I’ve recently come across several of those “50 things every man should know or do” articles on this here interweb thing. Some of the items range from ridiculous (shotgun a beer) to ridiculously simple (jump start a car). Most of the so-called necessities are a simple reflection of the author, but some trends are visible to the observant. For example, many listed items reflect hands-on talent for things largely becoming obsolete in today’s highly specialized world. Car maintenance at home, for example, is becoming an obsolete. I’m continually shocked at the number of people I meet who don’t have the faintest idea of how to repair a leaking toilet. I’ve met more than a few men who didn’t know the basics of using a handsaw. The list goes on …
While I’m not about to attempt an all-inclusive list of my own, I will attempt to cover some gun related items every man should know. But first some reasons why. There was a point in history when a basic knowledge of martial skills was required of all gentlemen. How to hold a sword, string a bow, ride a horse, etc. were all expected. This applied to all gentlemen, regardless of whether you ever expected to fight in earnest.
The bottom line is that men, real men, should at least know how to conduct themselves responsibly in the presence of weapons.
This applies even if you aren’t “into” guns, don’t own guns, or don’t particularly care for guns. Maybe especially if you don’t care for guns. A little knowledge may help dispel some of the mindless hysteria out there. So here goes:
1) Know the 3 most basic safety rules
Treat every gun as loaded, observe trigger discipline, and observe muzzle discipline. If you assume a gun is loaded, don’t put your finger on the trigger until ready to shoot, and never point the gun at anyone, EVER, you’ll avoid 99% of the safety issues associated with firearms. This basic knowledge will allow you to act responsibly and respectfully if you ever find yourself in a situation where you must handle a gun.
2) Know how to check and unload most basic firearm types
This one is a little more involved, but imagine the following scenario. You are with your fiancé, consoling here family at the wake of her great-uncle Lester. A little blue-haired lady approaches you and says “Sonny, could you be a dear? Lester kept several guns in his closet and I’ve always been nervous about them. Could you put those in the garage?” Being able to confidently check, unload and make safe various firearms can come in handy. If you can handle single and double action revolvers, Browning-style automatic pistols, bolt/lever/pump action rifles and shotguns, you can handle most everything made. You probably can’t learn this at your local community college, but you should learn it somewhere.
3) Know how to shoulder a long-arm and obtain a decent sight picture
Even if you never intend to use a gun, knowing how to at least hold it correctly is important. There are various social situations (at least in Texas) where someone might hand you a rifle and ask you to try your luck at that tin can over yonder. Even if you’re not a marksman, you should at least know the basics of stance and sights to not look like a greenhorn. #4 can help with this.
4) Go out shooting at least once and fire a box of ammo
You may never own a gun. You may even be anti-gun. But as a man, you should at least understand the use of one. The best way is to actually go to a range and fire through a box of ammo. You don’t have to get the macho 44 magnum, or buffalo gun, or giant boom-stick. Quite the opposite, a .22 rimfire rifle and a decent shooting coach can teach you more about shooting in 30 minutes than all the web-based material put together. You may still be anti-gun when you leave, but at least you’ll have some experience under your belt.
Now, knowing the above four things don’t make you a gun nut, nor do they make you a gun expert. That’s not the intent. But if you ever find yourself in the presence of a firearm, whatever the reason, you’ll be able to step forward and act in a responsible fashion. That’s the true meaning of a real man.
As a side note, there’s nothing on that list a woman couldn’t do, either. In fact, it may even be more important for a woman to know those things in today’s world.