Range Report: Purdue Rifle/Pistol Club Spring Callout


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The Wiry Irishman
January 19, 2008, 11:39 PM
I'm the captain of the Purdue University Pistol Team, which is a part of the university's student-run rifle and pistol club. This past week we had our callout for this semester, essentially a regular meeting that we advertise to get new members to come in. Typically our meetings consist of two 45ish minute strings of shooting separated by a target change, but callouts consist of a one-hour safety briefing and then a string of shooting. I thought this semester's callout was worthy of a mention here on THR because its by far the most positive callout we've had in my 4.5 years in the club.

First, are turnout was HUGE. I didn't get an exact count, but I'd put it at between sixty and eighty people, almost all of them new shooters. Not only that, but the number of women attending was greater than usual. Just like THR, the club is dominated by men, this past semester we had three active female members, which sadly is higher than normal. There were about a dozen women at the callout.

For the officers and regular members, callouts are usually one of the most nerve-wracking things we ever go through. We abstain from shooting so we can monitor the line, helping with malfunctions and questions, but most importantly, making sure we catch and correct any dangerous behavior before someone gets hurt. We've been around for about a hundred years without a firearm-related injury, we don't want to start now. Usually you can expect tons bad muzzle safety, especially on the pistol side of the line, or people shooting like they saw in videogames/movies, obstinate people that refuse to listen to instructions, or people not checking where they're hitting and putting rounds into the backboard.

This time not once did anyone get swept by an errant muzzle. Zero. That's really something because the range time was chaotic - we had more shooters than guns, so everyone had to share. The worst safety infractions anyone saw were a few trigger safety errors, and all they took to correct was a gentle "finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire." All the new people, even the ones that had never touched a gun before, were safety conscious and didn't dispute instruction. The biggest problem we had to deal with was clearing failures to extract.

Also surprising was the enthusiasm of the new people after practice was done. Its usually a little lackluster because some people just came to see what is was like, or because shooting ten rounds and trading the gun off to the next person isn't exactly boatloads of fun. The reactions I got from the new shooters on the line and down in the gun room when we were putting stuff away really blew me away. Here's a few:

A group of three girls came in together, none of them had ever used a gun before. One of them said something to the effect of "I've always been a little scared of guns but I wanted to come see what they were really like," which is a great start as far as I'm concerned. All of them enjoyed themselves immensely and were really dedicated to getting all their shots in the black. (We have new pistol shooters fire from the bench until they can put 10/10 in the black, then we let them stand) They said they'd be back next week.

We even had a British girl come, and apparently she's already hooked on rifle shooting and inquiring about competing. One of our recent alumni (and THR member) that comes to help out put it pretty well: "I'm proud to live in one of the last places in the world people can come and do things like this."

A new guy who had only ever shot a gun in video games (which is usually bad mojo as far as developing safe shooters is concerned) talked to the president and I after everyone else had left. Instead of spouting typical videogame misconceptions and pretending he was a firearms/special forces tactics expert, he expressed a profoundly genuine interest in learning about shooting. Best of all, he prefaced all of his aspirations with "I've got to learn how to be safe first but..." I think I've recruited him to start practicing with the pistol team. It really helps when you can tell someone "I was a crap shot when I first started and now I can shoot holes in quarters." That's all I'm really interested in for potential competitors. I don't care if they can shoot, as long as they're willing to show up and practice every week they've got a place.

There were a bunch more great reactions, but this post is starting to get long. Suffice it to say, maybe three quarters of the people that showed up had a good time and wanted to come back. It looks like we'll have a great semester, and a bunch more pro-RKBA people in training. A lot of the new people that come to club have a "I don't see anything wrong with a handgun/assault weapon ban" type attitude. I've found that if you just leave them alone, don't debate or argue with them, just let them shoot, that eventually they'll fall in love with shooting and want their own gun. Then you tell them they can't buy one because they're not 21 or they're out-of-state residents, or any of the other myriad barriers and its like a switch flips in their mind. Once they realize one gun law is pointless and unfair, they start rethinking others. It works every time and it only takes a semester, a year tops. I know I'm indirectly responsible for at least 2 or 3 Illinois residents owning a handgun.;)

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