Sebastian from Snowflakes in Hell has a post up from the NRA convention regarding the relatively advanced age of the majority of the attendees. I say relatively because while 50 may seem old to me, it’s certainly not over the hill/dead yet, and besides…my mom raised me to be kind to my elders.
Uncle’s got a post up that sort of agrees, and looks at the root of the problem being that generally younger 20-something college kids don’t have the disposable income for the hobby, which can be rather expensive. Now, I was thinking about doing a bit of “all linky no thinky” but I actually have 2 cents (or maybe even a nickel) worth of thoughts on this issue.
Uncle is young for a gun blogger at 35. I have not previously mentioned my age while blogging, but I’m going to now because it helps me make my point. Uncle has me beat by almost a decade in the age category (not to make him feel old). In the sense of youthfulness, I’m literally “the future” of the NRA and the RKBA movement. The reason that I’ve not discussed my age before is part of the same reason why I often worry about the prospects of the overall community of responsible gun owners.
I’ve not discussed my age because I honestly feared that my blog (and thusly my opinions) would be dismissed simply because “I’m not quite old enough.” I don’t particularly have an axe to grind, but I after shooting since I was 8 and competing at the national level when I was 18, I got tired of having my opinions dismissed because I look (and am) young. The problem is widespread, I’m sure everyone has had a run in with the Range Curmudgeon, that one guy who insists that everyone Must Shoot His Way, and is distrustful of anyone under the age of 40-50-whatever. I don’t like seeing anyone condescended to. When I stopped shooting competitively for the Coast Guard, I almost stopped the hobby altogether because of some of the people I encountered at various public ranges.
At the same time, there are so many good people in the shooting community that are interested and care about bringing younger shooters into the fold and instilling in them the love for the sport. It took a few people like that to get me to pick up my guns again after I stopped competing, and every time I meet a new person like that I want to shake his hand. Now that my personal course is set, I can pretty much ignore the Range Curmudgeons and enjoy my time – and also try to share my sport.
While worrying about dismissal due to my age may have been somewhat silly as the gun blogging community all seem to be decent folk, the 2nd reason for my concern regarding the future of our sport is my personal observation of a lack of young shooters in the communities. Shooting USA often profiles young up and comers in the shooting sports, and those spots always fill me with glee at the concept of another youngster added to the game. Then I go the range, and I don’t see anyone under the age of 35-40. I’m there every other week, and I very rarely see young adults such as myself shooting. I do see the occasional family (which is good), but I’d like to see more 23-29 young professional there enjoying a nice day and some hot brass.
Coupled with that is my concern about gun writers. While the writers for gun magazines often get a lot of shit from the internet (and some deservedly so), I also can’t really think of any gun writers that are in their late 20s, or even their early 30s. I mean for one of the major market publications, Guns & Ammo, American Handgunner, American Rifleman, etc. What is going to happen to the industry publications when the current generation of gun writers decide to retire? Where are the Elmer Keith’s and the Jeff Cooper’s of my generation?
That is why I worry. I know very few people my age that own guns, much less that shoot them regularly enough to call it a hobby. Someone in the comments on Sebastian’s thread mentioned that more people will migrate to the movement as they age…what if they don’t? More and more young men and women are being raised with no knowledge or interest in firearms whatsoever. 20, 30, 40, years down the road what happens when the number of shooters has dwindled to half, or a third of the current number? I worry that a generation raised by the nanny-state won’t care about the gradual erosion of the 2nd (and other) Amendments.
This is why I firmly and strongly believe that the best thing you can do for the future of our sport is to introduce people to it. Got a coworker that’s thinking about buying a gun for home protection? Take him/her shooting. Got a neighbor that asks what you do to relax on weekends? Take him/her shooting. Take your kids shooting. Take their friends shooting. I would love to see an article in Guns & Ammo in a few years written by some recent college graduate about how loves shooting and is dearly committed to promoting the sport. Then I’ll rest a little easier.