Learning Gun Safety and #GunSense with the National Rifle Association

Yesterday I spent the day with my wife and Tim Gordon, an NRA Training Counselor who owns Cornered Hill Firearms Training in Hudson, North Carolina.Last summer, my wife and I took Tim’s NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course and we enjoyed it so much we were excited to take another course with him.

So, we made the 90 minute drive from home because Tim was good enough to accommodate our busy schedules and hold an NRA Basic Range Safety Officer course just for the two of us on a (very chilly) Sunday.

Hudson, North Carolina. Photo by David Yamane

I have wanted to get an RSO certification for some time because I frequently find myself with new shooters at the range. These may be friends of mine for whom I am the only “gun guy” they know, or friends of my kids (like the Argentinian exchange student we took shooting), or students in my Sociology of Guns class during our field trip to the range.

I also thought the course would give me a wider perspective on shooting safety, beginning with knowing what to look for and what questions to ask of shooters, equipment, and facilities.

With those goals in mind, I came away from the course very satisfied. It raised a good number of big picture issues about range safety centered on “Standard Operating Procedures,” and also included a lot of detailed coverage of running a line, addressing stoppages and malfunctions, and handling medical situations (beyond people shooting themselves or others).

The test required some thought, and even included some (alas, outdated) humor – see Question 49 below.

NRA Range Safety Officer certification exam

This class, like my Basics of Pistol Shooting course before that, brought me back to the reality that the NRA is so much more than a political lobbying organization. It really is the country’s first and foremost gun safety organization.

While groups like Handgun Control Inc. — memo to NRA Training Department: the organization was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in 2001 — and Everytown for Gun Safety promote safety FROM guns, the NRA promotes the safe and responsible USE of guns. Even those who do not want to shoot or have no interest in owning guns would benefit from taking a gun safety class from the NRA, and having their kids take a class, too.

Think what you want about the National Rifle Association’s political activities — I personally don’t care for its Trumpism, hyperbolic videos with Dana Loesch,  or support for Roy Moore in Alabama — the educational side of the organization isn’t an 800 pound political gorilla. It is thousands of spider monkeys living quite happily and promoting gun safety in communities in every part of these United States, like the small town of Hudson where my wife and I spent the day yesterday.



      • Good line!
        I may add they’re not merely for abstinence but for mandatory chastity belts. (Their own Pvt security not included, of course)

        Loved the spider monkey line, too, David.

        Liked by 1 person

      • As far as I know, I thought it up independently, though I doubt it’s novel. Got the idea when thinking about how elementary schools (up here anyway) used to teach “Mr. Yuck” for poison safety and offered basic Red Cross swimming as those were risks that were always going to be present, and thus foreseeable, and so we should (at least offer to) educate kids in basic safety.

        That led me to thinking about how many people don’t see the parallel to another “risk area” that we can disapprove of but can’t pretend away, sex ed. We accept that kids may be exposed to it and thus the safest route is to offer them the basic facts in an apolitical, age-appropriate way, not just say “don’t do it” as some kind of mantra.

        I find it ironic that most Moms Demand types would deride “abstinence only” for sex ed but, while “accepting” that guns are a part of American life, believe schools shouldn’t offer classes like Eddie Eagle for the little ones and at least the 4 or 10 rules for the slightly older.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. An author friend was just on the Gun Funny podcast discussing why he chose to write a gun safety book geared toward kids. The antiquated pamphlets of the NRA still in circulation are windows into flared collars and early 80s facial hair styles.
    Your ‘question 49’ observation bears out the need to update their external communications!

    By way of a plug and to tie up the story, Yehuda said that there is a dearth of kid-friendly material out there and even the (great) NRA Eddie Eagle program’s presentation style is dated ( though not the content)…so he wrote ‘Safety On.’

    Get with it, ya John Denver-lookin’ spider monkeys!

    Congrats and kudos for doing the RSO course for such admirable reasons~~

    Liked by 1 person

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