What is the ‘Athletic Shooter’?

“We’re on a mission to evolve the perception of shooters with NRA Freestyle shooting because there is no reason shooting shouldn’t be associated with athleticism.” – Colion Noir, NRA News Commentator.

What is the athletic shooter? Who is an athletic shooter? And why does urban gun enthusiast Mr. Colion Noir keep talking about the athletic shooter?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to those questions, aside from that quote I culled from a Q&A that followed an episode of his eponymous titled web series “Noir.”

If we are to take it at face value the athletic shooter is nothing more than an in-shape gun owner. Right?

This guy doesn't appear to be what Noir has in mind when he talks about 'athletic shooter.'  (Photo: TTAG)

This guy doesn’t appear to be what Noir has in mind when he talks about ‘athletic shooter.’ (Photo: TTAG)

But I don’t think that’s all there is to it. I think athletic shooter has an embedded meaning. From my vantage point, saying “athletic shooter” is just another way of saying “not an old fat white guy” (or OFWG). Yes, I’m arbitrarily bringing race, sex and age into the conversation.

See, it’s a widely documented fact that the National Rifle Association wants to diversify its demographics, to shift from a organization comprised mainly of OFWGs to one that is more reflective of the country itself. Quite honestly, what organization doesn’t want to become younger, increasingly female and more ethnically diverse?

After all, the demographics of the country are moving that way (non-hispanic whites, which make up 63 percent of the current population will decrease to half or slightly less than half by 2050), women make up more than half the population (in 2009, there were 158.6 million females compared to 151.4 million males in the U.S.) and young people buy stuff (millennials, 17 to 34-year-olds, will spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017 and $10 trillion in their lifetimes).

Some of the older athletic shooters might give Noir a run for his money.

Some of the older athletic shooters might give Noir a run for his money. This old cowboy at The Old Fort Gun Club in Arkansas doesn’t weigh a buck-ten with four guns and a full load of ammo.

Yet, using “athletic shooter” seems to be a coded way of saying we want gun owners to become younger, fitter and more diverse in terms of race, sex and ethnicity (When you think of today’s dominate and popular professional athletes, who comes to mind?)

I don’t have a problem with that. And I don’t think many people would. But if I’m right (which I’m probably wrong, I’m probably reading too much into this, I have a tendency to over think things from time to time) why not just come out and openly say we want more young, physically fit women, African Americans, Hispanics, etc. to join the ranks?

Is the NRA afraid OFWG (a class to which I may belong to in a few years) may get offended?

I don’t know. Maybe Noir or the NRA has said that directly and maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.  In any event, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about what you think an “athletic shooter” is. Is it just a muscly man with a gun or is there more to the term?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • DJ August 28, 2015, 10:30 pm

    Having watched his more recent videos, and recognizing that this article is almost a year old, he means it almost literally and as Dr Thunder mentioned, mainstream sports are huge in our country. Part of what I think he means, inferring from what he has said, is that the shooting sports should be just as popular as baseball, football, and basketball are. He has compared a few shooters in his most recent season to being the LeBron James of athletic shooting and 3-gun. In watching season three of Noir, he puts himself to a physical test on just about every episode in the form of different courses.

  • Lee Blackman September 29, 2014, 10:26 am

    When I think of athletic shooters, I think of Max Michel or Lesgar “Speedy” Murdock from USPSA. These guys are super fit and on their “A” game. They aren’t just guys who shoot, but are truly athletes. Their physical fitness level gives them a competitive advantage and you see it in their speed, agility, dexterity, and scores. Traditional shooting sports are much like golf… They don’t demand much physically from the competitor. But modern shooting sports such as USPSA, IDPA, and 3-Gun require more from the body.

  • JB September 29, 2014, 9:40 am

    I think you may be missing the point. As a competitive shooter I consider anyone that studies, analyzes, and strives to perfect their form, function, speed, and tactics in handling and using a firearm, to be an athlete. Some are clearly better than others, due to their practice or natural talent and in most cases a combination of both, but in that sense it’s not much different that most other organized athletic sports.

  • DrThunder88 September 29, 2014, 5:59 am

    I don’t buy the idea that “athletic shooter” is necessarily a euphemism for non-White males. Athleticism, perhaps less so than other forms of achievement, is a largely racially egalitarian pursuit. One could argue certain biases still exist within sports, but strength is still strength, speed is still speed, and agility is agility. In that sense, I can understand the interpretation of “athletic shooter” as unspoken demographic-broadening despite the inbuilt structures that still favor OFWGs.

    However, I think Noir is playing a longer game than expanding the rolls of shooters (or diminishing their rolls). Politically, a wider recognition of shooting sports as sports and shooters as athletes could serve to benefit shooters. It should be recognized by even the most siege mindset-ravaged brain that the notion of “legitimate sporting purpose” will never leave our country’s political mindset. Few people who are not shooters care much about the Second Amendment, and I suspect a small minority of shooters feel the same way. A large body of not-so-large bodies might be easier for the public to conceive of as a group of athletes as well as a well-regulated militia.

    Culturally too, mainstream sports represent an institution with such overly-inflated importance in our country that the people at its highest levels command a respect far beyond their actual gravitas. While there’s nothing saying that more fit shooters will suddenly springboard shooting sports into the limelight any more than there is anything saying there are no obese NFL fans, the media have a tendency to turn their cameras away from fat people (or at least turn down enough to not show their faces) except to encourage their audiences to point and laugh. Giving shooting sports a face without excess chins may make “shooter” a socially-desirable label rather than something used to describe a violent criminal.

    I could also see be concerned with the “athletic shooter” concept if I were handicapped or elderly, which are groups often overlooked in the discussion of marginalization, but there is nothing saying that we all need to be fit as fiddles to own guns. The idea is to change perceptions about shooters harbored by non-shooters or anyone else who is capable of counting beer bellies at the local range or gun store. The elderly and disabled do not necessarily compete in the same brackets as the young and able-bodied even today. In most cases men don’t compete with women, yet women are not considered non-athletes.

    None of this diminishes the rights of shooters or the power of the Second Amendment, but as we all know, those can be diminished and ignored by parties in power at every level of government. The only thing that has a chance when levied against these infractions is public support. It would be great to suddenly get an influx of minority shooters just because we’re touting athleticism, but that does not seem terribly likely nor does it seem like these initiates into this world are as likely to hold to the same principles as old hands. A more useful scenario would be for the large portion of the population that are not shooters to associate gun owners with a sport rather than media-friendly bloodbaths.

  • Al September 26, 2014, 5:01 pm

    I see the same nuance in verbiage when referring to the “athletic shooter”. My concern (which I thought the article was going to say) is that being “athletic” and being able to pass a fitness test would be yet another hurdle to limit legal gun ownership under the guise of “public safety/weapon retention” for the old and infirm.

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