Senior Executive Editor Kelly Young’s story on the compatibility of various red-dot sights and pistols (“Navigating The Optics-Ready Market,") generated numerous responses from readers, underscoring a hunger for basic information about guns and gear on the part of seasoned and new shooters alike.
Along with continued strain on the nation’s ammunition supply, such inquiries confirm that last year’s dramatic upswing in gun-buying was no lark. The fact that 8.4 million people bought a firearm for the first time in 2020, accounting for 40 percent of all gun purchases, represents an ideal opportunity today for you, the NRA member, to share your enthusiasm for gun ownership and love of freedom with newcomers by becoming a mentor. NRA Publications can help with its “Guide For New Shooters,” available at americanrifleman.org/nramentor, along with stories such as “How Mentoring A New Shooter Makes You A Better One” at nrawomen.com and “The Basics Of The AR-15” at americanrifleman.org/ar15basics.
I recently had the pleasure of going to the range with my wife, our youngest son and his girlfriend—a fine young lady with remarkable high school athletic and academic accomplishments behind her and collegiate athletic and ROTC programs ahead—and I was gratified to watch her confidence grow with each press of the trigger on my loaner AR. During that brief session, she became one of the millions of new shooters in the United States who have begun to personally stake a claim on our nation’s unique Second Amendment heritage.
According to data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), this past July was the second-highest July on record for the number of background checks conducted during the sale of a firearm. That month’s nearly 1.3 million checks through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is only overshadowed by the record-breaking number of 1.8 million conducted in July of last year. More than 11 million background checks have been conducted for the purchase of a firearm in 2021, and this past July marks 16 straight months of elevated firearms sales throughout the nation.
In this issue, we are reminded that approximately one out of every 10 new shooters is left-handed. So are more than a few experienced authorities on firearms, shooting and hunting. One, is longtime contributor Craig Boddington, also our newest field editor, who opines about his lifelong struggle to find and outfit himself and his loved ones with appropriately configured rifles, shotguns and handguns in “Picking Sides: Firearm Actions For Mixed-Up Families." With 45 years of African safari experience to his credit and a career as a high-ranking Marine officer, Boddington knows a thing or two about what it’s like to be a lefty having to operate a right-hand firearm in a hurry.
Another lefty firearm authority, Senior Executive Editor Kelly Young, evaluates the new Ruger 10/22 Competition, a left-hand version of the country’s most popular semi-automatic rimfire rifle, in this month’s cover story, “Left Out No More: Ruger’s Southpaw 10/22 Competition." With 8 million units sold to date since the gun’s 1964 introduction, left-hand versions of the 10/22 have the potential to account for the greatest number of left-hand-friendly rifles ever sold.
The firearm community is a large, inclusive one that spans America. Last year’s record firearm sales indicate that 40 percent of buyers were women and that black Americans accounted for the biggest increase of any demographic category, buying guns at a rate 58 percent greater than in 2019. All of these buyers no doubt share a desire to provide for the safety and security of themselves and their families. And at the core of that desire is a latent appreciation of one of our country’s most foundational concepts: individual liberty.