat there while one (a cop, FFS) joked about how I should beat my wife if I didn’t do well in the competition. I watched one get visibly uncomfortable when I mentioned my attempts at twerking. But the tastiest icing on the lack of diversity cake came at the wrap up on the last day.
During the awards ceremony, a fellow joked loudly that “You’re only gay if you’re the one on the receiving end” to much laughter and back slapping.
I left Kingsville frustrated with my community. We spend a lot of time, and burn a lot of electrons whining about getting new people into the shooting sports. But at one of the biggest matches that draws the best of the best, I had run into a half dozen examples of misogyny and hate without really having to perk my ears up too hard. I have a hard enough time getting people to overcome their phobia of guns without having to contend with stereotypes.
Let me just deviate for a second. Precision rifle is a premier shooting sport. The sheer volume of money necessary to even have competitive equipment is staggering. That doesn’t even take into account the amount of time and money necessary to practice enough to crack the top 50. This isn’t some slack-jawed, mouth breathing “gun” event. The guys (and three gals) there are all successful, educated people with the means to pull themselves out of the gutter. Not to lump people in buckets, but I’d expect some of the stuff I heard at a local gun show, but a PRS match?
Some of you read who have read to this point will do doubt be thinking, “Lighten up Francis.” Totally understandable. Maybe I’m a bit too sensitive. But maybe I’m right.
I don’t know what the solution to the problem is short of calling this stuff out when I see it and taking literally every woman, liberal, minority, and homosexual I can find to the range. The only other thing I can do is use this fantastic platform at TTAG to beg you to go be ambassadors for the sport.
When you’re at a range or a match, watch your mouth. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of your mother, children, wife, husband, etc. If you still feel the need to talk about wife beating, your abject hatred of gays, or why Obama is a fascist Kenyan, find some private range time, light off a couple rounds, and mutter it to yourself. Please.