Student Reflections on Field Trip to Gun Range, 2022 (Light Over Heat #38)

Last week on “Light Over Heat,” I reported on my 8th Sociology of Guns class field trip to the gun range. This week, I summarize major themes in the students’ field trip reflection essays and read some snippets of the essays that highlight those themes.

Later this week on this blog, I will begin posting some of the students’ reflection papers. Sign up to receive notifications of new posts by email, or find the new and archived student reflections and other posts about the class going back to 2015 on my Sociology of Guns Class Collected Posts page.

These student reflection papers have historically been among the most popular items I post, so stay tuned!

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Show and Tell in Sociology of Guns Class

In my Sociology of Guns class yesterday, we de-briefed our field trip to the gun range the previous week. Some of the students’ written reflections are forthcoming – always some of the most read posts on this blog.

In the meantime, pictured below are 4 ammunition cartridges I brought with me to show the class. Three of them the students shot at the range: .22LR, 9mm, and .223 Remington. I highlighted how the diameter of the .22 and .223 bullets are almost the same, though their size and the amount of gunpowder used to propel them are dramatically different.

Although ballistics are well outside of my areas of expertise, students did have questions about calibers designed for hunting, the difference between rifle rounds and shotgun shells, and the legality of fragmenting bullets.

.22LR, 9mm, .223, and .50 BMG cartridges
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Sociology of Guns Field Trip to Gun Range, 2022 (Light Over Heat #37)

Under beautiful, sunny North Carolina skies, my Fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar students completed their mandatory field trip to the gun range on August 31st.

This is the 8th time I have taught the course and the 8th successful field trip we have taken as a class. All the students left the range with the same number of holes in their bodies as they arrived with, plus some experience handling and shooting firearms.

Although guns are always a Rorschach test of sorts and students’ preexisting understandings heavily influence the conclusions they draw about guns at the end of the course, having an experiential basis upon which to discuss firearms and shooting is foundational to our consideration of the role of guns in American society.

In the coming days, I will (as before) post some of the students’ field trip reflection essays on this blog. They have historically been among the most popular items I post, so stay tuned!

Read more about the field trip after the break….

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Sociology of Guns Field Trip to Gun Range, September 2021

Although the remnants of Hurricane Ida forced a last minute rescheduling, my Fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar students completed their mandatory field trip to the gun range on September 3rd.

This is the 7th time I have taught the course and the 7th successful field trip we have taken as a class. All the students left the range with the same number of holes in their bodies as they arrived with, plus some experience handling and shooting live firearms.

Although guns are always a Rorschach test of sorts and students’ preexisting understandings heavily influence the conclusions they draw about guns at the end of the course, having an experiential basis upon which to discuss firearms and shooting is foundational to our consideration of the role of guns in American society.

In the coming days, I will (as before) post some of the students’ field trip reflection essays on this blog. They have historically been among the most popular items I post, so stay tuned!

Sociology of Guns student firing a .22 pistol during field trip to Veterans Range, September 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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Sociology of Guns Module 1: Field Trip to Gun Range

As I prepare to teach my Sociology of Guns course Version 7.0, I thought I would post as much of the material for the different modules I am teaching this fall as possible.

Probably the most unique aspect of this course from the start has been the class trip to the gun range. Before we ever meet as a class or discuss any opinions, ideas, or scholarship on guns, students are REQUIRED to attend a field trip to the gun range. Once there, they are given the OPTION to try shooting.

The range field trip is such a highlight of the class for students, I joke that the course goes downhill after day 1.

Sociology of Guns Inaugural Student Field Trip to Gun Range, 2015. Photo by David Yamane
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Student Gun Range Field Trip: Triggers and Cognitive Dissonance

In response to my recent post about prepping for Sociology of Guns V7.0, reader DZ asked:

I’m curious. Have any of your students been “triggered” by the range trip? Are any affected emotionally by shooting a firearm for the first time? Have you had students refuse to participate?

These are great questions that I am happy to answer.

Sociology of Guns student at range. Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media
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