Weapons Craft by Keeping Quiet.
I grew up in a non-shooting family.
Actually to be truthful it was probably worse than that.
As a young jewish kid growing up in 1970‘s and 80‘s suburbia the thought of having guns in the home was the equivalent to having a couple of rocket launchers and claymore mines lying around in the kitchen.
A memory I chuckle about now, happened when I was about nine years old.
We had gone to Knotts Berry Farm and I happened to find a Lone Ranger Six Shooter cap gun and holster set screaming my name in one of the gift shops.
I mean come on! Who would not want that?!?
My mom laid down the law… “we are not having THAT in our house”.
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So… my weapons training was going to have to come later on in life.
Years later, as I started to forge my path in the world of firearms I knew that I needed both raw knowledge as well as practical experience.
Those of you who have been around guns for a while will understand, obtaining the raw knowledge component would prove to be exceptionally easy: gun people love to tell you what you need to know…
whether they know what they are talking about is usually irrelevant to their confidence in their knowledge.
As a younger student of the “way of the gun” I consciously made a decision to approach all that I met with a high degree of humility.
This proved to be a massive benefit in more ways than I could have imagined.
I already knew a fair bit about firearms from books and my time outside the home through a joint effort between the Boy Scouts and the NRA.
However some of the more arcane concepts, nomenclature, and certainly tactics remained elusive.
When I bought my first rifle at a California Walmart (yes… Walmart still sold guns to Californians at the time) I started rutting around the ammo section looking for .270 ammo to shoot through my rifle after it was released from its 10 day state enforced jail sentence.
I was shocked at how much it was going to cost to buy a box of 20 rounds!
(Now, in fairness, the only ammo available at the time were higher end hunting rounds and match grade ammo that doesn’t come cheap under the best of circumstances).
An older gentleman was shopping alongside me and asked me what I was shooting.
I told him I was just getting into shooting and the cost of ammo was probably going to force me out of the sport before I had a chance to really get into it.
I did not try to hide the fact that I was new to this game… I let him know up front that I was a novice.
He was immediately a wealth of info. He started giving me dicta on aspects of shooting that I could not possibly have understood… but it made him sound like an expert.
Maybe he was… I’ve forgotten what he told me. He did however give me a little gem:
He told me about a local reloader and gave me his phone number and address.
I showed up at a store… well “store” maybe a little too nice of a description to describe the dilapidated shack this guy was operating out of.
“What do you want?”
He grunted as I walked through the screen door and saw a troll of a man working a reloading press, wearing cammo fatigues and sporting a 1911 on his hip.
“Ummm… I want to buy some ammo for my rifle I’m getting at Walmart, and your name was given to me as a source.”
“What type you need?”
Now I knew I wanted 130 grain cheap ammo for zeroing my rifle and target practice. But rather than disclose this, I chose a different tact:
“Actually I’m not sure…. I used to shoot .22 rifles with the boy scouts long ago but I’m just in the process of getting into centerfire rifle shooting. Frankly I’m not even sure where to begin or where even to shoot. Can you help me?”
The flood gates of info broke open.
The fact that I was not challenging him. Not questioning his knowledge, skills as a reloader, or walking in with a bravado of “yeah pal… I know it all… just give me what I want and I’ll be on my way” paid off in spades.
Over the next few months I found a mentor to help me with my shooting. A source for shooting information… sometimes more information than I really wanted… and access to “insider” deals I never would have had if I been more arrogant when I first met him.
This approach has served me well throughout my shooting career.
There is a Hegelian process of philosophical advancement that applies to shooting: Thesis – Antithesis – Synthesis.
We have way of doing things… we are exposed to a challenge to that process and we either discard our original protocol in favor of the new one… blend the two together… or discard the new one altogether, with a greater appreciation and understanding of the superiority of our original.
The thing is… we need to be open to the “Anthesis” in the first place… and ego and bravado can forestall the exposure to competing theories. The only way for us to grow… to fully travel the path of the “way of the gun” ,(or really any path for that matter)…is to remove ego as a barrier to growth.