In the post titled The Tyranny of Superstition, down in the comments a point was brought up that I wanted to address, because it’s something that I see happen every now and then, but is generally the exception rather than the rule. Specifically, in this comment:
I live in Middle TN and the closest gun club is Middle TN Shooters and a few years ago when I showed up for one of their Sun shoots (nervous as all get out), no one approached me … no one introduced themselves. They saw me standing there and they continued their IDPA practicing and I finally left as I felt like a the odd man out…I would love to shoot IDPA, but who wants to try and break into the “gun club group” who walk around like peacocks and almost dare you to interrupt them.
Maybe I’m the exception, but I have always felt that as a newish shooter, you are considered an outsider until you can prove your acceptance into the group.
Being a young guy in the shooting sports, I have from time to time felt like the “odd man out” at some ranges and shops. That being said, I have found that the vast majority of the shooting community is very open and welcoming. It’s unfortunate that sometimes you run into clubs and ranges that have adopted a “members only” attitude; but I don’t think that those guys represent the majority of shooters inside the community.
It does happen though, and I think that it’s a legitimate issue that we should take steps to address, but the question how do we address it? A big step that many clubs take is to put “pro-growth” leadership in place – something that happened recently at my club, Atlanta Conservation. Apparently before I joined there were issues with “old guard” essentially stifling the growth of the club; so after a while the remaining membership said “enough is enough” and put new leadership in place.
On a personal level though, the biggest thing we can do to help the problem is be personally welcoming to new shooters. Honestly, you see a new guy at the IPSC match, introduce yourself – make him (or her!) feel welcome. If we all do our part, we really can grow our community.