August is National Shooting Sports month!
Okay, so it doesn’t rate a special tree in the living room or lights in the window, but National Shooting Sports Month provides unique opportunities for writers to familiarize themselves with the weaponry their characters use.
Sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF, the same group that puts on the massive SHOT Show every year), the month-long celebration encourages shooters, gun stores and range owners to make special efforts to introduce more people to hunting and the shooting sports. Have questions? Walk in and ask some questions.
There will even be special events. On August 17, I will be giving a presentation on the weapons Jonathan Grave uses, at Elite Shooting Sports in Manassas, Virginia. The details are still in play, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to do any live fire exercises. That would have made the even really fun.
I’ve spilled a lot of digital ink here on TKZ over the years discussing gun stuff. Guns handling and gun play are nearly impossible to describe accurately unless you’ve done some shooting. There’s a feel to the grip and the recoil. There are weight and balance issues peculiar to different weapons. There’s a method to loading magazines. National Shooting Sports Month will provide perfect opportunities for you to get hands-on training.
A couple of years ago, my publicity team from Kensington traveled from New York to Virginia–and then on to West Virginia with me–as part of a publicity plan to shoot copies of Scorpion Strike, whose cover featured a number of bullet holes. These young ladies were as anti-gun as you’d expect from New York City. As we entered the range complex at Echo Valley Training Center, they mocked the shooters they saw and cowered at the sight of firearms being carried out in the open.
When I got them on the trigger, though, everything changed. After hundreds of rounds apiece, they were enthralled by the sport. By the end of the day, I had them advancing and shooting at steel targets. When their magazines ran dry, they dropped them and slapped in another.
In four hours at the range, their world view of shooting–and shooters–had changed. They’d learned new skills and had had a fun day outdoors in the fresh West Virginia air.
Marksmanship is about precision. Just like golf or tennis, your number one competitor is yourself, and experience combined with good instruction is the only way to advance your skills. Here’s a website that will direct you to a shooting range in your area. Even if you have no experience–especially if you have no experience–drop in and sign up for some beginner instruction.
If you’re afraid of the weaponry, embrace your fears. A firearm is just a tool and your instructor won’t let you pose a danger to yourself or others. Don’t worry about recoil. It’s never as violent as what you see on movies or television. (I know, right?) Just hang on to everything tightly and keep a balanced stance.
For your first outing, shoot with either a small caliber or a big gun. Preferably both. Physics lesson: The heavier the gun, the less the felt recoil, and the smaller the load, the less energy to trigger that equal and opposite reaction.
So . . . Who’s game?