Training our Youts
“This is more than a rifle son… this is a part of you.”
This admonition was common in our early days as a country as fathers imparted on their sons the need to not only be familiar with firearms, but also to have a mastery of them.
In the middle of the 19th century this need to become a master of skill at arms began to extend to women as well. Anne Oakley, of Buffalo Bill fame… admonished all women to become as good a shooters as their male counter parts, (at least as good as their male counter parts thought they were). Juliette Lowe, the founder of the Girl Scouts felt the same way about girls having not only access for firearms, but becoming just as skilled in their use as their male counterparts.
Our national heroes… Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Audie Murphy, Chris Kyle, have all been shooters. Their heroic status was not because of the gun… that would suggest that Michael Angelo would not have been the sculptor or painter he was without the brush or hammer. The tool is an ancillary device… the hero is the hero because of what he is and what he choses to do. The fact that these American heroes used firearms as part of their pathway to greatness sets the gun up really as nothing more than a totem.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter continue reading here:)
Let’s compare this to another totem: the car.
My dad taught me how to drive a car.
I taught my daughter how to drive a car.
My daughters will ultimately teach their children how to drive a car.
A car is a symbol.
Independence, responsibility, maturity, freedom… these are the positive connotations associated with operating a motor vehicle.
Rage, mayhem, violence, aggression… left unchecked or without the guidance of a parent or mentor, the independence that comes with operating a vehicle can devolve into a grotesque tragedy of narcissism.
My younger daughter lamented to me the other day at breakfast about some of her fellow students. She has watched them play paintball, or shooting video games at the arcade. Without fail, these young students (mostly male, but that is not particularly relevant here) have little or no knowledge of the proper use of the firearm.
Fingers on the trigger when they shouldn’t be, guns awkwardly extended from the body in some odd prepubescent offensive spectacle of non-athletic abilities, or the spray and pray fire method of mowing down all possible threats that present themselves without regard to the consequences of ill aimed rounds.
To someone trained, this display of amateurism is both disgusting and on a larger societal level alarming. Our youth, for countless generations were counseled on the proper use of firearms, and as a result a respect… and yes… a professionalism, developed for even the youngest of shooters.
A young man from 1860 given a vision of a similarly aged young man in 2015 playing a video game with a plastic handgun would be shocked at just how much of a neophyte his counterpart is.
A young person entrusted with a tool that is capable of taking a life should be awed by the responsibility. The key word here thought is “entrusted”.
They did not come by this firearm accidentally, or with little training. The gun was not haphazardly given as a Christmas gift with no context or support for its use.
No… the gun was entrusted to the child from an elder who had schooled them repeatedly in the proper use, care, and skill that is necessary in its ownership.
Only after repeated trips to the range, or afield… as their child’s mental and physical attributes matured was the rite of passage done… the child was given their first firearm.
When Sandy and I first sat down to develop a “tag line” for Artemis we listed things we thought were important, not only to us… but to a body politic that has the recognized right to arm itself. We acknowledged that each of us has a right to bear arms…. but we also realized that we had a responsibility to train.
When it comes to our children we have a responsibility to guide them into mature responsible citizens as well.