So given my recent adventures at my public shooting range, I decided to classify the various species found in these venues. This may perhaps assist you as a fellow shooter and patron when dealing with such personalities. Bear in mind of course that local environments often produce different adaptations, but in my assessment there are approximately eight different species of shooters along with 10 distinct sub-species (for the purpose of this article they will be divided up into two blog entries).
Species #1 – The Novice Shooter: These are the individuals whom are embarking on their adventure into the firearms world for the first time. The Novice Shooter will initially project a great deal of insecurity while handling any firearm, air soft rifle, or even a popgun. This is due mainly to growing up in a society that has largely emasculated men, households where the gun culture is considered “evil”, and zero-tolerance schools have rules against even nibbling your Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun that got you expelled. The Novice Shooter will often “flag” others in the vicinity while seeking assistance, forgetting simple safety fundamentals and ask you, “Is it supposed to look like this?” while pointing a loaded gun directly at your face. A telltale sign for The Novice Shooter is their oft soft, supple, and as yet untouched-by-the-sun skin that resembles a newborn babe and serves as a provocative sign to The Novice Shooters nemesis, the Range Nazi (who will hover excessively close barking out all manner of things they find offensive). While initially requiring continual and close supervision by all members on the firing line (safety is everyone’s responsibility), be warned, in time and with ample training The Novice Shooter can themselves evolve into becoming a highly refined shooter and different gun range species all together.
Sub-species – The Traditionalist: An offshoot of The Novice Shooter, The Traditionalist is an individual who highly favors Cosplay and never evolved in firearms skill beyond a single-shot black powder rifle. They view today’s modern firearms as near sacrilegious and often possess a wood-stock rifle larger than they are tall, insisting it is the way things were “meant” to be. Prepare to dodge copious amounts of dipping tobacco while conversing with The Traditionalist, who rely on verbiage like “whatnot” and “thingamabob” as they abhor using anything that acknowledges they are in fact not in the 18th Century. The Traditionalist will often dress in period-correct clothing ranging from (1) a pre-Colonial American pioneer in a leather shirt/pants combo, phony animal pelt, powder horn, and those annoying tassels fluttering around like their some stripper, or (2) in a Civil War-era uniform whereby they insist to act and talk on the firing line like solders “did back then” before hurriedly rushing back to their cars for coffee and the heater or AC (seasonal dependent). The Civil War variants often hold large groupthink parties called “reenactments” that allow them to meld with fellow Traditionalists in denying the existence of the 21st Century while wistfully ruminating on “what could have been”. Typically you can identify The Traditionalist by the large plume of gray smoke that accompanies a single blast from their rifle-cannons, halting all shooting on the firing line while everyone else waits for the air to literally “clear”. For this explicit reason, Traditionalists are often banned from indoor gun ranges.
Species #2 – The Dynamic Duo (BF/GF): Often observed in pairs and never far from the other, The Dynamic Duo is basically a younger boyfriend who had the “great idea” of bringing his girlfriend shooting with them despite her objections. Neither will have any quantity of skill with firearms, and have more interest in swapping physical affections (including large amounts of vapid giggling) between each other rather than actually using their firing lane. She will continually seek to gain his attention and distract him by complaining about the noise, the recoil, the smoke, the sun, the dust, bugs, or other shooters. He will compensate for her lack of shooting interest by insisting she try the largest caliber gun the range can rent, despite her demure 90lb stature, setting the stage for a dramatic failure down the line (try not to laugh when it does happen – but you know you saw it coming). The end result of their time at the gun range will be a verbal argument over something extremely petty that will only end when she departs in tears because (1) she feels he’s not being attentive to her enough, (2) accuse him of setting her up to injure her eye/head/fingers/nails/makeup on purpose, (3) or thinks shooting in general is “silly” and wants to go to back to the mall.
Sub-species – Old Gramps & The Ungrateful Child: One minor sub-species of The Dynamic Duo is the contrasting and wheezened grandfather taking little “Timmy” to the gun range in a vain attempt to “man him up”. Often observed in a setting with the grandfather judiciously doling out .22LR cartridges one at a time, as if they were made from solid gold. The grandfather will continue to bark at Timmy to “shoot like I showed you” forgetting that he neither showed the child how to hold and aim the weapon, or employ proper trigger squeeze but rather just thrust the rifle into the boy’s arms and pointed him downrange. This places poor “Timmy” on the spot, not knowing how to appropriately manage the (typically) full-sized rifle for his youth frame, or that his grandfather isn’t helping in the slightest. Eventually the grandfather will give up and lament that “kids these days” just aren’t like they used to be back in his day while Timmy is just glad to be heading back to his Xbox where he can play “real” Army on Call of Duty.
Species #3 – Yuppie Shooters: By far one of the most annoying species of gun range shooters. Typically Yuppie (short for young urban professionals) Shooters come from an oft-privileged childhood where everything was provided to them from their hovering helicopter portents. As a child, the Yuppie Shooter’s household was decidedly anti-gun therefore they too will continue to parrot that narrative without framing any of their own opinions. They will cite guns as barbaric, scary, or “foolish” yet will willingly go out on a personal mission to prove that a weapon’s usage requires no special skill and that all other shooters at the gun range are incompetent. This only makes the situation worse however, as Yuppie Shooters are notoriously terrible marksmen bringing on the wrath of the lurking Range Nazi. However, the true nemesis of the Yuppie Shooter and its sub-species is The Operator as many military, law enforcement, and veterans find the mere existence of Yuppies and their display of weapon familiarity deeply offensive. Yuppie Shooters are noted typically adorned at the gun range in the usual non-conformist clothing sold (ironically) via Hot Topic, Spencer’s, or some other retail marketer (commonly associated to their favorite band and/or action group) in an appearance that can only be described as “upscale hobo”. Yuppie Shooter “range wear” often consists of v-neck shirts, fedora hats, or knit caps that clash horrifically and expose their skin to burns from the sun or ejected brass. As their shooting experience goes on they will become increasingly frustrated due to their unfamiliarity in firearms, marksmanship, or range rules before leaving in a huff and immediately go in search of the nearest Starbucks where they can pretentiously blast off on their blog about how they proved guns are evil. Avoid them and their sub-species at all costs.
Sub-species – Hipster Shooters: A sub-species of the Yuppie Shooter, Hipsters are easily identified by their extreme aversion to anything considered mainstream, work, or merely effort. This extends into the shooting arena by utilizing any firearm in an odd-sized caliber, function, model, or basically anything that resembles a weapon not manufactured by a major industrialized country (think of weapons from the Czech Republic or other Cold War bloc nations). A key identification marker for the Hipster Shooter is their thick black rimmed glasses, tight European-cut jeans, and typically spend most of their time on the firing line looking at their rented weapon in something of a cross between wonder and confusion. This is because most Hipster Shooters have gained a false sense of the gun world from their idols in Hollywood and fully expect that upon firing the weapon their shoulders will become dislocated, they will be hurled back against the wall, or some other nonsense. Be warned – do NOT engage a Hipster in conversation, or risk a ruptured blood vessel as Hipster Shooters often posses an over-inflated sense of education or self-worth. And while they may know a little on firearms, Hipster Shooters will feel more than happy to lecture you on the misconceptions of the “gun violence” debate from their oft-parroted and favorite news source (typically MSNBC or HLN).
Sub-species – Thugs & Trash: Another variant of the Yuppie Shooter is the Thug & [White] Trash shooter. These are individuals whom have framed their entire lives in the context of rap videos or crude Hollywood films glorifying extensive shooting scenes and impractical explosions. The Thug and White Trash shooters are easily identified by their sleeveless t-shirts, or in how they hold the firearm (a full one-arm extension with the weapon turned 90-degrees), and then get pissed that they’re being pelted in the face and arms with brass. Another easy identification feature is their desperate need for overcompensation in grossly oversized magazines, specifically a near fetish with the 30-round high capacity Glock variant. Then of course their weapon selection (assuming they can pass the background check) almost always runs in the same vein with either shotguns, fan boy Glocks, or oversized chrome-plated revolvers that are unrealistic but look like a mini-howitzer. It’s best just to leave these shooters alone as they often travel in packs and will soon depart in a vehicle whose sound system costs more than the total value of their car.
Sub-species – The Pretty Princess: An annoying off-shoot of the Yuppie shooter, the Pretty Princess is also closely related to one side of the Dynamic Duo. Similarly, she is often either the girlfriend or daughter of another range member who thought it would be a “great idea” to bring her majesty along and share in the experience or to teach her “how to defend herself” in the event of zombies. However, the experience is anything but of interest to The Pretty Princess as she will interpret anyone’s disinterest with her as an offense due to having grown-up the center of her doting parents and fawning boyfriend’s attention. She will often arrive in clothing not suitable to range work, be it a short skirt, low-cut blouse, or bikini (anything that assists in drawing attention to her “assets” thereby garnering more attention). When presented with a weapon she will rather complain about the weight of the weapon, the dirt at the rage, loud noises, or limited cellular access at the range and inability to text her friends. But caution should be exercised as often she will be paired with a weapon far beyond her ability to control (typically in a vain attempt to “fit in” or again place herself at the center of attention) that can result in her falling flat on her ass (or excessively flagging other members of the range causing them to dive for cover). Oddly, The Pretty Princess also can be observed demonstrating her own gravitational pull as, upon arrival, other members of the gun range (typically men) will gravitate to wherever The Princess is, often going out of their way and citing any manner of excuse to be within visual range of her.
Sub-species – The Glam Fairy: This is one of the odd convolutions to the Yuppie shooter species, being one who was initially hesitant to the firearms industry but has since embraced it…in excess. These are individuals with a large amount of “disposable” income and want everyone on the gun range to know it, outfitting their rifle(s) with every conceivable accessory on the market. They will also own multiple variations of the same caliber weapon citing the more rifles they own, the more accessories they need – thereby becoming a vicious self-sustaining cycle. Not to be outdone, they will then attempt to dominate the firing line by blasting through their ammo at a minimum rate three times that of the regular shooter (an act akin to entering a room with a dining party and shouting at the top of your lungs to dominate all conversation within earshot) – just to prove the point they have a ton of ammo that they bought at full retail. Never mind the fact they’re barely able to shoulder the rifle from the combined weight in accessories, or aim with any sense of accuracy. The Glam Fairy shooter is typically a gun retailer themselves and uses said business to justify the need for even more gear in a never-ending pursuit of the “tacticool”. Often the Glam Fairy will claim exuberant levels of knowledge as a Super Top Secret Navy Seal Delta Force Ranger, but in fact met any number of disqualifying factors for military service, knew “a guy” from a three-times removed acquaintance who was in a Super Top Secret Navy Seal Delta Force Ranger unit, or simply never wanted to but seeks the recognition.
If you’d like to read more on My Thoughts into the Eight Species of Recreational Shooters – Part II is where we explore the more “tactical” world of shooter personalities…