The firearms industry is one that might not be the first to your mind as an area of American industry that holds great job opportunities for young people...But I’m going to share why employment in a job that involves firearms in some capacity is a positive for young people.
This year, my eldest son Tim who is 19 has worked instructing in pistol and carbine courses in Utah with Tactical Performance Center. Not only has he taught competition shooters, but also brand new shooters, law enforcement and military. While some kids get a job at their local Dairy Queen, there are jobs out there that can help a youth grow not just his or her bank account, but skills with people and situations that most young people won’t ever have to tackle.
Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range in St. George, UT, where Tactical Performance Center primarily holds their classes, is full of young people who staff one of the most active ranges in the country. Many of the young instructors are national and world-ranked competition shooters who also travel to instruct...seeing the country while working with firearms is a real part of their job!
Several of our family friends have teenagers who work as range officers at matches or helping run a commercial range. These young people are responsible for the safety of the staff, the patrons and surrounding communities. It’s a responsibility that they take seriously, and grow from. Jobs with firearms are always very serious and very safety-oriented. Monitoring who is present on the range, interacting with the staff and patrons using the facilities, and helping to run events are some of the activities that youth who work on the range are responsible for. They learn to take charge and command respect.
I’ve seen one friend’s son really flourish in this role. He’s faced situations where he has been the acting staff member upholding rules and decisions that most young people would delegate to a “grown up.” Even jobs like a lifeguard have a supervisor...but working on a range, the decisions have to be clear and correct. You might not have time to call a supervisor, and you need to make decisions for the safety of others and see them upheld. Learning to make sound judgement calls and stand by them is something many adults are not even comfortable with. Enabling young people to operate with that level of responsibility is an extremely valuable life lesson.
Other areas I’ve seen young people excel with firearms is in sharing their enthusiasm via social media. One young girl I know had such a small stature when she began shooting. The juxtaposition of her size, paired with her very safe and competent gun-handling skills, brought people who otherwise might have thought themselves too small/weak/incapable to see themselves in a different light. They told themselves that if a 12 year old girl could run an inertia shotgun, certainly an adult could! Her job with firearms has involved motivating others to embrace challenges. She’s taken that role of motivating others into a role on NRA competitions committee.
Personally, my work with firearms started when I was a teenager working drilling peep sights for M1 Garand and M1A rifles on a lathe in Krieger Barrels shop. As I stayed involved in competitions into adulthood, my work with firearms now centers around both teaching and sharing what our family does with others. There often are misconceptions about who can shoot competitions or master information about firearms. And one of my goals with sharing what our family does is to help change that. To change perceptions about who can know meaningful information when it comes to firearms.
One of my first experiences at a match that really drove this home for me was with another female who tried to sort of call me out because I nodded my head in understanding about something an older shooter said in a clinic. She didn’t know my background or story, she just made assumptions. But women shouldn’t be bullied into feeling like they can’t share what they love. And women should welcome others, especially other women.
My childhood and adolescence were so full of firearms with my dad’s gunsmith shop in the basement. Tools like rifle “go” and “no-go” gauges, calipers, reamers, reloading equipment, etc., were a part of daily life. I want to see other women as comfortable talking about firearms with the people they meet as I am. I want to see women and young people believe in their ability to understand the mechanical side of firearms and to share their understanding with others.
My middle son wants to work in some capacity with firearms and developing technologies in them. I love to see his genuine curiosity and joy in what makes guns work. Sharing that joy and curiosity is an important part of gun ownership. Working with firearms is a great way to share that.
So share what you do with firearms with your family, especially your kids. Take them shooting, take them hunting, let them help you clean guns under your supervision. Who knows, maybe you have the next John Moses Browning peeking at your workbench while you clean grandpa’s shotgun...nurture that! Put that curiosity to work, and share what you love.
For more ideas on ways to involve your whole family in activities with firearms, make sure you check out Winchester’s social media channels for more hunting and shooting tips and updates on Winchester supported events and promotions on Facebook, You Tube, Instagram and Twitter.