Originally published in the May 2018 Official Journals of the National Rifle Association
May has been designated NRA Mentor Initiative month. The NRA, with support from the firearm industry, has designed a initiative with a very simple objective; we are calling on each of our 5-million-and-growing NRA members—and everyone else in the firearm community—to find someone who has never fired a firearm before, take them to the range and help them put their first rounds on target.
There’s no better way to inform Americans on the Second Amendment than to provide a positive, first-hand experience. It’s been my experience that within minutes of the safety briefing, a lesson on marksmanship and the first pull of the trigger, all of the preconceived notions and media-fueled biases melt away, leaving only an excited smile and a desire for more.
Whether your newcomer ultimately joins the firearm community or simply walks away more informed, he or she will have left learning some invaluable lessons—not the least of which is gun safety. I would also hope the next time they hear a discussion regarding firearms, gun rights or gun owners that doesn’t relate with their own, first-hand experience, they will be much more likely to see and call out bogus information for what it is. Perhaps more importantly, they will be inclined to speak up and set the record straight for those less informed.
It’s often said, “A lie will make its way around the globe before the truth can get its boots laced up.” Sadly, plenty of media outlets are happy to give globe-trotting untruths a free ride. Each and every person who knows the facts can serve as a stoplight, allowing enough time for the truth about firearms and gun owners to catch up.
The benefits of mentorship don’t end there. Serving as a mentor is also a great refresher course in gun safety and marksmanship for yourself. Plus, you’re doing your part to improve public safety. A more knowledgeable firearm owner in a community makes a positive overall difference to everyone’s safety.
This mentoring initative is an extention of NRA’s founding principles—providing gun safety, training and education to all Americans. By becoming a mentor, you get to introduce the training process to a newcomer. While we advise all new shooters to train with NRA Certified Instructors, we recognize that many people are more comfortable getting started with a knowledgeable friend or loved one.
This mentorship effort reminds me of a question I sometimes hear, “What is the NRA doing for me today?” I challenge you to ask yourself, “What am I doing for the Second Amendment and America?” I suggest you can do something for America, for our treasured Second Amendment today after you finish reading this. You can get up, make a phone call and take your niece, nephew, neighbor, grandson, granddaughter or friend to the shooting range.
It’s encumbent on all of us to be chief ambassadors for the Second Amendment and to ensure its viability for generations to come. It’s no secret, more and more young Americans grow up in urban environments void of family and friends to teach them about responsible firearm ownership. Frighteningly, more and more young Americans are learning about guns from television news stories, movies, video games or newspaper headlines. The best way to counteract misinformation gained from any of these sources is to help people learn the truth through first-hand experiences.
We’ve all had mentors in life. Virtually all of us owe our successes to the critical guidance of at least a handful of people. We remember those people; we hold them in high regard, and in many ways we emulate them in our everyday lives. This is your opportunity to be that person for someone else.
Do your part to keep our communities safer, to keep our kids on the right track and to forever secure our precious Second Amendment.
Become a mentor.
To help you get started as a mentor, I encourage you to visit nrapublications.org/mentor to download a free copy of the NRA’s “A Guide for New Shooters.”