How Accepting a Job at an Ammo Manufacturer Challenged My Perspective on Firearms

Thirty-one percent of the American population has never shot a firearm, and until February of this year, I belonged within that percentage. Growing up in a small Alabama town, shooting guns at the range (or on someone’s farmland for that matter) was a typical weekend activity for many of my childhood acquaintances, but not for me. Aside from disinterest, my family did not harbor any particular contempt towards firearms necessarily, but the tragic stories of accidental fire were enough to keep us out of the gun shop altogether. Until January of this year, with those stories looming in the back of my mind, my perspective on firearms was this: they are dangerous and I do not need one.

Being restless in my young career and having never moved more than half an hour away from my small Alabama town, I took the biggest risk of my career so far: I accepted a marketing job, out of state, at a small arms ammunition manufacturer, all while googling what “small arms” meant. This risk turned into an adventure I never anticipated and a learning experience that has challenged many aspects of my perspective on firearms.

I dove into the deep end when I was sent to Las Vegas on my fourth day of work to assist at SHOT Show 2022 (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show), the largest annual firearm industry trade show in the United States. Still understanding very little about firearms, much less ammunition, I showed up to the Norma booth ready to smile and wave, but instead spoke to potential dealers and industry professionals. By the end of the show, I conversed with thousands of people, from all different lifestyles and shooting disciplines and came away crediting the experience with my surprising newfound interest in firearms.

Three weeks later, I was faced with the inevitable: shooting a firearm for the first time. Although I was eager to witness our products in action, I was dreading the moment I would actually discharge a firearm myself. So there I was, at a local outdoor shooting range somewhere in Statesboro, Georgia, standing ten yards away from fifteen steel targets, with a .45 Auto 1911 pistol in my right hand, loaded up with Norma MHP (Monolithic Hollow Point). Raising the pistol and positioning my grip, I squinted my left eye shut and lined up the notches on the iron sight. With my right pointer finger still straight, I focused in on the center of the first target, and slowly brought my finger down to hug the trigger. I squeezed.

The sound was jarring; even with my ear protection. My wrists were not expecting the shock from the recoil and I missed the target completely. I aimed again, this time keeping both eyes open. I squeezed the trigger again. Missed. My fellow marketing colleagues, standing behind me at the safe table, noticed I was anticipating the recoil of the pistol causing me to move the gun slightly before pulling the trigger, causing the projectile to go down and to the left. After attempting several more times, I squeezed the trigger once again and finally heard the satisfying “ping” of the projectile striking the steel target. By the end of that range day, I shot a 9mm pistol, an AR-15, and a shotgun, and surprisingly enough, I had a great time.

Months after my first time shooting, I still very much consider myself a beginner, however, my anxiety around firearms has dissipated immensely. Aside from SHOT Show in Las Vegas, my unique experience into the industry placed me in unanticipated adventures such as the everglades of South Florida hunting iguanas and in Houston for my first NRA Annual Meeting. Now in September, my perspective on firearms is this: understanding how to use a firearm safely is a valuable life skill and, based on my experience thus far, education is the best solution for easing anxieties surrounding firearms. So I tell you all this to extend my invitation to you to join me on my newfound adventure, as I navigate through the world of firearms.

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