A commenter from the previous post questioned whether America is still a nation of riflemen and if most modern Americans have an aversion to the hard work it takes to become skilled in the use of the rifle. I’ve noticed that what seems to count as marksmanship training these days is to spend money on equipment. I would be interested to know what the ratio is of people with sub-moa rifles to people who can reliably hit a paper plate offhand at 100 yards. It’s a shame to have all that nice gear out there with no one who knows how to use it.
There are probably several societal factors involved in the decline of marksmanship. Marketing dominates over honesty. Actors are elevated over the real people they play. Needs are not understood because wants are so easily fulfilled. Handouts are advertised while hard work is derided. Specialists flourish in the absence of common sense. We have, as a nation, lost our hunger and drive, and lack substance of character. I hear or say on a daily basis that the world is upside down, and I believe that it’s true.
Is it possible that less is better? Was my grandpa any worse off for having just a 30-06? I don’t think he worried too much about brand or style. He was more concerned with taking it in the woods and doing stuff with it. Likewise, our forefathers probably didn’t have the luxury of acquiring a collection. They were too busy working with what they had doing real stuff that needed to be done.
Consider the professionals who use firearms in the course of their day. In fact, consider only the top 1% of those people. Most are issued a standard piece and trained to use it. Is it the specific make or model that makes them so good? I would guess that it’s all the hard work that makes them so good. The piece itself is just a means to an end.
Work is the essence of the acquisition of skill. We are taught from almost the beginning that sugar is pleasant, TV is pleasant, fitting in is pleasant, prizes are pleasant, but work is most decidedly unpleasant (and that old people are stupid and backwards). We all realize on some level that to get good at shooting we will need to work, but I think we put that off while maintaining a holding pattern in “preparation mode”. “How can I get started if I don’t even have the stuff I need to do it with? ” After “stuff” is acquired, we learn that the stuff we have is not good enough. Then we get more and better stuff, and learn that it won’t do for X application. Then new stuff comes out, making the old stuff obsolete. It’s easy to play this game, because so much stuff is available, and honestly, it’s fun to get stuff.
What would you do if you really had to get something done with inadequate resources and your life depended on it? I think that you would find a way to accomplish what you needed to accomplish. We treat our shooting equipment as a plethora of specialized tools, similar to the way we treat information and opinions as worthy only if they are the product of some PhD “expert”.
In the past, a man with common sense was capable of accomplishing all the necessities of life through the application of hard work and common sense. There weren’t a lot of experts, and they didn’t seem to need them. When a person with initiative and common sense meets a new problem, he can generally work his way through it (probably even without Google). When a group of experts get together to solve a problem, they create a blue ribbon panel to discuss it a lot. Then they figure out how to acquire funding to serve their own ends while not solving the problem, and perhaps making it worse.
Working on the fundamentals of marksmanship creates the equivalent of common sense in a shooter. Through this work, the shooter will understand his own strengths and weaknesses. He will learn how to use what he has to full effect, rather than be intimidated that it may not be the best. He will learn to apply the fundamentals in response to unfamiliar situations. He will actually be capable of doing something instead of just impotently possessing things.
I can’t speak as someone who is immune to the problems we face, but hopefully I can take my own advice. At some point maybe we’ll realize that we’re chasing our tails instead of going after something worthy of pursuit. Thanks for reading.