My Story of How I Became a Gunnie

Jennifer asks:

But whether I’ve met you or not, I want to know your story.  The vast majority of my readers are firearms enthusiasts of some stripe.  How did that happen?  How did you become gunnies?

I was into shooting, pretty much only air guns and smallbore, from the time I was about 12 and 13 up until maybe 15. My Uncle and cousins moved to a more rural area where you could safely do that. Now it’s been built up and you’d get a SWAT team called on you for doing some of the shit we did, but we got away with it in the late 80s.

I completely lost touch with the hobby from 16 through to my mid-20s, which is probably fairly common for most young men. I did not get back into shooting until my friend Jason (same guy who is doing the 3D magazine project) took me out one time, and I remembered I once really enjoyed this.

Romainian SAR-1 AK-47 CloneA few months later he informed me there was a sale on Romanian AK-47 clones on sale at a local gun store near him. I was surprised this was legal, since I was aware of the Assault Weapons Ban, so I started researching, and discovered what it actually banned. I went up there and bought one. You can see it in the picture not to long after it was purchased.

I did not buy it for anything other than a novelty. In truth, I got it because I was appalled at the Assault Weapons Ban when it passed, and was even more appalled at it after I understood what it was really about. I short, I wanted it because a certain types of people who can’t mind their own damned business frowned on the idea of me having one, and I did not aim to please them. Turned out, however, I enjoyed shooting it. My next purchase, after that, was a .22LR pistol, a Ruger Mk.II, which I loved to shoot, and it was all downhill from there.

I purchased my first gun in 2000, after the Y2K thing turned out to be nothing. I’m guessing that was the reason for the sale. I did not grow up in a house with guns. My mother never would have allowed it. Whether she would have allowed me to keep one in our house as an adult, I don’t know. She died when I was 20 and did not have a say in the matter. My dad was fine with it. I moved into an apartment later that year, but I was still living at home when I bought my first firearm.

I did not get a License to Carry a firearm until 2002. The first firearm I carried in public was a Bersa Thunder .380. I took it on a trip to my sister’s the day I got the license just because I could. I felt very awkward, and thought everyone could see it. By that time I knew how to be safe with a pistol, as I had been learning for two years. If I knew then what I know now, I would have sought more formal training with reputable instructors in those two years than I did.

I did not get into competitive shooting until 2007. My only classification competitively is in NRA Air Pistol Indoor/Outdoor, and IHMSA. I have never been classified in IPSC or IDPA, and have never shot a formal match in either sport. This is not because I wouldn’t like to, but because the clubs in my area either don’t allow such shooting, or if they do don’t have formally sanctioned matches by a  Shooting Sports governing body. Ironically the best place for me to shoot those kinds of matches is over at Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol, who run a lot of great matches, but taking a gun into New Jersey is not a wise move. Just ask Brian Aitken.

Finally, I got into gun blogging to impress a girl who said I should do it. She’s now my co-blogger, among other things :) I kept gun blogging because I built an audience, which surprised the hell out of me. Through this I’ve gotten to meet some terrific people. I don’t have any current plans to stop. What’s next for me in this issue? I’d like to find more trigger time competitively, and try some practical shooting sports. I’ve gotten out of the swing, so to speak, because of my schedule. Made the IHMSA match this weekend. It was fun. Every once in a while you need a reminder that shooting is more fun than working.

So that’s my story. What’s yours?

13 thoughts on “My Story of How I Became a Gunnie”

  1. Guthsville shouldn’t be that long a ride for you to try out IDPA or USPSA sometime. I’m guessing 45min-1hr depending on where exactly you live.

  2. I grew up shooting smallbore and air rifles. Bought a handgun at 21, shooting a few hundred rounds a year. Since 2008 I’ve been shooting around 10,000 rounds a year and start doing competitive shoots while adding to my collection and filling the safe.

    I just enjoy the shooting sports.

  3. I enjoyed reading your bio. While we may occasionally disagree around the margins of some issues, your blog is my go-to place for gun rights news and I appreciate the fact that the debate here mostly remains on-topic.

  4. I was 42 when my Grandfather, age 98, passed away in 2000 and I inherited a M1898 .30-40 Krag rifle, and an A-5 Browning shotgun. Before that I never owned a gun and had been brought up by my parents with a persistent aura of negativity about guns. I had fired a pistol once before and a revolver a couple times, but never got hooked on it or felt compelled to own one – and the negative indoctrination stuck for a long time until I began to encounter it’s twin likeness in anti-off-road bigotry… I like old tools and History and such stuff, and shortly after Grandpa’s passing I had a friend introduce me to shooting and became a CMP club-member, and I bought an M1 Garand and then I had to get a 1943 Colt 1911A1 to go with the ’44 Garand, and an M1909 Colt to go with the 1900 Krag, and then an M1 Carbine…
    Then for the same reason you bought the AK, I built an AR — and then I got a Sig…

  5. I grew up around guns, it started when my dad and grandfather would take us out to a distant relatives farm in a small town (I’m talking half the tombstones in the cemetary had the same last name small) and we would camp, fish and shoot .22s and an old .410 shotgun. That grew into hunting first with family friends hunting doves but grew to having a 10,000 acre hunting lease where we hunted dove, quail, deer, pigs and the occasional coyote. My first personally owned gun was a mossberg 500 shotgun, but years later I went to the gun range with a friend to try out his new pistols and I was hooked. Within a few months with a large tax return in hand I bought a really nice pistol, an H&K P30. The next year I was able to shoot some ARs and AKs and I had to have one. Once again with a good tax return I bough a Sig 516 in 5.56. And that is where I am today.

  6. My parents didn’t have guns when I grew up, but my grandpa did, and so I was familiar with the idea of keeping guns in the house. My grandpa even tried practicing archery indoors, in setups that make me cringe now as I think about it–but I have at least some confidence that he made sure that no one would be in range when he practiced.

    Oh, and when I went to scout camp, I would fire the bolt-action .22LR rifles. I didn’t ever get good enough to earn the badge, though.

    In any case, I didn’t give the issue itself much thought, until the year I graduated from college, and I read “More Guns, Less Crime”. I came away from that book, thinking “It would be a good idea for me to get a gun, and a concealed carry permit.” I couldn’t afford it at the time, though, so I didn’t do it; since I lived in Utah, it would have been easy.

    About a year or so later, I was in New York State, and I read an essay called “A Nation of Cowards” by Jeff Snyder. That essay convinced me that carrying a gun was a moral duty, and it annoyed me that I didn’t have the time, as a graduate student, to navigate the labyrinth of New York laws to legally carry a pistol.

    Now I’m living in Utah again. I shoot when I can, which isn’t often (I depend on friends and family to take me shooting), and I still can’t afford what I consider a minimum that every citizen has a duty to own–a pistol to carry, and a rifle for “militia” duties–but I’m saving up what I can, so that I could some day fulfill my duty.

    And someday I also hope to participate in competitions, which I would expect to be fun!

  7. After having observed your shooting a couple of weeks ago, I would have sworn you shot IDPA or similar. Wow (and I mean that in a very flattering way.)


  8. Fantastic story. It is very similar to mine in many ways. It’s a shame you can’t do any IDPA or IPSC. I did my first a weekend ago and I can safely say I’m hooked.

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