Shoot/No Shoot: Balancing Participation and Observation in Studying Gun Culture

Gun Culture 2.0

Early in my work on gun culture, I paid my tuition and attended Massad Ayoob’s MAG-40 (Phoenix, 2012), an NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home course (San Jose, 2013), and the Rangemaster Tactical Conference (Memphis, 2014), as well as a number of concealed carry courses in North Carolina.

Shooting at an NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home Course, 2013.

As my work has progressed, I have had to choose between observing various courses and attending them as a student. And so far I have always chosen the former.

For example, when I observed the 250 Defensive Pistol course at Gunsite Academy in June, I did not shoot (except for a few rounds in the Fun House during a break). This became a question on one of the many online gun forums out there. Why didn’t I shoot the Gunsite 250 course?

It’s a fair question and there are actually…

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