Making Shooters the “Norm”

I have a habit that I know sometimes annoys Sebastian. I talk about the Second Amendment and shooting, preferably in places where it is unexpected and might even shake a few people out of their comfort zones. However, as he has learned by now, I’m very good about putting it into a context that people can understand so that they aren’t venturing so far out of their comfort zones that they want to run in the other direction. (That’s what we call counter-productive, not “cool” or something to take pride in.)

Our first adventure on Hawai’i was the Mauna Kea Summit & Stars tour (worth every penny). Since we would be on a bus & exploring the top of a mountain together for 8 hours, our tour guide asked us to introduce ourselves (the tours are small) and tell everyone else where we were from and one passion or hobby. Aha – my bright idea bulb goes off. (Poor Sebastian was too busy taking landscape photos to see the look that would have warned him what was to come.)

Aside from meeting another couple from our area in the introductions, it was a useful excuse to say that a hobby and passion of mine was target shooting. At dinner, two other couples came up to talk to me about shooting – one a recreational & occasional shooter and the other a hunter. Suddenly, the number of people who actually shoot or who were fine with guns in the home was now the majority on the bus. Anyone who might have been uncomfortable with it before now had to deal with the fact that they were in the minority opinion in the group. The hunter and I even talked about the various species he and his family members harvest and the deer numbers of northern New York. We created a casual atmosphere for other shooters to come out of the closet and talk about their sport like it was any other hobby or interest rather than a contentious political subject.

Shooting became the norm on that bus headed to the top of Mauna Kea. Mix that with the fact that Sebastian was the only one taking decent shots of the stars (real photos to come later) with everyone wondering how to do it, and some friendly conversation over dinner, and we gave guns a happy, human face.

14 thoughts on “Making Shooters the “Norm””

  1. Cool tour! I wish that it existed when I went to Hawaii some years ago! I doubt that I will ever be able to go to Hawaii again, but if I do, that’s on my list.

  2. Take a telescope if you do. You can get up there with a jeep. To the visitors center with a regular car. They let you set up your own stuff. We got to see Io transit Jupiter. Everything is clear as a bell up there. Take a winter jacket.

  3. And for the record, it doesn’t annoy me in situations like that. There are, however, just some situations that I prefer to leave politics out of.

  4. When we drove up-hill from Kailua last November to find local Kona coffee (A href=””>Hula Daddy insanely awesome coffee), we ran into a husband and wife couple slightly younger than us from Santa Rosa, California (!). They said they had been on a Big Island hunt and kinda did the Hawaiian Grand-Slam of birds: pheasants, chukar and turkeys, and hooves: pigs, goat and sheep.
    Hunting is big on the Big Island and the season is year-round with few bag limits depending on the Game Management Area: “Two pigs and one goat per hunter per day.No season limit.”
    Also (GMA dependent) allowed are: Rifle, muzzleloader, shotgun, hand gun, bow and arrow, spears and knives… Dogs permitted* Knives?? I wouldn’t want to hunt a wild boar with just a knife – they’re incredibly dangerous and the Hawaiian jungle is very dense – but some do and they do it with dogs. Amazing. It’s a financial big-deal for them, and they really want and NEED to eradicate destructive and over-populated non-native species, and that includes feral cattle

  5. I hunt with a guy who hunts hogs with a knife. First time I went out with him (we were running his dogs) I was talking to him before hand and he asked how he was going to take his down since he didn’t have a gun. He pulled out a knife.

    It was impressive to see..

  6. btw, in that video – and the guys I know in the Carolina’s, use Cur dogs and pit bulls. Pit bulls are great hunters.

  7. I’ve introduced a couple people to the shooting sports. One in particular (who had been shooting before, but was not a serious shooter) took on as a challenge a particular high-intensity shooting event as his first big learning experience. It’s the sort of event that requires a half-minute rifle at 600 yards, so he was spending a lot of timing shopping for options, learning about guns and optics and ballistics, and so on. This entailed *talking* to a lot of people about shooting, and he’s a naturally gregarious sort of person, so the topic kept coming up…

    … and people in his life who he had never suspected were into shooting started talking to him about their shooting experiences, giving him recommendations, and generally sharing the hobby.

    We’re talking a lot of people in a very liberal profession suddenly realizing, “Hey, you’re one of us? We can talk to you about this now!” It was an eye opening experience for him, and a little bit for me as well.

    It made me realize how little shooters really do talk to people outside the shooting and gun owning circles. I guess it was a social mistake to admit to shooting for so long that people just … didn’t talk about it.

    I’ve tried not to be that person, with some success, and it’s amazing how many people come out of the woodwork once someone else has brought it up. It’s important to do this, and keep doing it, because gun ownership and participating in the shooting sports needs to become something normal.

  8. There is a huge divide between hunting and shooting sports and carrying a gun around on a regular basis. No doubt Bitter and Sebastian also explained to people that their commitment to guns went far beyond hunting and target shooting, yes?

    1. You don’t have time to go into every single facet of the shooting culture on a tour where people still want to see things like the top of the tallest mountain in the world and some of the clearest star gazing in the world. Shocking, I know, that the tour was still the primary focus when most people paid about $200/person to be up there.

    1. Not hard, just a lie. I don’t have a husband. And again, it’s about making the entire culture the norm, not just one aspect. You have to look at your audience, in this case visitors to Hawaii – the Aloha State isn’t known as the gun state – and many visitors there come from areas that don’t allow guns in private hands. Not to mention, talking about carrying isn’t actually a hobby for me. I got into the issue because I thought shooting was fun – that’s the passion.

  9. My wife and I did the reverse on our honeymoon, watched the sun rise from the top of Haleakala Volcano on Maui, then did a bike ride down the mountain. Absolutely unbelievable.

    Thanks for the tour idea when I get the opportunity to go back to go check out the stars and sunset on the Big Island.

    1. The tour can be done as the proper tour or on a “do it on your own” tour. The way I see it, there are benefits to going with the formal tour, and a few drawbacks.

      1) Most people haven’t been to those altitudes, so they don’t know how they will react. Sebastian has only been up to about 9,000 ft before. I had been within about 1,000 feet or so of the Mauna Kea altitudes because of my trip up Klein Matterhorn, so I had a rough idea of what to expect. I didn’t feel like driving on a rough mountain road with the fastest ascent time from sea level to summit in the world was the best way to get that first high altitude experience for Sebastian. Better to let someone else drive.

      2) The expense of renting a 4 wheel drive vehicle for the entire week would have come near the cost of the tour for one of us. Add on to that worse gas mileage with all the places we were driving, and it would have really taken a toll. There was no where else we needed a 4 wheel drive, contrary to what the guide book said. I read about too many people in 4 wheel drives finding Green Sand Beach to be impossible to drive to, and after seeing the WaipiÊ»o Valley road, there was no way I would have felt comfortable doing that. As our guide on that tour pointed out, there’s a lot of paint on those guardrails. And even with a guy who has literally lived in the valley all of his life and done that drive just about daily for most of it, there are areas so steep that it almost felt like the car would flip over your head.

      3) The tour guides (and I have read many places that the company we chose – Hawaii Forest & Trail – is by far the best) are really knowledgeable and can point things out you never would have noticed. They have background on so many things you’ll see that you’ll never remember to look up when you come home.

      4) For the star viewing, they have pretty nice telescopes on board the bus, so you don’t have to share at the visitor’s center with a giant crowd of strangers. No bus held more than about a dozen people, so our groups were nice and small. Our tour guide also brought along his iPhone with some astronomy apps that he could use to show us different things we couldn’t quite see.

      5) The biggest drawback, in my opinion, was the limited time on the summit. We spent probably half an hour or so up there, but it would have been nice to go up even earlier and spend more time. The other downside is that you aren’t technically on the true summit if you go on a commercial tour. Granted, you’re so close that the summit doesn’t actually look much higher than where you are standing. The difference must be just a few feet. However, it takes a while to walk over to the true summit. It’s also a spiritual location for the native Hawaiians whose ancestors believed that was where the earth met the sky. Because of the commercial groups going up there and stomping around, there is a ban on tour groups walking over there. So it would be neat to do sometime on your own. But otherwise, we did get to see the sun fully set, and the guide was helping in pointing out Haleakalā where we otherwise might not have seen it.

      Another thing to consider for the tour is that they offer pretty good AAA discounts. Don’t go through AAA to reserve though. For some reason, AAA partners with them and jacks up the price over the rack rate for the same tour. But, if you call the company directly and say you’re a AAA member, you can save nearly the size of your tip so more goes directly into the hands of the person giving you the quality tour and saves you a few bucks.

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