At every range, shooters from the following list of archetypes can be found. The more you think about it, the more you will realize you have seen these people. The question is, which one are you?
- Grampa and Cody
- The Range Nazi
- The Tea Drinking Man.
- Jesse and Jamie.
- The Paramilitary Poseur
- The Man in Tac-Black
- The Punk-Ass Amateur
- The Idiot Girlfriend.
- The Homie
- The Recreationist
- The Guest
- The IPSC Weiner
- The Hippie.
1. Grampa and Cody
Typically an older white guy and his sniveling grandchild (or similar junior relation). Grampa is trying to teach Cody (or Jody, or Brody, or whatever crap name the kid has) how to shoot with a 1950’s era Lakefield or Cooey .22 rifle and an empty tin can lying 10m away on the ground. Cody’s soccer mom and sensitive new-age dad aren’t too keen on this idea, but the old man overruled them. Claimed they were coddling the little brat (true) and this will be a valuable experience (doubtful). Grampa smells of rye and seems a little unsteady on his feet, and insists on holding forth about his views on how a) kids today are all idiots, b) how much better things were in the old days, c) the evils of Communism, or d) the proper place of a woman. He occasionally interrupts his diatribe to yell such helpful advice as “squeeze the trigger, dammit! Like I showed you!” without ever having bothered to explain to Cody how iron sights work. Will grudgingly dole out one round at a time from his pocket, with instructions not to waste it. In the 30’s (or whenever the ancient bastard grew up) people only made 23¢ a year and couldn’t afford to miss a shot, or they’d catch The Polio. Cody, for his part, couldn’t hit the ground with a handful of thrown rice, is close to tears, and wishes he were at home with his XBox.
2. The Range Nazi
Annoying, but basically harmless, the sole reason for existence of the Range Nazi is sucking all the fun out of shooting. Will arrive at the range with a single antiquated rifle in a calibre nobody shoots anymore, such as .32-20. Will set up a number of bullseye (never human or animal) targets at the 100m point, but does not shoot at them. Instead the Range Nazi will walk up and down the line, questioning others about the legality of their firearms, tut-tutting over the use of human silhouette targets, appointing himself boss of the range safety light, and making note of anybody being even the slightest bit unsafe(!). He will then be sure to bring up the unsafe people he witnessed being unsafe in an unsafely unsafe manner (did we mention they were unsafe?) at the next range membership meeting. Hopes to get everybody he disapproves of (which is everybody) kicked out of the range. Only then will it be safe, and only then will nobody behave in a manner certain to reflect discredit upon the range and shooting in general. Cringes every time a firearm is referred to as a weapon, as if somehow an anti-gun lobbyist will hear it and yell “Ah ha! Ban them! Ban them all!”. Has the phone number of every member of the range executive committee on his speed dial. Despite his intrusive ways, the Range Nazi will generally piss off when told to do so.
3. The Tea Drinking Man.
Arrives 5 minutes after the range opens, and won’t leave until it closes. Takes five trips to unload all his gear from his Buick Riviera (or similar old-fart-mobile), yet only brought two guns. Shooting routine consists of the following: Painstakingly selects a single round of ammo. Unloads it and puts it back in box. Adjusts scope. Has a drink of tea from thermos. Selects a different round of ammo. Loads into rifle. Sights in on target. Consults shooting log. Takes round out. Has drink of tea. Falls asleep. Wakes up. Adjusts sight again. And so on and so on… May or may not actually fire within the hour. Rarely makes it through more than ten rounds before the range closes for the day. Becomes annoyed when other shooters a) disturb his concentration (or napping) with the sound of their firing, b) request cease-fires to change targets that are shot out (a concept foreign to him), or c) check him for a pulse occasionally. Has been a member of the range since longbows were considered assault weapons, and is still working on the same box of ammo. When not at the range, can be found at the local gun store engaging the counter staff in hours of meandering conversation about nothing in particular.
4. Jesse and Jamie.
These are the two, for lack of a better term, rednecks. Will show up driving a full size diesel pickup that cost more than their doublewide trailer. Due to gender-ambiguous names, it is certain you will confuse who is who, and use the wrong name in conversation. Jesse (or Jamie, it depends) is down about the mill laying him off again. He’s pretty sure foreigners of some sort are responsible, and is waiting for his unemployment to kick in. Until then they subsist on Jamie’s (or Jesse’s) earnings as a hairdresser. Listen to both kinds of music, country and western. Truck will have at least one kerchief-wearing dog in the back named “Buddy”. Eager to compare a) hunting knives, b) belt buckle sizes, c) brands of chewing tobacco, d) line dancing steps or e) recipes that start with “take a side of beef…”. Shoot his and hers lever action rifles, and believe that any calibre less than a .30-30 is unmanly, while anything bigger is wasteful. Guns will be stored in vinyl gun socks from Target (if they’re over 40) or Walmart (if they’re young ‘uns). Optics, if any, will be of no more than 4x magnification and look as if they were used to hammer in nails at some point. Like to talk about how good it will be once the season starts and they have the opportunity to fill up their spare freezers. Dress almost exclusively in plaid jackets and jeans, but each has a set of “formal” cowboy boots at home for special occasions. Instinctively distrust the government, and wonder whatever happened to Preston Manning.
5. The Paramilitary Poseur
Difficult to actually see at the range due to the camouflage and SWAT gear he is wearing. Generally at least 20kg overweight, the Paramilitary Poseur is the ultimate expression of the suburban commando. Eager to discuss the best type of ammunition to use against marauding feminist ninja bank robbers or armor-plated bears. Loves to drop cryptic references to his past life as an Airborne Special Forces Delta-SEAL, which he can’t go into detail about “for security reasons”. Note: this person has never been in the military or the police. He’s most likely a mailman or a mall security guard; any job where he gets a uniform, but which doesn’t require too much hard work or talent. Claims to be a master of some arcane martial art nobody has ever heard of, like “Krav Jitsu Fu. Could kill you just by staring at you really hard. Weapons of the Poseur will generally have all sorts of “tactical” accessories added to them, effectively tripling their price and mass without doing anything to improve his shooting. Has strong opinions on the .338 Lapua vs. .408 Chey-Tac debate, despite never having fired either. Will own at least one SKS made up to look like a Dragunov, and a “sniper rifle” that turns out to be a hunting rifle with the biggest scope one can get (for under $100) mounted on it. Shooting bag will contain a) back issues of Soldier of Fortune, b) a really big knife with teeth up the back, c) 10 rounds of military surplus 5.56mm FMJ that he bought at a gun show, and d) a 1970’s vintage Soviet night vision scope that won’t mount on anything he owns.
6. The Man in Tac-Black
A rare sight at civilian ranges, but easy to spot once he’s there. Generally arrives in a 4×4 straight out of Mad Max, or a Crown Victoria with poorly-concealed lights in the grille. May or may not have a moustache reminiscent of a gay porn star, but will have a very short haircut. Weapons are generally black, scary looking, and numerous. Can easily fill a rack with what he brought just to do some informal plinking with. The envy of the Paramilitary Poseur and the sworn nemesis of the IPSC wiener. Insists on lying in the dirt in the prone position instead of using the shooting bench like a reasonable human being. Gets confused when not everybody is shooting the same type of weapon and serial as he is. May even begin what he calls a “run down” without warning, so be wary. Shooting bag will contain a) the Dropzone PSP catalogue, b) a bayonet for at least one of his rifles, c) hundreds of rounds of 5.56mm FMJ he stole from work, and d) a number of 30 round magazines that have been pinned to 30 rounds. Takes pride in hitting targets that others can barely see, but becomes bored easily and will often try to use a shotgun or even a pistol for targets at long range. Quick to recognize others of his own kind and engage in the arcane ritual of “who-do-you-know-and-where-have-you-been”. Also has strong opinions on the .338 Lapua vs. .408 Chey-Tac debate, having fired both. Doesn’t flinch when firing, or when those around him fire. May, in fact, be stone deaf.
7. The Punk-Ass Amateur
A common sight at most ranges, a danger to himself and everyone around him, but blissfully unaware of the fact. Arrives at the range in a small import car, which bottoms out two or three times on the rough access road. Weapons will be made by Norinco or Hi-Point, as they cost less than anything else and he really doesn’t know any better. Barrel may still be full of the original packing grease, as “weapons maintenance” is a foreign concept to him. Targetry will consist of pieces of the cardboard box the weapon came in with hand-drawn circles on them. Fires off 40 rounds of ammo bought at local store (for full price) as quickly as possible. Fond of such effective shooting positions as the “from the hip”, the “close my eyes and flinch every time I fire” and the ever-popular “try to hold the rifle one-handed like a pistol”. Won’t hit a thing and doesn’t care; he’s there to bust caps and socialize. Once out of ammo, will roam about the range examining other shooters’ weapons and looking hopeful in the off chance they let him try one. Often accompanied by Idiot Girlfriend.
8. The Idiot Girlfriend.
Usually found in the company of the Punk-Ass Amateur. Typically between the ages of 18 and 26, the Idiot Girlfriend doesn’t like the range, but wants to ensure her boyfriend isn’t involved in any activity that doesn’t include her. Arrives woefully unprepared for the range, with no water, unsuitable clothing, and often no hearing protection. Will, however, have flawless makeup. After a period not exceeding 20 minutes, will immediately begin complaining about a) how hot it is, b) how cold it is, c) the lack of washrooms, d) the condition of any washrooms there happen to be, or e) the noise. If she isn’t the centre of attention when she first arrives, she will make it her business to be. A drama queen at heart, she will resort to pouting, whining, stamping her little feet and locking herself in the car if she believes her boyfriend is more interested in shooting than in her plight of discomfort. Rarely seen actually firing, but will try it if the gun seems cute or non-threatening enough. Likes .22’s due to the low recoil and quiet report. Not a fan of the .338 Winchester magnum, for obvious reasons. In the off chance she fires something with even the slightest bit of recoil, she will immediately begin a display of overacted injury normally reserved for World Cup matches.
9. The Homie
Formerly considered a sub-variant of the Punk-Ass Amateur, the Homie has been sighted in sufficient numbers to grant him his own category. His arrival will be heralded by the booming bass coming from a stereo more powerful than the car he put it in. Drives a blinged-out import car or a lowered SUV, anything that would look at home in “The Fast and the Furious”. Like the Punk-Ass Amateur, will bottom out two or three times on the poor road leading to the range. Weapons will generally match his vehicle for sheer tackiness and lack of practicality. If he has the money he will own a Desert Eagle, in .50 calibre, with a gold chrome finish. Will definitely have a Glock 9mm, as it is what all his heroes on MTV carry. Actually thinks shooting with the weapon canted 90 degrees to the left is effective; cannot understand why the ejected brass keeps hitting him in the face. Dress of the Homie is distinctive and usually follows a theme of a ludicrously oversized track suit, lots of chunky 8-karat gold chains, designer sunglasses that cost more than his guns, and a particularly offensive cologne he applies with a cropduster. Likes to speak in ebonics and flash gang signs. Parents are tax attorneys and live in a gated community. Would likely wet himself if ever confronted by real gangsters.
10. The Recreationist
A strange breed, the Recreationist likes to travel in packs. Dressed in a costume made up of at least four kinds of animal skin and wearing a hat with a tail hanging from it, the Recreationist loves to pretend he lives in the time of the frontier. This applies to his firearms, personal gear, and hygiene when in character, unfortunately. Prefers to be called by some self-applied moniker like “Mountain Mike” or “Raccoon-eating Dave” instead of his real name. Owns a $6000 handcrafted Italian reproduction blackpowder musket and a custom belt knife that cost more than a used motorcycle. Spent three years and thousands of dollars researching his outfit for authenticity; still looks like a hobo. Has never slept outside a night in his life, and takes 4 different medications for allergies. The Recreationist loves to use period slang, often saying things like “varmint” or “dadgummit”, believing this makes him more authentic. May occasionally become confused and throw in a “Get thee hence” or “Zounds!” for good measure. Has nothing but disdain for newfangled weapons, “newfangled” indicating anything capable of firing more than one aimed shot in a minute. Loves to engage in staged duels with others of his own kind, as he is an actor at heart. Once “shot” will begin a 10-minute death scene worthy of Sir Laurence Olivier… or the Idiot Girlfriend. Arrived at the range in a BMW 740i with onboard GPS navigation and a car fax.
11. The Guest
The Guest, as the title implies, is not actually a member of the range, and does not own any guns. They’re just somebody who got invited to come along by one of the other archetypes. Guests will generally just stand quietly and not touch anything until invited to do so, but some are prone to know-it-all-ism, and have the bad habit of thinking they actually have some sort of skills with firearms based on their extensive combined CounterStrike experience and collection of action movies. The quiet guest will gamely try anything he is handed, so the temptation to hand him the hardest kicking rifle you own and then tell him to put his eye “right up on the scope” must be avoided. Initially leery of firearms, the guest will usually quickly overcome their fears, make the obligatory “it doesn’t sound like that on TV” comments, and settle into some good supervised fun. The obnoxious guest will immediately make his way to the rifle rack, select the most visually impressive weapon, assure onlookers that he requires no help, and then spend 10 minutes trying to figure out how to chamber a round. Quiet guests may become a regular fixture and eventually become shooters themselves. Obnoxious ones are seldom invited back.
12. The IPSC Weiner
Loves to congregate with others of his own kind and take over entire ranges for days at a time so he can play gunfighter. Will construct entire towns out of plywood and cardboard in order to shoot for one afternoon. Owns a custom racegun worth more than the car he arrived in. Likes to dress in obnoxiously coloured clothes with firearms manufacturers’ logos prominently displayed on them in hopes others will think he’s sponsored. He isn’t. The mortal enemy of the Man in Tac-Black, due to an ancient dispute over the definition of practical shooting. Engages in “realistic” combat shooting scenarios such as being seated on a toilet while wearing a holstered handgun, and suddenly having to dispatch two armed terrorists who broke into his bathroom. Will collect your ejected brass before it has a chance to bounce, whether he shoots that calibre or not. Likes to work into conversation the number of dubious shooting academies he’s attended, and name drop any quasi-celebrity IPSC shooters he knows in order to impress others. Doesn’t work. Hates being confronted by questions like “just how practical is a pistol that falls out of the holster, fires if you even look at it dirty, and requires 60 hours of maintenance a week?” or “what kind of lunatic would immediately holster his pistol and yell ‘clear’ at a stopwatch-wielding bystander in a real gunfight?”, or the dreaded “wouldn’t a shotgun be more effective?”.
13. The Hippie.
A rarity at most ranges, the Hippie is usually an acquaintance of a shooter who has been brought to the range after shooting their mouth off about guns one too many times. Could be considered an offshoot of the Guest, but is different in that they have no interest in shooting for shooting’s sake; they’re looking for further evidence to support their patchouli-soaked and generally worthless opinions. Ironically, will arrive clad in more army surplus than the Paramilitary Poseur. Hippies will claim this is done to make an ironic social commentary, but the truth is that camouflage is less likely to show stains, and they can’t afford real clothes. Will comment about the “negative energy” coming off the guns, but rest assured, your firearms are not generating an ionic discharge. They are referring to the “aura” that a non-organic, inanimate object inexplicably possesses. More likely witnessing an acid flashback, or possibly hallucinating out of hunger due to all-tofu diet. Will try firing, only after wondering aloud why anyone needs guns, and inquiring as to how many children you’ve shot at. Do not let the Hippie fire from anything but a supported position, as they will certainly scream and drop your weapon sights-down onto the concrete. This is an excellent way to convert a precision rifle scope into a hollow black tube. After firing a minimum of rounds, and picking up an “idiot cut” along the way, the Hippie will leave, never to return. They will, however, now feel free to consider themselves an expert on firearms.