One of the best places to satisfy gun curiosity is at the gun range. So the highlight of my Sociology of Guns seminar at Wake Forest University each year is a field trip we take to a local range. There students get a first exposure to what guns are, how they work, and what it is like to handle them. This provides an essential experiential base of knowledge that carries over through the semester.
When I taught my seminar in the fall of 2015 and 2016, class started in September, so weather allowed us to use an outdoor range to which I belong. In 2017, 2018, and this year, the seminar has been offered in the spring, with class beginning in January, so we have visited an indoor range instead.
Every year the field trip has two components: A mandatory classroom introduction to firearms/safety and a voluntary opportunity to shoot guns on the range. (I encourage students who choose not to shoot at least to observe the shooting, which most non-shooters do.)
At the outdoor range, students have an opportunity to shoot handguns and rifles. At the indoor range, they only shoot handguns because of the noise. In all cases they do so under the close supervision of Range Safety Officers.
For a minority of students who take my class, guns are familiar. But for the majority of students, guns are novel. The latter group benefits in particular from the range field trip, as my following posts will show.