Of the 15 students in my sociology of guns class, only a few have extensive experience with firearms. Most of the students have some, but not much, experience, and two have never shot a gun before.
I thought it was important, therefore, to begin the class with some basic information about and exposure to firearms. If you want to study guns, you should at least have some idea of what they are, how they work, and what it is like to handle them. I was able to do this thanks to the good people at the Veterans Range in Mocksville, NC.
Our field trip last weekend began in the classroom at the range, with an introductory overview of firearms types, operations, and safety, presented by Shawn Moore and Ricky Allen.
Of course, the high point of our field trip was the range time. Of the 15 students in my class, 12 stayed for the optional shooting. I told the students in advance that the range was not going to be an exciting and dynamic event – not like a shooting gallery at the county fair. It would be slow and methodical and above all, SAFE. After all, guns are lethal weapons.
Beginning with .22LR pistols at 10 yards, we shot from two stations – falling plates on the left, and paper on the right. The two students who had never shot before were very nervous – appropriately so – but Shawn and Ricky patiently guided them through the process.
One student, wearing a “Christian Peacemaker Teams” hat, asked if there were non-humanoid paper targets to shoot, so we found a target with colored shapes on it instead. No problem.
We moved up to 9mm pistols, again from two stations on paper targets, and then to an AR-15 and a suppressed IWI Tavor bullpup rifle. These last two firearms were the clear highlight of the range visit for the students. We finished with a pump action shotgun.
Overall, the students reported having a good time shooting and really appreciated the care Shawn and Ricky took to make them all feel safe on the range.
I said as we were wrapping up at the range that as an instructor I made a mistake scheduling the range time first. Nothing that happens in the next 14 weeks of class will be as memorable.