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Gun range lessons

Kaitlyn Rabach | Sunday, April 14, 2013

Last Thursday, I stepped far out of my comfort zone and went to a gun range for the first time. In fact, I went to two gun ranges within a four hour period.
This was not just a random visit. I had a purpose. My anthropology class requires students to pick a site and compose a short ethnography about it. With everything going on in the United States right now regarding gun rights, I thought it would be an interesting place to observe. This interest then led me to the Kodiak Gun Range in South Bend and the Midwest Gun and Range in Elkhart, In.
Going in, and even now, I have pretty strong opinions on gun legislation and proudly support President Barack Obama’s proposed legislation regarding the issue. However, to observe these sites I had to put my opinions aside and really dive into the atmosphere of the range.
It turns out the observations I was able to make were just fascinating. All of my preconceived notions of the range were quickly proven to be inaccurate.
First off, I really did not think I would see many women in the shooting lanes. To my surprise, women not only occupied the majority of the shooting lanes but were actually behind the counter selling guns and offering shooting advice.
The manager said the gun range has become a prime location for couples’ date nights. Again, with my limited knowledge on weaponry and gun ranges, I never would have thought the range would be a social place, but it turns out it can be.
Kodiak Gun Range had a decent-sized lounge room where shooters could socialize while watching others shoot. The vibrant atmosphere in this lounge completely shattered my other theory about gun ranges. Before, I imagined them to be very stuffy places where customers had little to no interaction with each other. Well, it turns out gun ranges can actually be “family friendly.”
The staff at both ranges was also very friendly. At Kodiak, the manager was more than willing to answer my questions and even offered me a free gun safety course. After the free tutorial, he even brought me to the different types of ranges and let me shoot a couple of rounds.
Shooting a handgun may not have been something on my bucket list beforehand, but now I can check it off.
I will continue to support legislation for universal background checks, renewing the assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines. However, now my support will not be strictly based off of news articles, political experts and so forth. Now, I have personally seen how shooting ranges and owning guns have become an integral part of some lives. These visits not only pushed me out of my comfort zone, but allowed me to gain a different perspective on the gun debate.