There is a saying we use at my 9-5 job, and that is “Every Disaster is a Local Disaster First”, the same thought process can be applied to gun control. The majority of anti gun legislation wether it be bans on particular types of firearms or high-capacity magazines is based at a local level. When I use the term “local” I mean at a municipal or state level, which is the area where a small voice can make a much larger impact on events. Following a conversation I had with fellow gun owners at work I began to think to myself, “Why should people join a local gun club anyway ?” The answers I got from people I asked varied greatly.
Accepting Reality & Finding a Club That’s Right for You
The first hurdle is to admit that many voices are much stronger than a single voice, this has been proven throughout time, it doesn’t matter the cause, more people equals more results. I’ve found that since the Presidential Election this past fall that many people think that ridiculous and oppressive gun control has stopped, this is far from the truth. Any defeat of the anti gun collective at the polls just means those people regroup and scour their collective brain trusts to find ways to make gun control more politically correct. The current trend is to try to use terms like “sensible regulations” and try to toss gun control in with “public health” concerns.
When it comes to gun clubs of any sort you have to accept that for transparency and legal reasons such as Internal Revenue Agency rules, most gun clubs operate under what is commonly known as the 501C3 section of the IRS Code. This means a board of directors, meeting minutes, treasury notices and a host of other rather boring regulations that lets members and the government know who is in charge of the money and assets of the club. I know many people who won’t join a club because of politics and not wanting to go to meetings. It’s fine to hate the bureaucracy that goes with government but just remember that many voices have more power than a single one. When you call or write a legislator and tell them that you and the hundreds of voting members of your gun club feel a certain way about legislation, that caries more weight than being Joe Bang of Doughnuts from Pigsknuckle Arkansas.
Step One: Find a club that fits your needs
This isn’t overly complicated, first see if there is a gun club in your area that suits your needs or shooting style. There are clubs that specialize in Cowboy Action Shooting, Long Range Precision Shooting, Sporting Clays, and roughly a dozen other shooting sub classes. If you want a one size fits all style of club there are many that cross over. In my experience many clubs labeled “Rifle Clubs” are in fact a general style of gun club that accepts all forms of shooters. There are select groups such as International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) affiliated clubs that focus on training and competition centered on handguns, and regularly offer new shooters courses to attract new members. It’s a core function of most organizations, to bring in new members and they often have designated recruiting officers.
There are a few sources that I would recommend someone check into if they are wanting to find a local club. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has an excellent source of information located at www.wheretoshoot.org . The second site I would recommend is www.shooting.org, it features an easy to navigate map of the United States on their home page. All you need to do click the appropriate state, then select the local area and a list pops up. This page is under construction often but does allow users to provide feedback about the club or range. One often overlooked source is social media such as Facebook, many clubs and ranges have embraced social media and are active on it. In my local area now that it is summer the local range posts information and video about upcoming matches and results. A final spot I would recommend for information is at the range itself. Many ranges have club houses or meeting areas that have a good old fashioned cork bulletin board in them that are usually packed full of handouts and flyers.
Step Two: Be Active, Know Your Leadership
Once you have researched a shooting club or range and have made contact, ask the leadership some questions. Some of the questions I would ask are : What is their stance on various types of guns and shooters, How do they conduct their meetings?, How do they reprimand members for unsafe acts at events?, How many specialty events do they hold a year (Kids Day, Ladies Only Shoots etc.) The way I look at a club is what can it do for me ? How can it enhance my shooting sessions, or my involvement in the shooting community. If you join a club or a range, it’s YOUR Range or Club also, you should have a vested interest in the way it’s organized, kept and operated. Maybe I’m old fashioned but If I’m paying membership dues or range fees, I want to maximize my return.
The final step you can do once you have screened, selected, and joined a range or gun club is GO SHOOTING. It’s amazing that people will join a club or range and not know a single person there or even darken the doorsteps of the place or group you are paying to be part of. One of the best things about shooting clubs or ranges is that once you get to know people and they learn what you like to shoot, they may know people who are unloading collections of guns you happen to like. More than once I have mentioned to someone that I liked a particular gun and sooner or later the rule of “I know a guy, who knows a guy” kicks in and I’m shooting the gun I was talking about. I’ve scored some of my best used gun purchases this way.
One extra thing I’ve noticed is that in a gun club you can end up testing out guns you thought about buying that other members may have purchased. Some of these people are an invaluable source of knowledge on why a particular gun was great or a real let down. True story time that relates directly to the site. ALL of the machine guns I have written about and videoed on the site are owned by James Foley who happens to be the owner of Arctic Arms in Chugiak Alaska. I met James and became friends with him through our club, the Alaska Machine Gun Association. The AMGA who welcomes all legal and safe shooters to join its’s ranks not just owners of machine guns and other National Firearms Act weapons. It’s a perfect example of a club that covers much more than its name implies.
Summer is here, get out, get shooting and be sure to be a safe and responsible member of the shooting community. We have reposted a few links for you to make getting involved a little easier.
Featured Image Courtesy: James Foley of Arctic Arms, Chugiak Alaska