For people who are familiar with guns, it’s easy to forget how intimidating the experience can be for first-timers. But Defense in Depth store manager Wil Jackson says that some of the most rewarding lessons in our lives are often the most frightening at first. And in the end, we usually smile that we were ever afraid at all.
“Riding a bike was a terror,” Wil says. “My brother was very quick to pick up the skill, but my struggle was real.” Balancing on a fast-moving metal contraption between large obstacles sounds as dangerous as it is. Still, like many kids, Wil spent two difficult weeks learning from his mother – peddling once or twice, falling over, then getting back up to do it again.
His mother was also responsible for teaching him to swim, and rather than focus on the possibility of drowning, Wil found himself trying to pinpoint the “aha moments” of the skill.
The next intimidating experience to conquer – this time with his father – was the noisy violence of the chainsaw. “Everyone I tell this to sort of laughs, but to me, a motor with quick-spinning teeth was frightening,” says Wil. “Growing up in the middle of the woods meant this was a skill I needed very much.”
His moments of clarity came even quicker this time. “Thinking about being precise and about the way the tree wants to fall was so interesting to me, I instantly forgot my fear, and the task at hand took precedence. I realized that the key to working a chainsaw didn’t come from strength but from controlling the throttle and listening to make the saw work efficiently.”
It is worth noting that all of these activities – cycling, swimming and felling trees – are at least as dangerous as practicing with a firearm. Bicycle accidents kill about 50% more people than gun accidents, while drownings account for seven times as many deaths. Lumberjacking is the most dangerous profession in the United States.
And yet, Wil says that facing these tasks head on with someone who could teach him was an important part of becoming a responsible and capable adult. A key component of all of this learning was safety.
“I did not ride a bike without arm protectors and a helmet. I did not learn how to swim without a life vest and water wings. I did not learn how to run a chainsaw without protective pants, safety glasses, and hearing protection. But most of all I didn’t learn how to shoot without safety. My father took a lot of time showing me how to be a responsible shooter. To think about not only what you are shooting at, but the objects behind it. To never shoot into the air, and to know where your backstop is.”
Wil believes that learning to shoot a firearm is no different from the other tasks he practiced in his youth: scary at first, but ultimately rewarding and empowering. This is why he works with Defense in Depth to provide the training and the safety required for first-time shooters of all ages to become confident and responsible participants in the study of self-defense.