SHOOT­ING ETHICS

Wel­com­ing new­com­ers to our sport is an hon­our that we can all en­joy, the edi­tor says

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Put your­self in the shoes of a new­bie, sug­gests the edi­tor, and make them more than wel­come at your club

Of­ten, peo­ple want to join an air­gun club, but feel self- con­scious and in­tim­i­dated, wor­ry­ing that the ex­pe­ri­enced shoot­ers there will laugh at them. Wel­com­ing new shoot­ers to our great sport is a duty and an hon­our that we can all en­joy. Let me dis­cuss some of

“Tak­ing your first ten­ta­tive steps on a club’s grounds can be very wor­ry­ing”

the points that have come up in my long, club- shoot­ing ca­reer, in the hope that you’ll find them use­ful when you wel­come new­com­ers.

Tak­ing your first ten­ta­tive steps on a club’s grounds can be very wor­ry­ing, so be­ing met by a smil­ing face is what you want. I think it’s good to show peo­ple around the whole club and let them have time to re­lax. Next, ask them what kind of shoot­ing they want to en­joy; pis­tols or ri­fles, plink­ing or com­pe­ti­tion, in­doors or out, and dis­cuss whether or not your club can help with that. Of­ten peo­ple just want to shoot and will de­cide much later if they’ll spe­cialise in one area. Many peo­ple want to hunt, but that’s not some­thing a club can help with, but it is a good place to get their ri­fle set up cor­rectly and to learn proper tech­nique.

DON’T JUDGE

Some­times, peo­ple will have bought a gun al­ready, but please, please do not be judge­men­tal. With­out club­mates to of­fer guid­ance, peo­ple might have bought wholly un­suit­able guns for the kind of shoot­ing they’re hop­ing to do, but now is not the time to point it out, un­less there’s a rea­son that the gun can­not be used. For ex­am­ple, at my club we may not shoot steel BBs at all, and if your new­comer has bought such a gun, they need to know the rule im­me­di­ately.

Fur­ther, try not to be a snob. If you’ve

been in the sport for some time it’s likely that you’ll have up­graded along the way to some­thing very smart, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us started out with some­thing cheap and cheerful. I’ve heard some pretty un­kind com­ments about other peo­ple’s guns over the years and that’s quite wrong. It’s likely to make the owner feel bad, and that the club is un­wel­com­ing. No mat­ter how much you might dis­like a gun, it could well be the other per­son’s pride and joy.

OF­FER A SHOT OR TWO

Once the per­son has come along a few times, it’s likely that they’ll con­tinue and then can be good time to of­fer a few shots with your own gun. When look­ing to up­grade, it can be very use­ful to try out as many guns as you can be­fore part­ing with a good chunk of money. Clearly, you should stay close by to of­fer help and guid­ance on just how your par­tic­u­lar gun works. This also cre­ates a bond be­tween you and them and in­creases their feeling of be­com­ing part of some­thing.

New­com­ers will have loads of ques­tions and of­ten these will be on the most ba­sic points but re­mem­ber, we all asked these things when we were start­ing out in the sport. I al­ways say, ‘no ques­tion is silly; please ask me any­thing’. I’d much rather peo­ple learned cor­rectly from the be­gin­ning, than found out the hard way for them­selves. Of course, safe gun-han­dling and a proper un­der­stand­ing of the club’s rules will be top of the train­ing list, and ev­ery club has its own way of teach­ing these.

A good de­gree of pa­tience is needed in these sit­u­a­tions be­cause although it can all seem so ob­vi­ous to us, when you don’t know windage from el­e­va­tion, a springer from a pre- charged pneu­matic, or a gas-ram from a gate post, it can all seem over­whelm­ing.

LET THEM BE THEM­SELVES

It’s im­por­tant that we don’t ex­pect new­com­ers to want to be like us. Ev­ery­body has their own way of en­joy­ing shoot­ing and that’s just fine. I re­mem­ber all too well be­ing in a club that was full of su­per- se­ri­ous, field-tar­get com­peti­tors and I re­ceived end­less pres­sure to com­pete. I didn’t want to be­cause I’ve al­ways been a hunter, not a com­peti­tor, and got re­ally fed up with the con­stant ver­bal has­sle. We have many club­mates who like to come along and just en­joy shoot­ing and each other’s com­pany, and who don’t want or need com­pe­ti­tion.

Clubs are great places for any­one new to shoot­ing to learn and flour­ish in our sport. Be­ing one of the peo­ple who wel­comes them and guides them along the way can be hugely en­joy­able and many long- last­ing friend­ships have started this way. Take your time, be pa­tient, and most of all, re­mem­ber that you were a be­gin­ner once, whether that was last year or 60 years ago. Do that and you’ll be an as­set to the new­comer, your club and the whole sport of air­gun shoot­ing – and you can be extremely proud of that.

“safe gun han­dling and a proper un­der­stand­ing of the club’s rules will be top of the train­ing list”

Time spent on the range teaches you so much about tech­nique and con­trol

Hav­ing club­mates to ask ques­tions of is a great way to learn about shoot­ing

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