Changing Shooting Culture

Michael Bane reports on the changing shooting culture. It is well worth reading

We talked about the transformation of the gun culture a couple of weeks ago on the podcast. Here’s my nut graf: The gun culture has morphed from a hobbyist culture focused largely on hunting and somewhat on formal competition (back in the 1960s and earlier) into a more coherent culture built around self-defense, concealed carry, RKBA issues, training, competition and some hunting. The elements of our culture that are growing, as noted by another poster, are self-defense/concealed carry…and that growth is in demographics where we historically have never been strong — women, young men, etc.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Carl

    I’m fascinated with the American obsession to always “conceal” that you are carrying a firearm. It’s CCW this and CHL that all the time. It is almost to the point where “concealing” has aquired the meaning of “carrying a firearm” in general. It’s like people are ashamed of carrying weapons. It is very strange, and likely not very good for the long-term survival of RKBA.

  • Redchrome

    that’s the point of the open carry movement. I don’t know what it’s like in other places, but up here in New Hampshire we have a decent number of people who open carry on a regular basis as a way to exercise their rights and accustom other people to the exercise of those rights.

    The ‘open carry litter pickups’ got a lot of positive publicity and helped accustom the local police to the idea of open carry.

    I myself don’t do it as avidly as some others; but I have been known to. Mostly I prefer to be unobtrusive and low-profile.

    I do agree with Michael Bane tho; the military-rifle market is growing hugely. Obama really was the best gun salesman ever — I saw 3-4x as many ARs at a ‘tactical’ rifle event after he took office, as I had 2 years before.

    The hunting orientation of a lot of the shooting groups has been to the detriment of our freedoms in a lot of ways. The hunters with bolt guns and pump guns don’t feel threatened when ‘ugly black rifles’ are banned; so they don’t fight that legislation as avidly. Once they have an AR tho… now the law directly affects them, and they’re more willing to do something about it.

  • zack

    @carl That is why I open carry every chance I get. I do have a CCW but rarely use it. I personally feel that CCW is something that people use because they feel afraid to be approached my cop or people who might ask why they do it. There is really no tactical advantage to carrying CCW, people say you are a hidden threat to bad guys, I rather be a proactive deterrent to a bad man verses a reactive deterrent. I think they are way to many ill trained gun owners who carry that do not practice that a bigger threat then they help.

  • “The gun culture has morphed from a hobbyist culture focused largely on hunting and somewhat on formal competition (back in the 1960s and earlier) into a more coherent culture built around self-defense, concealed carry”

    I think it is absolutely positive. The politically correct “guns are just for shooting and hunting” direction leads to British situation. For long term success: self defence have to be the main issue.

  • Matt Groom

    When open carry was common, many municipalities thought that the widespread open carrying of arms conveyed a sense of lawlessness, and forbade the carrying of arms in towns. There were no exceptions for carrying concealed, and the benefits of concealed carry for people who cannot or will not carry were unknown at the time. In places where concealed carry was commonplace, like large metropolitan areas, it was legal to carry firearms for many years after it was uncommon in places where open carry had been previously banned. I support open carry only as a means of protecting those who carry concealed.

    As far as the changing culture goes, I feel that people feel less and less connection to hunting, because they’ve never been hungry and emaciated the way many of our grandparents and great grand parents had lived. It’s not seen as a necessity, and it seems like a cruel sport even to people like me. Hunting was popular when it was a vital source of nutrition, and it no longer is for most people.

    Before the rise of the concealed carry movement, the only reason most people owned guns was for hunting, since self defense in the home was a given, and carry outside the home was frowned upon. The only other valid reason for owning a gun was if the Russians invaded, and that was considered an extremist position. Sort of a “Let’s not talk about that” proposition. Therefore, you’ll still meet old timers who will say that ‘no law abiding person needs to own a pistol’ and such. As hunting became less popular, firearms ownership declined. But Government kept growing.

    Pretty soon, people weren’t worried so much about the Soviets taking their guns away as they were worried about the Democrats. The DNC had been trying to destroy the second amendment since at least the 1920’s, and nothing much had changed, except the culture, and the geo-political climate. Under Clinton, it was seen as the perfect time to take big steps at squelching the right to bear arms.

    But as with the Tea Party movement, people sensed these actions as a naked power grab, and they resisted it. They bought guns that were being vilified as a way to make money and “get it before it’s gone”. There’s a natural appeal and mystique for that which is forbidden. That’s why some teenagers smoke, but quit when they’re in their 20’s. People bought EBRs and then they realized that not only were they not as dangerous as they were made out to be, but they were fun to shoot! “Shooting is fun! Let’s find out what else is fun to shoot! Let’s tell our friends! Let’s bring our girlfriends!” Now, it’s not only acceptable, but it’s kinda cool. And it helps that guns are fully customizable nowadays.

  • Dustin

    While there is much to debate about open vs concealed carry, one of the advantages of concealed is that in large areas (especially the cities) of America people have a tendency to call the cops on people carrying weapons who are not also wearing a police uniform. At best this is a waste of yours and the police’s time, and should be avoided.

  • Jesse

    When I lived in PA I got my CCW as soon as I turned 21 and I was waiting in line at the sheriffs office there was about a dozen other people in line and 8 of them were women. I asked the Sheriff is that’s normal and he said more women than men have permits in that county and that I’d be shocked to know how many women in this county carry.

  • Lance

    Thats good if more and more join us we can stop the ant-gun movement. I thin thats why the last deacade was so good for gun owners is that gun culture has changed.

  • Pete


    In a lot of places openly carrying a firearm can get you slammed down into the pavement by a LEO even if it is legal.

    Or Texas where it is illegal to open carry, CCW is the only choice.

  • Andrew

    I always thought that concealment in the modern age was less about hiding than fitting in, or rather not standing out. Carrying concealed allows you to exercise your rights while at the same time being “normal”. Normal is convenient, and convenience is king. Politics tend to travel the path of least resistance.

  • Maigo

    We just need more liberals, it’s lonely

  • Cymond

    Carl, many of us don’t live in societies where firearms are generally accepted or known. Ignorance is rampant. For example, many self-described pro-gun people do not know that suppressors/silencers are restricted, not illegal.

    My stepfather recently told me a story about my hometown. I heard a story recently. Several years ago, before my state’s concealed-carry reform, a man on the west side of town owned/operated a video store. After several robberies, he started carrying a handgun openly. He had to walk through a bad part of town every night with a large amount of cash to drop it in the bank’s night deposit box. He carried his handgun openly along the way. The police stopped him and questioned him for at least half an hour every evening until he stopped carrying his handgun.

    There there’s cases like this one: Essentially, police have arrested a man for openly carrying a handgun. It took a court battle before police returned his handgun to him, despite no crime commited. The Attorney General issued a statement that open carry is legal in Wisconsin, but the police still respond to calls about openly carried firearms. Further, the police chief instructed his officers to continue to “put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide if the person has a right to carry it” despite the AG’s statement.

    Of course, we also have to deal with social stigma. People see a gun in civilian hands and the hide, scream, call the cops, shield their children, etc. Both of the police visits in the above news story resulted from citizens calling the cops in a panic. Bold store managers will often ask a gun-carrying customer to leave, while more timid managers will probably just call the cops. I can understand the desire to boycott any store that doesn’t support RKBA, but remember that these managers are only responding to their customers’ desires. Again, back to social stigma on a macro scale.

    Finally, there is the issue of becoming a target for would-be criminals. The element of surprise is very valuable. In an open-carry society, a timid thief can see who is defenseless, and a bold thief knows whose skull to crush with a lead pipe from behind. A spree shooter (V-tech, Columbine, Ft Hood, etc) knows who to kill first.

  • Thanks for the heads up and link!

    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
    AGI AR15 Armorers Course Review

  • Carl

    Good points on carry from all around. I realize there are substantial risks and drawbacks with carrying openly, mostly because of, as you put it, social stigma, even if it is legal.

    However, there is no doubt that it is the right thing to do if you are interested in promoting RKBA (assuming it is legal, of course).

    Consider the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    A police chief that instructs his officers to attack innocents should be fired and made an example of (in court). Dispatchers who send cops to investigate frivolous “man with a holstered gun” calls should be fired also.

    I don’t think the scenario with the aggressor choosing to ambush the open carrier first is very realistic. I think it is more likely they would simply cancel or postpone their criminal activity until they find an environment where nobody is seen to be armed.

    Spree shootings where OC is legal and practiced seems like a very unlikely proposition. It will be very difficult to achieve their goal, which is a high body count, if people have a chance to shoot back.

  • Redchrome

    As an anecdote (remember that the plural of anecdote is not data), I know someone who is a jeweler, and open-carries at craft shows and other events where he sells jewelry. He says that he used to have an item stolen from his table about once every other week. Since he’s been open-carrying, he hasn’t had *any* thefts.

    This episode of his podcast has his story about almost being robbed (whereupon he displayed his pistol); and open carrying.