Updated: Nov 25, 2018
One of the biggest misconceptions about competition shooters is that people "get paid to shoot". Example, my family... we loose a LOT of money shooting. We work day and night to afford to shoot, to reload & prep & practice, and we work once we get done to deliver content to sponsors. Sponsorship helps offset some costs, but like the $12K + in just match fees we had in 2017 (don't even ask about hotels, gas, ammo, etc.), what we accomplish is on us. There are very few actual "professional shooters" out there, and even they usually work at something else, or live off a retirement. But there's a lot more people cropping up who call themselves "Pro Shooters", like it elevates their status or something. And I think that sort of self-flattery just serves to diminish the point of competition...it turns competition into a sort of gathering glory for self versus working to build not just the shooting sports, but the 2nd Amendment and the businesses supporting those freedoms. Whatever accomplishments anyone attains with a firearm in competition, the battlefield, or anywhere...those accomplishments are realized through the labor of those building building guns, building optics, building machinery... It's craftsmanship, innovation, history - past, present, and future rolling into one - to give people the tools to go out and DO more.
But people often miss the reality that those hands toiling invisibly are the reason someone sets a record, wins a medal, or hits their mark. For me, this is a very personal thing. Since I was a kid, I've seen daily the tiny slices of what the firearms industry is truly made from: small businesses, devoted gunsmiths, families and employees who love what they do so that others can go DO more. That's my dad the shooter credits in the accompanying photo...that rifle referenced was built by my dad, probably in his shop after he worked his first job all day and came home to work his 2nd job of gunsmithing. That rifle barrel and tube the shooter mentions were made in a shop that has seen 3 generations of machinists. None of them are rolling in money , but they are rich in dedication to their own legacy, whether they know it or not.
So whenever someone in your circle of friends talks about "The Industry" and "The Pros", remind them that "The industry" is made up of small people who have nurtured firearms and the 2nd Amendment from something that secured American ideals of freedom & liberty, to an industry that secures their family food and a roof over their head, and secures you the tools to do the same. Remind them that any "Pro" probably still has a day job, and they're really only as good as the gear & guns they run allow them to be...which is dependent on that little guy nobody sees, doing things like glass-bedding a rifle at 11pm to feed his family. Be thankful for the people who are behind you and your firearms; whether that's firearms to compete, hunt, serve & protect, or just protect your family. Somewhere in the life of your firearm, someone else was working unseen. Be thankful for them!
* Photo is from a post about Distinguished rifle shooters and they started spontaneously to list their badge numbers and Grant G. named his barrel maker and gunsmith. I can't wait to show this to my dad so he knows that someone went distinguished with a rifle he built! #BeThankful #BeRelentless #beYOU #DOmore