So, you picked up a couple of sponsors, somebody gave you a jersey and all of a sudden you find people notice you. It sounds great but there are a few things you should know. I pride myself on being very honest, so here are my observations, I hope they help you.
- You make a lot of new friends: Connecting with like-minded people is always a plus in my book. You make new friendships, connect with shooters from all over the world, and share information and common interests. I love my shooting friends!
- You learn a lot: Truth is, I have picked up a lot of tips and shooting advice along the way. I am notoriously bad about practicing – I just don’t do it because I prefer to save my ammo for matches (it’s an expensive hobby, you know). But, I am making an attempt to implement advice I have received from other shooters and just try out new things during our local matches.
- You inspire people: This is one of my primary reasons for sharing my journey into this amazing hobby – attracting “regular people” to the practical shooting sports. It has been such a joy for me and has enriched my life in so many ways that I am humbled I get to inspire others to try it. Here are my Top 10 Reasons to Try Competition Shooting.
- You make a difference. We all know how heated the political debate over the 2nd Amendment is. While this blog is intended as a fun resource, I really believe that it fosters understanding and educates the general population on the safe practice of recreational & competitive shooting. As Nelson Mandela said: “Education it the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Now, I’m far from changing the world, but to an extent we all try…
- People encourage you: Lots of people will appreciate your efforts and inspire you to keep doing what you enjoy. I have received so many positive messages & emails and I cannot express how grateful I am because it is not easy to put yourself out there. Everyone needs a pat on the back, a friendly smile or some help.
- You become stronger: When you expose yourself to public opinions, you learn to develop a thicker skin and concentrate on what’s really important in life. Criticism is part of our daily experiences and unless you learn to deal with it, you’ll go crazy! I take constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve myself but don’t let it get to me. This helps “toughen you up.”
- Men respect you more: If you are a lady shooter, you will notice that men (on the range and off) respect you more if they know you’re good with your weapons. All I have to say is: Amen, sisters!
- You get opportunities. One of the advantages of people noticing you is that you get invited to do things you otherwise wouldn’t consider. Here lately I have been invited to so many fun shooting events, participated in shooter support groups, and have been featured in a few publications. While this has never been a goal, it makes my mom proud so I try to do all I can. :)
- Expectations rise: Just because you are learning in a public way, people expect you to get better faster. That is not the case, folks! You have to put your time in to become a good shooter –ask anybody! I have improved tremendously since I started but I am not “great”, nor do I claim to be. I am really trying as much as my schedule permits but people can be very critical. Now, this could be a good thing because it pushes you but I also try to remember that this is just a hobby and above all it is about having fun.
- It takes a lot of your time: I have the tendency to pile up a lot on my plate. I work full time as a business analyst, my career is very important to me. I am also a wife & a mother so in between business meetings, Girl Scout outings, household chores, and my hobby – there is not much time left. If you start getting noticed, be prepared to dedicate some time to being responsive to the kind people who contact you. Unfortunately, that takes time away from other recreational activities such as sipping a martini by the pool…
- You will face jealousy: Now, I’m not really sure if some people think there are that many perks about being “sponsored” or they just feel they are better/more deserving than you, but you may face that uneasy feeling that all of a sudden some of them just hate your guts. First of all – let me clarify – unless you are doing this professionally and get paid, being “sponsored” simply means you may receive products from your supporters. I personally have very specific tastes so I only support products that are absolutely A-mazing! I am extremely grateful for the help I receive but honestly don’t understand how a couple of guns and some free gear can alienate certain “friends”. But it does so be prepared!
- You may get stalkers: It really blows my mind that anyone has interest in being my “fan”. While it will definitely boost your confidence and make you feel incredible, be prepared to receive interesting propositions. Some are just funny & kind, while others may be inappropriate or plain old creepy. I guess it’s part of it so my advice is – be gracious and polite but firm. Trust me, you don’t want to recreate a scene from “The Fan”, lol.
- You may get threats: It really happens rarely to me but I have received a couple of very disturbing messages from radical gun control proponents. I was shocked because I am a very empathetic person and really try to understand everyone’s point of view. But some people are just violent, ignorant or both. I received some great advice from Janna Reeves – report creepers, block them & move on. You should too!
These are just some of the things I have learned in my journey as a shooting hobbyist. I have received some great advice from other shooters and wanted to share an honest overview of what it’s like to make your experiences public. Obviously, the Good outweighs the Bad vastly so if you are in similar situation – keep doing what you’re doing, enjoy yourself, and concentrate on the positive!
Your friendly neighborhood gun lady,