NRA members are rightfully concerned about the protection of gun rights and the longevity of the shooting sports. We know the successes we have enjoyed in the past are due in no small part to our strength in numbers. Furthermore, the key to maintaining and building on our past victories is not only to sustain, but to also grow the size of our organization. To that end, NRA tries to provide and promote opportunities for people to get involved in the shooting sports.
The media, anti-gun groups and the entertainment industry, however, have long portrayed the shooting community as archaic, extremist, and dangerously outside the mainstream of society. Consequently, we have received recent inquiries from members and non-members alike, who have expressed skepticism at several recent attempts by cable channels to showcase the shooting community via new gun-related reality programming. NRA has always sought to educate the public that the Second Amendment protects more than a hunter's deer rifle and now the media, of all people, appear to be helping us do that.
The History Chanel's Top Shot debuted last year and features teams of contestants who compete in various shooting challenges with the goal of winning a cash prize. The History Channel has additionally run the show Tales of the Gun and other firearm-related shows for years.
The Discovery Channel's Sons of Guns showcases custom gun manufacturer Red Jacket Firearms and its owner Will Hayden. The show has drawn a degree of criticism from some quarters of the shooting community who think the show focuses too much attention on "black rifles" and thus perpetuates what they consider a negative stereotype that alienates the non-shooting public, rather than win them over.
While we can understand the thought process leading some to suggest these shows do more harm than good, at the end of the day the anti-gun crowd doesn't care what type of gun it is or how it is used. If they see a .50 BMG Barrett rifle (Top Shot Season 2) they say it is too big and shoots too far. A semi-automatic AK-47 variant (frequently appearing on Sons of Guns) shoots too many rounds and frightens them. Even the more traditional hunting-themed shows are seen by the anti-gun crowd as "glorifying a violent gun culture."
These shows provide exposure to firearms and sporting activities that would otherwise be missed. Some gun owners are not necessarily interested in hunting or traditional target shooting. Instead, some are attracted to faster-paced competition shooting and tactical firearms. These programs allow those with little or no prior connection to the firearms community to see the variety of shooting sports and firearms that are available to them. They also provide a counter balance to shows like the National Geographic Channel's Wild Justice program, which often portrays gun owners as drug-addicted poachers.
No TV program will please everyone, but in the end, shows like Top Shot and Sons of Guns are presenting gun owners to the public as the legitimate competitive shooters and law-abiding businessmen, that in reality, they are.
One way to further the fight to protect our gun rights is to add new shooting enthusiasts and showcase the shooting sports. These programs are another way to do so.