This weekend I decided to take my dog out to the Daniel Boone National Forest and just enjoy the warm sunny day. After spending a couple of hours letting my dog play in the water and climb around on the rocks below the dam I loaded up and decided to go out to the only local and public gun range just to check it out. I arrived to find the parking lot almost full. I parked as far away as I could to allow my dog to get used to the sounds of gunfire though I’m sure that he had been hearing it for at least a couple of miles. He barked at the people for about 15 minutes and then settled down and went to sleep in the Jeep. When I arrived the benches were full of guns, bullets and shooters. There was a man about my age walking back and forth picking up spent cartridges and talking to most the guys as if he knew them. When he came past I introduced myself and set down beside him on a bench behind the shooters. He was very pleasant and helpful to talk to and said that he came out to the range about twice a week. He was 62 years old and there was only one gentleman older than him who looked to be in his mid seventies. I thought it was interesting that the oldest guy shooting had the only rifle with a nice wooden stock. All the rest of the guns were outfitted with dull black plastic or carbon fiber military looking stocks. Oh, have the styles changed from when I was a boy and we all talked about how beautiful the handmade walnut stocks were. With seven or eight shooters at the benches there must have been at least thirty guns laid out. Shotguns, rifles and pistols and a few odd weapons that I had no idea of what they were. The shooters were normal and came in all shapes. Fat and dumpy, skinny and stout ranging in ages from the early twenties to a couple over sixty. No women except for a couple sitting behind the range waiting for their young men, early twenties who were covered with tats. As a matter of fact almost all the younger guys had their arms covered in black ink. But just as I find most groups of men in the country they were almost all friendly and willing to enjoy each others company. A few jokes and jabs but mostly gun talk. No talk of politics, religion or gun laws. The guys just wanted to come out on a nice day and shoot. And I didnt see one AR-15 or any assault type weapons. No targets with the silhouettes of men on them, which surprised me really and no NRA slogans anywhere. Of all the happenings that afternoon only a couple were even remotely weird or confrontational for me. The first was a range etiquette and safety issue. On any range where other people are shooting you must “Clear” the range by yelling clear and making sure the others all heard and acknowledged the warning. There was a slight lull in the shooting of only a couple of minutes when the two young men with the girlfriends sitting behind them walked onto the range to retrieve their targets just as the elderly man on the other end of the range was about to shoot. We all had to yell at him and the two guys to clear. Clearly nobody had cleared the range. The young guys had not said a word before they walked out and we all had ear protection on. It scared the elderly gentleman and pissed him off. Rightly so. He walked down and gave the guys a piece of his mind and lectured them of their lack of commonsense and range safety. They soon left with their tales between their legs and without saying a word. The only other thing that stood out was when a guy showed up, started readying his pistol and opened a case full of silencers. I didn’t even know silencers were legal and I really can’t think of a honest reason why anyone would want one unless they were in some creepy business. In what case would one want to shoot someone and not want everyone to hear it except in military conflicts or killing for hire. Well after thinking about it I realized that I did not know anything about silencers like their real name , suppressors. So I went back to the internet to do some more background work. It seems that suppressors are used on rifles so as not to scare other would be prey and so hunters do not have to wear ear protection so they can hear the animals they are after. And suppressors are used to protect hearing by many people. If you would be one of those many people who live in one of the 42 states that now allows suppressors but you want to know more you might want to start at this site. https://science.howstuffworks.com/5-surprising-facts-gun-silencers.htm
Over all my trip to my local range was surprisingly pleasant. Even though I was wearing a tie-dyed tee shirt, had no gun with me and asked a lot of crazy questions, everyone was nice and I did not find the place to be full of the military sniper wannabes.