So in my previous post I explored some of the more basic personalities you could encounter when visiting your local public gun range. These recreational shooters often have a diverse range in character and experience with firearms (or claim to). But there is also a more “gun oriented” crowd of the recreational shooter species that you also need to be aware of.
Species #4 – Range Nazis: These are among some of the most prevalent species of shooters at the public gun ranges. Not because of large numbers mind you (thankfully there are actually quite few), but because the Range Nazi is by far one of the more vocal personalities present. Often observed strutting up and down the firing line the Range Nazi feels it is their duty to enforce all range and safety rules to the utmost of their ability. If you have a speciality weapon the Range Nazi will demand on-sight inspection of your ATF stamp, or if it is a cross-over AR pistol style weapon demand you move to the rifle range. Typically this species of shooter is also a staff or range member who is not genuinely concerned with your safety, but rather the limited liability their business could afford if someone were to make any perceived or real mistake. They will note every unsafe individual doing unsafe things in an unsafe manner; and either puff themselves up and threaten you with ejection from the range, or gleefully scurry off to inform management of the infractions. Eventually the Range Nazi advances to such a degree they actually don’t shoot at all, and spend as much time possible shouting at patrons it actually drives away other shooters. Thus the real nemesis of the Range Nazi is basically everyone else at the gun range because only when their sense of righteous enforcement is satisfied will they then begin shooting – so basically never. Eventually the Range Nazi gives in to advancing age and retires as the old curmudgeon who sits in their garage yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off his lawn.
Sub-species – Competition Shooters: One of the more flamboyant sub-species to the Range Nazi is the Competition Shooter. Resembling a human billboard; the Competition Shooter is typically adorned in colorful, skin-tight clothing with a multitude of retailers, thinking they resemble a Spartan warrior but look more like a balloon stuffed with marshmallows hulking around more gun gear than realistic. They love to go out to the gun range and build miniature towns made of plywood, then blast as much ammo through it all in a ballistic orgy of their favorite “practical” shooting scenario. The relationship to the Range Nazi stems from the fact that Competition Shooters follow a zealot-like adherence to any rule, specifically ones centered on timing. However, the natural enemy of Competition Shooter is an Operator going back to an age-old argument on the definition of “practical” shooting. Ultimately, Competition shooters require copious amounts of sponsorship to feed their consumption at the range for “training” – but without which they will typically wither up and fade away. The Competition Shooter is typically followed closely by another species of recreational shooter, the Range Chicken, who together have an almost symbiotic relationship. Wherever the Competition Shooter goes; the Range Chicken follows gobbling up all the spent brass.
Species #5 – Range Chicken: One distinct species of shooter at the public gun range is known as the Range Chicken. Continually bending over to retrieve spent brass for the purposes of reloading, the Range Chicken closely resembles the fowl of its namesake, often crooning softly as it retrieves the brass and checking its caliber. It’s common that the Range Chicken will become so engrossed in retrieving spent brass that they often make no delineation between the brass from their own cartridges, and those belonging to other members on the firing line. This can create tension between the Range Chicken and other species, like the Competition Shooter whom themselves seek to do their own reloading but upon turning to retrieve their brass find the Range Chicken sheepishly (but unabashedly) stealing the cartridges like a chicken hawk. You can know a Range Chicken on sight by their unique ammo bag (note different than a regular range bag) that is half-empty when they arrive but full when they depart.
Species #6 – Urban Commando: In previous posts I have delved into the Urban Commando species after encountering them at my own public gun range, and how best to deal with them. They’re seldom seen in the wintery months, as they prefer “researching” military tactics from their favorite war movie, the Military Channel, or the most recent release of Call of Duty. The ultimate goal of the Urban Commando is to attain a level of notoriety at the gun range similar to that of their favorite Hollywood cinematic character, John Rambo. The Urban Commando will have the biggest, loudest, and often most expensive firearm on the gun range placing them directly in confrontation with their nemesis, the Glam Fairy. With little or no formalized training in proper weapons usage, or experience by which to frame the context of their visit to the gun range, the Urban Commando will proceeded to demonstrate zero trigger discipline and unleash a horrific volley of ammunition at the threatening silhouette target only 10-15’ away. This can often bring about the circling Range Chicken and the ire of the Range Nazi, but the Urban Commando cares not – this is exactly how he unlocked Ranger Level in Battlefield/Call of Duty and they will not be deterred.
Species #7 – Operators: It is within this species of recreational shooter you will find many of your current and former military, law enforcement, and government officials. Operators can range in appearance as diverse as their experience level with weapons, as many often only receive the most rudimentary formalized training with weapons and are required only to maintain an annual qualification. However, others within the Operator species draw upon vast levels of personal and professional experience. This dynamic results in a variety of “gear do” appearances with varying quantities of tactical gear, often under the misconception that the more “Special Forces” gear they possess the more they will be perceived as such. So after investing a sizable sum of money that would make even a Glam Fairy squeamish, the Operator can then resemble a mobile pill box when they are covered in helmet, wrap around sunglasses, ballistic vest, magazine carriers, dump pouch, battle belts, hand-knuckle Kevlar gloves, blow-out bags, thigh holster, knee/elbow pads, riot shield, a short-barreled AR with all the fixing’s, pyro, chem. lights, etc, etc, etc. Despite all that they will be able to barely move, have zero dexterity, and truly resemble “light” infantry where their total body mass is three times excess of their normal body weight.
Sub-species – Tactical Mall Ninja: If ever there was an annoying tactical cousin to the Yuppie Shooters, it would be the sub-species of Operator known as the Tactical Mall Ninja. They draw their namesake upon the fact that their modus operandi (Tactical Mall Ninja speak) is the innate need to purchase anything of a tactical nature in all black. Black vest, black head wrap (sometimes with skull print), black AR rifle, black holsters, black shirt, black pants, black boots, black, black, black. In addition, they are often seen wearing any number of edged weapons in the event their poor marksmanship skills are exposed and they are required to “go traditional” with their Samurai sword, bayonet, or Cold Steel machete. The zombie apocalypse fan-boy clubs often fall into these sub-species of recreational shooters in their ever-present need to “prepare” without having any knowledge on what it is their preparing for (aside from zombies). Tactical Mall Ninjas will often croon loudly to anyone listening about governmental conspiracies and a desperate need for people to “wake up”. But without any shred of evidence to support their claims the Tactical Mall Ninjas appear more like the tin-foil hat brigade members causing their own isolation. While content to “Lone Wolf” it out, the Tactical Mall Ninja is often placed in conflict with their closely akin sub-species of Operator; Militiaman “Mike”, whom then will argue what is the better range fashion, black or camouflage and what gear will get them through the looming Doomsday scenario where cannibalism and a degenerated society are the norm. It’s extremely exhausting to listen to the Tactical Mall Ninja and when they are confronted with any challenge representing fact, they will throw a huff like a high school diva and stomp away claiming, “You don’t understand them”.
Sub-species – Militiaman “Mike”: The final sub-species of Operators is the oft camouflage Militiaman “Mike”. Everyone calls him Mike because no one really knows his name and he insists that as a member of a former elite special operations unit his name and background are classified above SUPER TOP SECRET. A number of these individuals also actually are members of their local militias, which makes them often prone to the more extreme side of the gun community and large proprietors of any government conspiracy. Be prepared for extensive dialogue on FALSE FLAG scenarios no matter how logic-defying they may be (or later proven false). They’re closely aligned with their cousin the Tactical Mall Ninja in their deep seeded desire to purchase anything of a tactical nature, but to Militiaman “Mike” the need is for everything to be camouflage vice black. Militiaman “Mike” is also prone to wear clothing with significant “flair” such as the tactical kilt provided it is in a camouflage pattern while often posing for the typical hero photo opportunity at the gun range. Militiaman ”Mike” tends to congregate in large groups boasting unrealistic levels of experiences “playing army” or what they call militia drills that enable them to overlook the fact they were disqualified from any actual military service.
Sub-species – Ruminating Veteran: These individuals are in essence the matured sub-species of the Operator family representing the retired and elderly veterans of our nation. They appear at the range, sadly in diminishing numbers and genuinely have some of this nation’s most interesting stories on pivotal moments in our history. They don’t really go to the gun range to shoot, but just to get away from their home for a bit. Do be wary however as often their age has not diminished their skill and as a former Operator, they still possess the firearms training that framed a majority of their lives. The Ruminating Veteran can putter aimlessly around the range, spending more time sipping coffee (if they were prior enlisted) or a macchiato (if officer) and possess strongly negative views on the Department of Veteran Affairs and government (something about cutting back the very financial necessities an individual needs to survive retirement tends to make them surly). Generally the Ruminating Veteran is harmless and will often take the Novice under their wing and bring about a close mentor/mentee bond that is critical for developing the next generation of recreational shooter.
Species #8 – The Pariah Shooter: The final species of recreational shooter is the Pariah. A sad and lonely individual, these shooters haunt the gun ranges like malcontent ghosts. Their often older individuals who really just visit the gun range to escape whatever situation it is at home that their attempting to avoid, such as a nagging wife, grandkids, or the sickening fact their a 40-something unmarried individual still living in the basement of a family member. It’s not uncommon for the Pariah Shooter, who has little or no interest in actually shooting, to closely align themselves with the Ruminating Veteran, as both are more interested in swapping stories. Basically harmless the Pariah Shooter often becomes such a regular fixture that they become unofficial “staff” hired on simple because they know everyone already working there.
Author’s Note: Before anyone writes me blasting that I am biased or basically a jerk, let me say this; I classified these species of recreational shooters in Part I and Part II because typically that is how I have seen people separate themselves at various public gun ranges. Going to private ones that offer specialized training often cuts down on the amount of varied shooters a great deal. But you cannot overlook the fact that generally speaking most people shooting in a public venue fall into these categories. Personally, I am one of the Operator species (falling between the Ruminating Veteran and more Range Chicken) as I’m more than willing to help people out as much as I want to shoot, but my tolerance for dealing with Tactical Mall Ninjas and Yuppie Shooters is very short. I try to exercise good range etiquette, trumped only by safety and I honestly want everyone to have a good experience. Sadly, that can’t be said for others. So if any of this offends you – maybe it’s because I’m just being honest. I took this time away from writing serious, news driven articles because I wanted to take a brake from the depressing for a bit and have a little fun. Hope you enjoyed it.