Why So Serious? Shooting Should Be Fun, Too!

Editor’s Note: The following is a syndicated article by author Tamara Keel that first appeared in USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine Volume 12, Issue 3, April 2015 under the title, “Why So Serious.” 

So, there you are at the range, the dojo where you practice your gun fu. You’ve shot a Dot Torture drill, spent time on reloads and working on your weak-hand-only Type II malfunction clearance and did 15 minutes of Mozambique drills on a B-27 target. Now what?

Well, how about you have a little fun?

I know, I know … shooting, as the cat pictures on the Internet would put it, IZ SRS BZNS. But suppose you could do some fun shooting and have it reinforce the serious stuff?

One way to do this is to get what is sometimes referred to as an “understudy” gun — a near duplicate of your regular self-defense handgun but chambered in cheaper and less-fatiguing .22 Long Rifle.

If your defensive gun is a revolver, there’s most likely a rimfire version made by the same manufacturer. Most common duty-type guns, such as SIGs, Berettas and Glocks, can be fitted with a different slide and barrel from companies like Ciener or Advantage Arms that will convert them to fire .22 ammunition.

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If you carry a 1911-pattern pistol, there are tons of possibilities. The aforementioned companies make rimfire conversion kits, and a couple of different manufacturers make dedicated .22 LR copies of the pistol. (Ruger makes their 22/45 with a grip angle and control placement that mimic the classic Government Model.) When I carried a 1911-pattern pistol in .45, I not only had a Ruger 22/45, but I also bought a 9mm understudy to take advantage of the much cheaper ammunition.

So there you go, you can have a pistol for recreation that still fits your hand and works just like your carry gun. And, if you’re lucky, it can even be used with the same holsters and magazine pouches. But you don’t want to just stand there making noise and shooting the dirt on the berm, right?

When the practice is done, it’s a great time to try different fun competitions with your friends beyond just standard target shooting. Sure, there’s no pressure like there’d be in a big shooting match, let alone having to use the pistol for real, but even just the motivation to not have to pay for lunch after the range trip, combined with other people trying to outdo you, can be a good motivator to step up your game.

There are all kinds of recreational targets printed to let you play games ranging from Tic-Tac-Toe to Battleship to Poker. Add a time limit to make things more interesting. If you want a more head-to-head type of game, get a dueling tree, which is a steel target that has an even number of horizontally swinging paddles. You start with the same number of paddles on each side and try to flip them to the other side by hitting them. Get all the paddles flipped to the other shooter’s side and you win. It can make for some fast and exciting shooting.

Just because self-defense is a serious topic doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at the range. Go have some!

Discover how you can join nearly 300,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Michael J January 4, 2020, 4:03 pm

    Shooting should be enjoyable but as with anything, there’s always a group that makes the range rules grow exponentially and the range owner tyrannical. Let face it, there are fewer places to shoot so they got you by the short hairs. No rapid fire, no reactive targets, no picking up your brass, no unapproved weapons? Uually these rules aren’t unreasonable unless there are alot of shooters who all want to hang their targets at different times and cause more waiting than the DMV. Of course this is an outdoor range vs an indoor one where you’re usually on the clock. Range masters are a must or you’ll have a free for all. Usually at my range there are good and bad, reasonable and anal. Safety is always the number one priority but if it isn’t any fun, you tend to resist the outing. Range Masters at my shooting place gives me the impression that an old guy finally gets to yell at complete strangers and have complete authority rather than promote a safe, friendly and learning atmosphere exercising their 2nd Amendment Rights. Sometimes it’s just fun to rapid fire or hit something other than a paper target.

  • Will Drider January 1, 2020, 11:55 pm

    Depending on your Happy Meter, “Serious work” can also be rewarding, enjoyable and fun (unless your results are poor). The “understudy gun” concept has been around for a long time, however; its primary role was for cost effective warmup/training BEFORE you throw .25 cents a round down range with “Serious work”. There is still merit in All work and no play makes for a crappy day.

    So I agree, let the stress flow away: do some plinking in any fashion that puts a smile on your face or bring and shoot a fun gun you love. Could be a Single Aaction Army, a black powder smoke wagon or that odd gun you really like but it has no mission and it sits in the safe: rediscover those guns and enjoy them! If they don’t make you happy, sell them and get something that will.

  • Mike V December 31, 2019, 10:40 pm

    Seems like a no brainer, I’m sure someone will feel the need to scold you for suggesting guns can be fun.

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