LIFE LESSONS GAINED BY HUNTERS AND SHOOTERS
There was a recent Facebook post that I saw with the story of a young mother whose husband stopped the car on their neighborhood street and got out, telling her to go home and put away the groceries they’d just bought, and then come back for him. She was confused, said yes, and as she pulled away, realized what he was doing – helping an elderly man who was out mowing his lawn. The number of shares and comments highlighted how out of place it’s become for young people to help the elderly and for people to just be decent to each other. To put themselves aside and think of others.
Shooting and hunting don’t always fall into helping our neighbors with chores, but they can be ways we help others.
Filling Someone Else’s Shoes
When we take our grandparents or grandchildren hunting or shooting, we are giving of ourselves; our time and our companionship. Sometimes for an elderly person who’s alone, a chance to hunt is a big opportunity. For a wounded vet who has a chance to get out with like-minded sportsmen, it’s therapeutic. I have a friend who knows local injured vets and takes them hunting on his land…a vet himself, and heart of gold. He empathizes with others. And sometimes, just putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is as simple as thinking of something we enjoy, and taking another person with us to do that enjoyable thing for a day.
Sure, we can volunteer at our local range to helping with matches, help new shooters, help run deer hunting sight-in, or work on range clean-up…but we can also go out of our way to help others when we are on the range. In most competitions, there’s work. From resetting targets to running score sheets to serving food – competitions offer opportunities to help others. Young shooters who have the energy to run down and reset steel targets are always welcomed by the older guys with bad knees or sore backs. Parents who do not compete, but help run trap leagues or organize scores are valued. And kids who see their parents involved learn valuable life-lessons about helping others and are more likely to pitch in themselves. “Lead by example” is a phrase for a reason! It’s pretty easy for a kid to know how to behave by simply watching how others behave.
Putting Others First
One example of being helpful to others that stands out in my mind is my friend Bruce Piatt at Bianchi Cup this year. Bianchi Cup is a national match – there’s money to win, records to set – it’s a serious match! Most competitors spend the better part of the week on the practice range. Everyone is very driven and has a goal. Bruce spent a good part of his practice days on the range helping others – from repairing guns that went down to helping someone rearrange something on their pistol that his experience gave insight on, Bruce was helping others. There are not many sports where the top competitors will sit on the sidelines while others are warming up and help them with their gear or refine their technique, but shooting is full of examples like Bruce. That sort of example and those values he’s passing on to others are part of what makes shooting a great sport!
Shooters are not just growing their own ranks when they share their enthusiasm and help others, they are also growing our appreciation and understanding of the 2nd Amendment. When we share what we do with firearms, whether that is shooting competitions or hunting with our grandparents, we’re growing the bonds that tie Americans together. We’re growing a love for freedom in the outdoors and time spent with people who mean something to us – and mean something to others. Valuing others is a mindset that firearms teaches in concrete ways; through the safety required to handle firearms around other human beings, through the ways we interact with others while using firearms we are afforded opportunities to be decent people. Raising decent people is a goal that seems pretty simple, and competing and hunting with firearms give opportunities to meet that goal in spades!
Becky Yackley primarily competes in 3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi pistol, but has competed in shooting since 1989 in disciplines from service-rifle, to NCAA Air Rifle & Smallbore, air pistol, and a little bit of long range rifle.