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Archery (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

I don’t remember open carrying at my daughter’s archery class. It’s easy to do. Forgetting you’re open carrying, I mean. If you’re not wearing your firearm in plain view to ruffle gun muggles’ feathers, it tends to slip your mind. Unless someone shady looking suddenly sidles up to you. Then you remember. It’s only happened a couple of times, but the adrenaline rush is quite spectacular. Anyway, I only knew I’d open carried at the archery range after the fact, when the instructor eyed me from across her desk and said . . .

she was putting-up a 30.07 sign prohibiting open carry. I was momentarily flummoxed. Wait, I thought, scrambling to gain mental purchase on the situation. When did I open carry here? Last week? Guess so. Apparently, “some of the mothers were worried about it.” Uh, OK.

It wasn’t the best defense of open carry I’ve ever made. I was focused on a worse prospect: that she’d put up a 30.06 sign prohibiting concealed carry as well. Then I’d have to decide between stashing my gat in the Merc or taking my daughter to another indoor archery range where I could exercise my gun rights.

If the archery instructor banned concealed carry, it would be easy enough for me to “put my foot down” and refuse to darken their door again. Firearms freedom is my brand. Aside from criminal deterrence, I open carry to spread the message, to normalize guns. So…walk the talk, baby! Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

My second ex-wife, my daughter’s mother, is an alcoholic. She’s on a slow train to oblivion, via oblivion. As a single father, I’m focused on providing my daughter with stability. Moving her to Texas was a wrench. Settling her into her new life, a struggle.

Don’t get me wrong: she’s a happy, healthy, hard-working, relentlessly snarky pre-teen. Her far-flung sisters, my housekeeper and adult female friends are an excellent support system. But she still has moments where I worry whether she has the strength to establish and maintain her identity in what can be a cruel world. (In the back of my mind: depression runs in my family.)

When she took up archery, I was pleased by her persistence. The sport forces participants to master both mental and physical discipline, on an individual basis. The atmosphere in the range — that range — is austere, quiet, contemplative. The instructor exercises complete control over the class while correcting form, without uttering a single stern word. Ever.

“Are you going to put up a 30.06 sign?” I asked, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

“No,” she replied. “If I don’t see it, I don’t know it’s there. And neither does anyone else.”

Reading between the lines, I could tell she didn’t have a problem with me carrying a defensive firearm. Whether that was because she approved of me or the principle of armed self-defense, I don’t know.

“How’d you do?” I asked my daughter, keeping the encounter with her instructor to myself.

“Lousy,” she replied, throwing her arrow-pierced heart-shaped paper onto the floor and switching on Hits 1 to blast away any lingering disappointment.

“You want to go twice next weekend?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “I still haven’t beaten my personal best.”

“What will you do after that?”

She looked at me as if I had pin lice in my eyebrows.

“Then I’ll try to beat that,” she answered, amazed at my stupidity.

A gun is the best defense against violent attack. But there are times when being disarmed is worth the risk. Right until it isn’t. I hope that moment never arrives. I hope my daughter isn’t with me if it does. Meanwhile, I plan for it as best I can.

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  1. Mothers are cool with their chitlin’s sticking high velocity mini spears into heart shaped targets but they get nervous seeing a doting dad with a gat?


    • Its even more odd when you consider the resurgence of interest in archery (particularly among girls) is almost entirely due to the popularity of the The Hunger Games series – that is to say, the story of a reluctant female protagonist leading an armed uprising against a totalitarian regime, an uprising in which untold thousands die in the early stages of the rebellion because of the sheer scale of the power differential between the common people and the government agents.

  2. Was talking to an open carrier and he owned up to packing exposed just to rattle the damn liberals. Then he went off half cocked about the government being tyrannical. Scary part is that we were all concerned that we just might witness a mass shooting.

    Open carry might be a right, but a right to open carry, not to intimidate and frighten. If you don’t have a brain to tell the difference, perhaps open carry isn’t for you. I hate it when I lose my rights because of others stupidity!

    • Hardest part of my belief system. Knowing that I want freedom for people and knowing that it will at some point be abused. But yes, raving jackwagons deserve to open carry. I would advise a high level of prudence to him but if we don’t have faith in our fellow man, then we might as well demand to have our dictator(s) delivered sooner than later.

      • I like to use this analogy to illustrate exactly that point. In a scenario where a higher authority demands that three individuals divest themselves of arms – a crazy person, a career criminal, and a law abiding citizen – the only one to do so would necessarily be the law abiding citizen, who is precisely the one individual of the three that could be trusted and require those arms the most. The authority exempts itself, of course – that IS gun-control.

    • Open carry might be a right, but a right to open carry, not to intimidate and frighten.

      So I have a question for you. Suppose a person is trying to open carry to annoy and someone is annoyed. Now suppose a person is trying not to annoy while open carrying and someone is annoyed. If they are both carrying the same firearm in the same manner what ultimately is the difference?

      Next question. If someone is offended (or intimidated or frightened) by you exercising your rights, does that mean you shouldn’t exercise them – and … Can you really control if they are offended/intimidated/frightened based on your intent?

      • Well said. It always bothers me when some people say that you need to open carry “responsibly”. Their definition of “responsibly ” is only open carry where no one us around that could see you and get frighten. I open carry this week for the first time (with the cold I end up going out with a jacket or sweater, so no open carry). But Monday was perfect weather. Went to Home Depot and then to Walmart. Not one person bolted out of the way or gave a second look. Not one person called 911 or screamed “he’s got a gun”. It was a total non-event. To be honest, I don’t think anyone really noticed, or if they did, they did not care.

    • You don’t have a right to safety, nor to feeling safe. If someone is put off by an open carrier, they have to deal with it in their own way.

    • “Open carry might be a right, but a right to open carry, not to intimidate and frighten. If you don’t have a brain to tell the difference, perhaps open carry isn’t for you.”

      Wait. You’re saying there’s another type of open carrier?!

  3. Not sure where you’re located but if things go south at that range I can recommend Archery Country in Austin. Used to work there and the staff is very pro 2A. I’m not sure who is teaching the lessons now but the instructor from my time there was excellent.

  4. I find it ironic that mothers that have no problems with their children wielding lethal weapons have a problem with a fellow parent carrying a purely defensive weapon.

  5. So let me see if I understand this…people got nervous seeing a firearm at an archery class for children? Honestly, in a room full of kids with bows and one guy with a holstered pistol, I’d be more afraid of taking an arrow in the knee.

  6. Interesting, my daughter loves to shoot her bow. Another reason to get outside with her so I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. She still won’t hunt with me as the “shooter” though.

    I don’t understand open carry in general every day life on several levels. To each his own but militant open carriers do not help our cause.

    • I don’t understand open carry in general every day life on several levels.

      There are several compelling reasons to carry a handgun openly visible in a holster:
      (1) You can more easily carry a full-size handgun which generally increases magazine capacity and operator accuracy.
      (2) You can draw faster and more reliably than from concealment.
      (3) Some criminals will see that you are armed and decide to not attack.
      (4) Some people will see that you are armed and begin thinking about the concept.
      (5) Some people will inquire opening the door to constructive conversation.
      (6) Open carry helps to normalize firearm ownership and carry in public.

      Do some people recoil in horror upon seeing that you have a handgun on your side? Sure. Will they commit themselves to civilian disarmament after seeing your handgun? Some will. Will you have a chance to politely educate people and win them over to our side? Absolutely. I have had people inquire about my armed status on multiple occasions. I am always polite, friendly, and happy to share knowledge with them. They universally appear to enjoy the encounter and casually go on about their business. How many of them go on to carry in public we will never know. Based on their exchange with me and their demeanor, I would say there is an excellent chance that I have started them on the road to responsible firearms ownership and carrying in public.

      Other people who carry openly visible handguns in holsters and who are friendly and ready to share knowledge report similar experiences.

      Note: it is helpful if you are well groomed and dress business casual (or better) … and even more helpful if you have children or a female spouse with you.

      • You missed one: a very good reason to open carry is because you don’t want to cooperate with the government registration scheme integral to concealed carry permits, and don’t want to have to be treated like a criminal to exercise an inherent right.

        BTW, the best conversation about going armed that I’ve ever had was when I was wearing cutoffs of about half-thigh length, with threads hanging off and a few holes, sandals, and a “planter’s hat”. Apparently the hippie look made some folks willing to approach me when they wouldn’t have otherwise.

    • “…To each his own but militant open carriers do not help our cause.”

      Is ‘our cause’ is so fragile that a muggle getting upset at the mere sight of an openly carried gun is enough to put our rights at risk? And are you sure about that? Because that, to me at least, sounds like ‘our cause’ is already lost if we have given them so much power that we cower from their opinions and personal fears.

      • “Because that, to me at least, sounds like ‘our cause’ is already lost if we have given them so much power that we cower from their opinions and personal fears.”

        Not really overly fond of this kind of terminology, but I think it fits: It’s pure beta-male horse snot.

  7. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal. It doesn’t make it smart. Sucking a ghost pepper is legal but not smart. If your not paying any more attention to your actions, and “the splash” you make when entering the pond of life, than that you might have other issues arise.

      • Don’t worry; every single OC related post brings out these anti-OC folks posting with unfamiliar usernames and they post one (or a couple) snarky posts under that name then never see that name again.

        Every. Single. OC. Article.

        I think the kids today would call ’em ‘trolls.’

  8. ““If I don’t see it, I don’t know it’s there. And neither does anyone else,” she added.”

    Why can’t they all be like that?


  9. “If I don’t see it I don’t really care” (paraphrased). Pretty much the same words my former boss told me. Carried concealed at that job almost every day since Wisconsin passed concealed carry. I always chuckled quietly to myself every time I heard someone spouting anti-gun rhetoric knowing that a firearm was so close to them, yet posed no threat. Sometimes, you just got to let people be themselves. Until it crosses a line and pushes you too far.

  10. While I can sympathize with a store owner who wants to appease their soccer mom type clientele I would still ask any business owner one question. “Why would you get involved in politics in the first place?” You are only going to alienate a sizable portion of your customers no matter which way you lean. Any business owner’s best course of action is simply to inform all their clients that they are not in the business of politics, they don’t want to offend ANY of their customers right or left, and if anyone doesn’t like that stance they should call their legislators since they made the law – not the business owner. It’s as simple as that.
    Of course we all know why so many businesses do what they do (this example possibly excluded) because they are politically motivated and want nothing to do with us or our guns.

    • Politically motivated? Or business motivated?

      Sounds like this was a simple case of: RF is one client, and the “other mothers” are more (let’s say, on a wild guess, three). So the business owner faces a choice: lose one customer, or lose three? She chooses to keep the three, and risk losing the one. That’s sound business strategy, completely ignoring politics.

      (and her politics are pretty well illustrated by telling RF to go ahead and carry concealed, she’s fine with that, she just doesn’t want to lose customers over open carry).

      • Not only that, if she wanted to, she could give RF express permission to concealed carry if she wanted to with a 30.06 sign up as well…

  11. Odd that if you cross Texas’s eastern border into LA with your eyes open you’ll see more than a few people OC’ing. 9 in 10 never even notice, of the ~10% that are paying attention, that majority couldn’t be bothered to care. It’s actually quite common, and becoming more so,

    Many I have talked with were like myself and just refuse to pay the taxes for their right to untuck their shirt to cover their pistol. The only reason I finally relented and drew a CCW was to avoid the NICS BS, fill out the silly form with my CCW as ID and walk away with my purchases, no more unwarranted ‘delay’s’. The only ‘permission’ to add to my collection comes from the Mrs, when I bother to ask it’s generally followed by can i shoot it and what else are you bringing me?

    It’s sad that Tx is still trying to figure out what gun rights are… I still own property in Tx, made the foolish assumption that Tx was gun friendly and bought the property, well because it was Texas… moved, then found out that the Lib’s have such a strangle hold on the state and are ruining things even in rural areas. Promptly moved across the state line where my rights were better protected….maybe I’ll move back to the lake property if Tx gets its deification consolidated.

  12. There will always be 2 sides to this. I carry on my waist outside my pants behind the second belt loop. A light jacket hides it IF you are not really looking. I know. I carried that way in a Mc Donalds with some friends there. None of them noticed it until I brought it up outside.
    We do not or SHOULD NOT open carry to antagonize but maybe a compromise is due at times.

    • Nobody can control – or is responsible for – how someone else feels, or how they respond to anything. That is the lie of the “politically correct” insanity now sweeping the country. Each individual is responsible for their own thoughts, actions and responses to other people. The polite, rational society recognizes this and deals with it. The irrational, gimme entitlement fools don’t. It’s pretty simple, actually.

      I carry to defend myself and, if necessary, others. I carry openly or concealed as seems right and good to ME, since I want to be polite and safe at the same time. My response to a situation is not the responsibility of other people either. If I’m on private property, of course, and they ask me to leave, I go away without protest. Fortunately, very few people here object to open carry in public anyway. And quite a few folks are openly approving.

      One size does not fit all.

  13. Ah bows & arrows-the original assault weapon. You taking her hunting yet RF? I’m clueless-only have (4) sons. 3 grandaughters far away I never see. I sure understand crazy ex-wife with (mine with drugs) a death wish…hang in there. I don’t have a clue about Texas open-carry. None here(IL) but a growing movement a mile away in INdiana. With very little push back.

    • I feel for you, being in IL and all. But with an Indiana handgun permit, there is no distinction between concealed or open carry. And the Indiana State Police website specifically says so, including a warning that open carry may alarm some.

      I am frequently reminded of this fact as a new resident, when guys tell me that it is a license to carry, and doesn’t say how you have to carry, lol.

      Edited to specify my state

  14. Pretty neat that your daughter is taking up archery. It is a very disciplined and focused sport. Personal opinion, if she does well, it will giver her a great deal of personal satisfaction and self worth. Important in these formative years.
    I archery hunted until about 10 years ago when I switched to rifle and handgun.
    I stIll practice with the bow for the zen like focus it requires. Kind of like extreme long range rifle shooting.

  15. What is the quiver capacity limit?
    You know, the 2nd amendment applies to all arms, bow and arrow included.
    Once guns are banned, knives are next, then bow and arrows and clubs not in any particular order.

    • I was in the ER in Rochester, NY being treated for a broken collarbone. My upstairs neighbor had just seen a karate movie, I wanna say late 60’s, early 70’s, I was in or going in to 5th or 6th grade. He said lemme throw you like I saw in the movie, so , stupid me, I stick my arm out and *snap*. While there another friend is trotted in by his parents. He has a Jart sticking out of his foot. How did we survive? 😉

  16. Is youth archery a big thing in your area. If you’re no tuned into the 4-9th grade set you may not be aware of the entire thing. I have one in it. Every Sat meet with 6-8 elem/middle school teams. 8am-5pm every hour a new flight of 48 +/-. With 50mi there have to be at least 30 teams of 40-100 kids from rural school. All this ballistic activity occurs in public and private school gyms (and also during school PE class). Amazing HUGH thing that didn’t exist 5years ago. If the NSSF could only organize something similar for marksmanship,

    Just wondered if it is rural thing, regional thing?

  17. RF – I feel for you in your efforts to raise a daughter by yourself. There’s never guarantees, but sure sounds like you’re doing the right things and getting the right results. Keep plugging away.

  18. The good thing is, theoretically, you’re in an archery range, so while you may be defenseless if you couldn’t carry a gun, all those kids aren’t and could protect you with their bow and arrows. Not likely, however, that they’d use them if a terrorist walked in, though.

  19. That particular archery range is one of the very best in Austin (JOAD) and has excellent coaches. The fact that shooting disciplines are part of The Olympics is a bitter irony. Would one be able to open carry a bow and arrow?

  20. Man i’m so tired of this OC CC debate.

    First off, if you’re OCing to make a point, nomalize guns, and help with our cause, i sincerely appreciate that. You got balls of steel that i do not.

    That said, let’s look at it from other not-so-2A-aware observers’ point of view.

    Were i a responsible cop, why would i NOT give you some attention, ranging from “a peek and thinking that’s a weird dude”, to “bust em, i dont give a F what is legal or not” and let you fight all the way to establish false arrest and reclaim your damages?

    Were i a thug, why would i NOT have the intent to steal/rob that gun that would fetch a price or be used in my next crime? I’m not saying the gun would be used against you cuz thugs are known to bring their own tools, like an icepick to the brain stem? This has nothing to do with situation awareness, and whether CC or OC doesnt make the carrier more or less aware. It’s just that no one is 100% aware and you never scan 360 and overhead with the gun at low ready constantly like in Iraq when you walk the streets. All it takes is just one lapse in attention and that slung rifle gives the thug one more reason to make use of that lapse.

    Were i a mass shooter who just got to the crime scene, why would i NOT shoot the open carrier first? Granted there could, or in where i live, will, be concealed carriers, why not take out that obvious threat first? Ever wondered why russian ICBMs do not aim at a Texan desert? Because nuking NYC gives more bang for the buck. Same when the shooter takes out the open carrier first before shooting that 80lb school girl.

    Some would say, well these have never happened before. We all know a lot of crimes do not see newspaper and back in 15th century people said the same thing about telephones LOL. It will happen to somebody someday. It could be never, or maybe me tomorrow.

    I’ll say that again, OCers thank you for helping with our cause. But DO NOT, make it sound like a prudent tactical advice that wouldnt put your fellow gun owners in any more danger if they do as you say.

    • There is at least as much fantasy in your statement as you believe there is in an open carriers mind. Therefore I put little value in what you just said. Except the part where you said thank you.
      You’re welcome.

      • If guesses are always pointless fantasies, or anything other than data written on a factsheet is uselessly unreliable, ever wondered how i made money to afford my guns and ammo as an equity trader?

        Btw bloomberg products are forbidden at my place so u rest assured.

        • Well,when I open carry, I emphasize “open” which means absolutely no one gets inside my 5 foot bubble. People tend to respect that without being told when they see a GLOCK 19 on my hip. People don’t try to bum cigarets or a light, which happens about every other trip to the gas station when I conceal. In the grocery checkout line, I get in front of my cart and pull it. Situational awareness is key whether OC or concealing.
          I’m not worried about being targetted. And I don’t see any evidence that that has become a problem. BTW, where I live 5-20% of the people open carry and I make about 10% more CC. I am pretty certain that I have been in establishments where 50% of the patrons were carrying in some mannor. It could be this way everywhere n this country.

        • Maybe you were somehow biologically better built than me. When i try to be as aware as possible without looking absurd (i scan the front 180 and overhead constantly just short of moving my head too fast, listen carefully into the surroundings and keep distance at blind corners), i still always get surprises. Yknow, like, “why didnt i see this guy until coming this close?” “Oops how long has this dude been behind me?” Maybe because i live in a crowded downtown for the weekdays? Nevermind, like i said i got nothing against OC. And i do recognize the deterrant factor when the thugs are not in a killing mood. Just stay safe and be ready to employ that weapon if someone determined and skilled is ever about to ruin your day for it. This comes from someone who makes predictions for a living to afford a steady diet of 45acp LOL.

      • What’s not to blame? Criminals dont care about gentlemen’s rules. We behave, they do not. Victims create vulnerabilities, criminals make use of them. If victims bear zero responsibility of their self preservation why do you even bother reading a gun blog and pay tax for the local PD? Sell all your guns and home security system, buy a fancy car and get gas at 3am. Dont worry, you’ll be safe, because your peaceful life shall not, and will not, be disturbed by others’ evil. All in all you’re just livin’ ya life, dindu nuffin.

        • That’s not what you argued and not what I responded to. Your argument, paraphrased:

          That cop harassed me BECAUSE I open carried.

          That crook stole my gun BECAUSE I open carried.

          It’s the same thing as saying if I didn’t own a car it wouldn’t get stolen.

          There are instances where, had the victim shed just a little bit of derp, they wouldn’t be a victim. But claiming that it’s all the victim’s fault just because they exist ignores the fact that crooks gonna crook.

  21. “What will you do after that?”

    She looked at me as if I had pin lice in my eyebrows.

    “Then I’ll try to beat that,” she answered, amazed at my stupidity.
    HA.. love her answer! And it’s indication that you’re doing right by your girl, your ex’s issues notwithstanding. Will she grow up with scars? Pssht… who doesn’t? But that one answer right there shows she’s doing alright. Thanks for sharing this with all us other dads!

  22. Does it count as irony if you are being told to conceal your arms in a place where they are teaching young people how to use arms?

    • How about all the gun stores that do not allow open carry?
      There is one guy at my range that won’t let me take my rifle from the shop area into the shooting range unless it is in a case. I have the bolt locked back and no magazine and have it slung on my back but he stops me every time and hands me a soft case just to walk 10 feet through the sally port. He says “Here, put that rifle in a case so you don’t freak out anybody”. IN A FREAKING GUN STORE? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I always comply, laughing at him the whole time though.

  23. I concur with the above comments about your candor, Sir. Love this piece. And love your daughter. She sounds like mine, though I have a bit to savor before the pre-teen years.

    I also think it’s funny that people are worried about guns in an archery range. People like to selectively forget the history of things when it suits them.

  24. “Yes,” she replied. “I still haven’t beaten my personal best.”
    “What will you do after that?”
    She looked at me as if I had pin lice in my eyebrows.
    “Then I’ll try to beat that,”

    Smart kid.

  25. All due respect, but if you are the type of person that open carries just to “ruffle some feathers” and then forgets you have a gun on your hip while open carrying in a teaching/learning environment with under age students and you are the type of person who thinks the adrenaline rush of a stranger making a move to get close to you is “quite a ride,” maybe golf would be more your speed.

    • I specifically stated that I am NOT carrying to upset anyone. I don’t think that a stranger approaching me in what I think is an aggressive manner is a good thing, at any time.


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