I don't know about you, but every year, Mother's Day somehow manages to sneak up on me. There I am at 11:30 p.m. the Friday before, credit card in hand, wondering if Mom will notice the extra $30 in shipping I paid to ensure that my last-minute gift made it there in time for her day. This year, instead of sweating bullets, I think I'll take Mom to the shooting range and we'll let the bullets sweat us. Here are five reasons why I'm pretty sure this plan will work out better than the double-priced (and half-dead) bouquet of roses did last year...and why you ought to consider doing the same.
1. Neither one of you will have to pretend to be having fun. Tell me if this sounds familiar: You spend a couple of days calling around to various brunch spots in your town, only to find that they're all either booked solid or not taking reservations on Mother's Day. Undaunted, you get the whole family dressed up in their Sunday finest...which stays pristine for about 10 minutes before the kids express their boredom with the line for a table by getting into a used-chewing-gum fight. By the end of brunch, both you and the honoree don't even want to hear the phrase "Mother's Day" for at least another 364 days. You didn't have fun, the kids didn't have fun, Mom didn't have fun...and although they don't really have facial expressions per se, those live lobsters in the tank were looking a bit gloomy, too.
But if you just go to the range with Mom instead, you won't have to worry about reservations. Nobody is going to seat you right in between the restrooms and the dishwasher. You can wear your "scrubby" clothing without embarrassment. What's more, the smile on Mom's face as she sends rounds downrange will be genuine.
2. Gun safety knowledge never wilts, gets spilled or compounds interest. Let's face it: Lots of the traditional Mother's Day gifts are kind of a throw of the dice. Flowers? No matter how often she refills the water in the vase, eventually they're going to wither. Perfume? Whether or not a person will like a particular scent—and whether it will work well on their skin—is unpredictable at best. And an expensive restaurant meal may be just a moment on the lips, but it's forever on your credit card statement.
But if you go to the range with Mom instead, you'll have the chance to either instill or brush up on her gun-safety skills, which are always useful, always in style, and will stick with her for decades after you've forgotten how much the range fees were.
3. Shooting is a hobby that never gets stale (unlike those Eggs Benedict). One of the best things about the shooting sports is that, unlike those rather sketchy-looking Eggs Benedict, it's a hobby that never goes stale. The physical requirements are minimal; although being in tip-top physical condition is useful for physically demanding disciplines like biathlon or 3-Gun, the vast majority of shooters really only need to be able to hold their firearm steady. (And if you use a benchrest, not even that.) Boiled down to its bare fundamentals, shooting is really mostly hand-eye coordination, which is a characteristic that most people have well into their old age. (Not that Mom is old—no, no, no.) What's more, it's a hobby that one can continue to develop forever. If she's gotten handy at shooting at 100-meter targets, she can try 200 meters next. Or she can take up a competitive sport like Silhouette, Cowboy Action Shooting or Sporting Clays. There's always something new to try, if she wants to.
4. The shooting community is an actual community. One of the tougher aspects of life in modern America is how disconnected so many of us are from our families and neighbors. There's no moral weight to it; people live where there are jobs for them to do, and that often means that families become far-flung and neighbors don't know one another well. It can be a little lonely sometimes. A terrific way to combat this 21st-century detachment is to find a community united not by proximity, but by interests. The shooting community is one of the best examples of this, as shooters who get to know each other at range events and classes tend to bond quickly over their shared hobby. And unlike other hobbies we could mention, this one won't result in dozens of slightly crooked, itchy wool scarves.
5. As much as it can ever be possible to do so, you'll be returning the favor. When you subtract out the commercialism, Mother's Day is about honoring the woman who gave you life. There's really no way you can ever really return that favor, of course, but you can come close: You can be part of teaching Mom how to defend her own life. It's not a pleasant thought to contemplate, but you know that criminals tend to target people whom they perceive as being weak and defenseless. Women, especially older women (not that Mom is old! No, no, no!) unfortunately look like easy prey to predators. Helping Mom learn how to safely handle firearms just in case of the unthinkable will not only improve her quality of life, it'll improve yours, too.