When I was a twelve-year-old kid I learned of the NRA. The National Rifle Association had a branch in my South Florida town and was offering free shooting lessons for kids. I was a Boy Scout, outdoors oriented, and wanted to learn everything I could about everything you can do outside. Along with my bow and arrow I’d taught myself how to shoot a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun which I’d purchased with my paper route earnings. Now I thought it was time to learn how to shoot a real rifle. Since the NRA was willing to teach me I showed up one Saturday morning at their in-town shooting range, acting on a tip I’d received from my snorkeling buddy.
Sure enough. Over a period of a few Saturdays the instructors showed me and several other kids how to safely handle a rifle (like how not to point it at someone, how to carry it, and how to maintain it). Eventually we got to the aiming of a rifle, proper shooting positions, and how to act on a firing range. Finally, we were outfitted with shooting vests, .22 single shot rifles, a place on the range to shoot from, ammunition and targets. I had arrived. We all had.
None of this had cost a cent.
Over several weekends, always very early on Saturday mornings (a good thing since there was often a camping or snorkeling trip to go on later in the day), we boys learned how to shoot well. Two of us wound up on the NRA Junior Rifle Team and successfully competed in regional events.
Much later I was on the rifle team for Georgia Military Academy and have been a life long lover of target shooting. Though my skills were thankfully not used in combat I was classified as an expert shot in the Army during Basic Training.
I mention all this because the NRA we have now is nothing like the NRA of 1956. Not even close. Now it’s an outfit dedicated to nothing more than lobbying congress at all times and in every way possible to maintain the most lax gun use laws in the developed world. It’s sole purpose is to enable the unrestricted sale of every personal weapon imaginable.
When I was a kid they were about teaching responsibility, safety and craftsmanship. What happened to that NRA? Where did they go and will they ever come back?