The total number of folks I introduced to shooting is not great, the average number has only been around 2 – 3 people a year and the majority of them has been since maybe 1990. Some years had more than others did. None of the new shooters was via the internet. Via another blog, I once offered to take a guy from England who expressed an interest in shooting revolvers but his travel plans to Chicago changed.
Usually the new shooters were friends of a friend of a friend. Some were co-workers. Most were very nice people although a couple of them were pains. For my own safety, I would always arrange to meet strangers at a range at a given time; never were they invited to meet at my house. Only a couple of folks made me uncomfortable by insisting that I invite them over to the house; “Hey man, I really want to see all your stuff!” I was frank in explaining that it is unwise for me to invite complete strangers over to case my residence. Over the years, a few of the appointments were no-shows; this was somewhat frustrating for me. NONE of the new shooters expressed any positive reaction to my sales pitch regarding the merits of joining the Illinois State Rifle Association or the NRA. Most of the new shooters admitted to having never registered to vote, usually citing a fear of jury duty. There were self-defense questions that I was unqualified or unwilling to answer; “Can’t I just shoot the bad-guy in the knee? Can you show me how to shoot the gun out of the bad-guy’s hand?” There were a few awkward range-site cancellations; some folks showed up without first obtaining their Illinois FOID card, something that I had advised as being requisite. I don’t approve of the Illinois FOID law but the way that I read it, I cannot legally hand a firearm to anyone unless he or she has a FOID card or a valid out of state driver’s license. On one occasion a FOIDless prospective new shooter was acting so weird that I thought he was setting me up for some sort of police sting operation; not only did he insist that I let him shoot without having a FOID, he made persistent (unsolicited) offers to buy guns and ammo from me. I held firm and told him there was nothing I could do for him until he had his FOID; he never called back.
A person I had at the range recently was all thumbs and did not follow instructions (perhaps I wasn’t clear enough or he misunderstood). He put a negligent .22 round (down range) into the floor about 5-feet in front of him. That rattled my nerves. It is possible that I would have been found responsible if this person had hurt himself or others.
It is my belief that all but one of my new shooters had fun and went home with a positive outlook on guns. However, my naive good intentions possibly were putting me at risk. To my knowledge, the sessions did not generate any new voters or NRA members. It is time for me to call it quits. I’ll still go to the range with experienced shooters wishing to try one or more of my guns but will refer all new shooters to certified instructors.