Rookie Evolution & the Buddy System

I don’t really have mastery of the gun hobbyist vocabulary yet so I listen more than I talk.

I walked into the local Cabela’s a few months back and stood near the gun counter for a while watching and listening. I soaked up a full load of new info and decided I’d take a break to mull over some concepts and ideas, so I strolled up to the deli for a snack. A while later I had all my questions lined up and went back to the gun counter to select a victim. After about 4 questions he got tired of me and passed me off to a coworker with a higher level of newbie skills.

All in all not a bad day. I got 2 cards and some contact info for basic handgun classes, concealed carry instructors & local ranges; some good poop on eye/ear safety (you may shoot different stuff over time, but you’ll always need eye and ear protection, so quality gear is a good investment); and the standard allotment of personal preference advice about caliber and ammo.

Being new to the shooter scene is a lot like being in a foreign country. It’s hard to put your questions into a form people can understand when you don’t have a good working vocabulary of the local lingo. It slows my learning curve that I’m not good with nomenclature; if someone says “I just bought a glock 29”, I hear “I just bought a handgun”. So a good bit of the info shooters send my way goes right over my head. But I’m learning. Having lotsa free time to do research helps.

Now several months later; I’ve been to a couple local gun shows, visited online with a couple gun-bloggers, chatted up some of the guys behind the counter at the local ranges and gun shops and managed to spend some $$. But as I’m still not part of the ‘in crowd’ or a bona fide regular customer, I still get that ‘new kid’ feeling when I walk into a serious firearm environment.

During my Army years I bounced around a lot and usually there was someone assigned to meet the newbie at the airport and show him the ropes. The buddy system works; adjusting to the new place is waaaay easier with a buddy. I didn’t realize how much of a difference it makes until I showed up at a new duty station and there was no assigned buddy. Lucky for me it was west Texas and the first guy I ran into was bored and a vet. Needless to say, when it was my turn to be the assigned buddy, I took the duty seriously.

In the interest of fighting firearm ignorance, and easing first timers into the environment while minimizing the social stress, I thought about the old army buddy system. Wouldn’t it be easier if you had a buddy to show you the ropes; range rules, driving directions, how to avoid range rush-hour, someone to introduce you and keep you from making too many of those embarrassing rookie mistakes?

During my web-wanderings I’ve run across a few bloggers who have open invites for first timers to come out and shoot. Some offering to supply everything; targets, ammo, a variety of firearms, etc.

idea: lets make a list and get all the info in one place.


I started with the handful of volunteer bloggers and an outdated link list I found where someone had already started the same project. I sent out a few emails and the replies started coming back. I added a MENTOR section to my sidebar and replied with vague promises of future creativity and sophistication for the upcoming versions.

I was hoping for a dozen; so far I have more than half that and it’s only been a couple weeks. If I can keep up with it we might have something. I suspect a great number of the anti-gunners are motivated by fear of the unknown. If we can educate them 1 at a time by making sure their initial experience is fun and informative and SAFE; we stand a chance.

I’ve seen people get turned off by bad initial experiences with dogs, motorcycles, sushi, and half a dozen other things. I hope we can make your first range visit a good one.


Posted on August 28, 2008, in firearms. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. P.S. the hair’s not shorter, just some pictures it gets bunched up under the shooting shirt collar.

    Thanks for the comments. . . B.

  2. You might want to try contacting the people on this list. I’m pretty sure it’s still accurate.

  3. i’m working my way through that one, so far i’m about a quarter of the way through. i get about 1 reply out of 5.

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