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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.

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  1. There’s a few things boys need to be tought as they grow into men.

    Speak, walk, swim, read, throw a football, shoot, drive a manual. After that the small stuff like changing tires and fix leaky toilets, etc. Other things will come by themselves.

    I struggle a bit with what age is a good age to go to the range for the first time.

  2. I discovered recently that I can no longer change a tire! A few months ago my wife had a flat and of course called me to help. I arrived and after 15 minutes of effort (and a lot of swearing) I gave up and we called for roadside assistance. Apparently newer cars have a “locking lug nuts” which require a special tool to release. We didn’t have the tool. Neither did the assistance people. We had to have the car towed to the dealer who was happy to change the tire (It only required a small 2nd mortgage) and explain that the tool was hidden in a separate area of the trunk.

    • Not trying to be a dick…
      but did you read the manual? Lol.. I know we are men, ” we dohn need no steenkin manuals”
      especially to do something as mundane as changing a tire… but…
      yeah. Not anymore. Betcha you can’t find the jack and wrench in a 2010 to 2015 F150 supercrew cab truck if you dont look it up in the manual. Cause I couldnt… but I opened that damned manual, indexed flat tire… and hey… whudya know, they tell you where they hid the damned thing (FYI, its in a cubby under the back seat, behind a hidden panel, that looks like (is) a storage tray. Bugger was hidden in there like it was a brick of maui wowwie) yeah… I know, it felt like I should have to turn in my man card for opening that manual. But it saved me a tow.

  3. I might add to the list: Know how to listen to a woman and engage in conversation at the depth she demands. Know how to feed, change, and dress a baby. Know how to tune in to a child. Know how to keep your word. And on and on.

  4. These measures are all great for somebody new to firearms.
    I would even include: Know how to identify different types of firearms. Such as a rifle vs a shotgun or a single action pistol vs a double action pistol.

  5. Ha. I fixed a running toilet with nothing more than a 20oz soda bottle and a knife. Works great now.

    MacGyver ain’t got nothing on me.

    • If you can’t fix it with duct tape, silicon rubber, Lquid Nails, super glue, or a glue gun, it either didn’t need fixing, or needs replacing.

      I rate repairs on how many trips I have to make to Home Depot:

      1 trip: Extra points!
      2 trips: Not bad. Par for the course.
      3 trips: Arrrgh.
      4 trips and more: Welcome to the 5th ring of Hell. Your table awaits.

  6. Identifying types of firearms -good point! I’d like to say that was assumed in point 2,but I honestly didn’t think about it.

    As for the right age, there’s various 22 rimfire cricket models appropriate for kids as young as 5. With very close supervision! I’d probably say 6 or 7 based on my experience.

  7. There is no set age. Some kids are ready at 5 or 6, others are NOT READY at 15 or 16!

    Also depends on the age and skill of the adult. Best to have the parent go along for normal control but use a third party for the firearms, even if the adult parent knows as much or more than the “instructor”. It just works out better, no baggage, emotional, argumentative or attitude, comes into it with the third party.


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