Recently, I was asked to be one of the photographers/videographers for a class Magpul conducted in conjunction with Mellon Creek Outfitters. When asked to participate, my love for cameras was all that excited me about this entire endeavor. Without realizing it, I was being a hypocrite and doing exactly what I have spent two years trying to stop. Negative thoughts filled my head immediately of “black gun” lovers and various other euphemisms I should never think of again. As a hunter, my first thoughts were, why would anyone want to run around and shoot paper targets all day? Why would anyone want to go through countless drills  unless they were going to war? What good would shooting from behind a barricade do if they weren’t a soldier or a police officer? The ridiculous questions I had running through my mind reached infinity. That alone made me a hypocrite. This class was likely one of the best things to have happened to me, as it solidified my stance on everyone being united and it painted a very different picture of what I had in my mind.

Magpul was originally established in 1999 with the intention of building a device which would simply aid in changing magazines during a stressful situation.  In a short twenty years, Magpul has moved from a simple idea to a major player in the game. One of the most profoundly brilliant rules Magpul operates by is knowing the difference between “want” and “need”. Our minds have the capacity to think of solutions to problems which far outrun common sense. Magpul’s solutions are never based on an array of wild illogical thoughts but rather based upon real issues, experienced by real people, during real life missions. Knowing  this, 99% of the time a simple fix to an issue is the best fix.  Magpul continues to gain ground on all fronts. Regardless, if one is a gun competitor, soldier, or police officer Magpul has the solution from hands on shooting to any component needed for your firearm. Their humbleness is just another testament to an unbroken strategy of greatness. Someone once told me, “Dan you’ll never really know how to win until you learn how to lose.” Magpul’s style of trial and error problem solving shows they aren’t afraid to lose to win.  This great company began with a simple idea and their effectiveness formed a recipe which yields success and growth.

Within ten minutes of the first day, I was no longer just looking for the best photograph or video I was listening to these instructors closely. These guys have an incredible ability to cause everyone around them to want to hear what they have to say. I watched as people with little to no knowledge of firearms become proficient within minutes. I likewise watched those who had done a significant amount of shooting in the past applaud the instructors on things they hadn’t heard before.  With safety being Magpul’s number one priority, everything about this class couldn’t have been any better.

I left to download footage after the first day and while waiting for the transfer to finish something dawned on me. I’ve spent a lot of time writing and talking to people about hunters needing to stick together. I’ve scolded fellow hunters for their ego filled temper tantrums on social media. For two years, I’ve done everything within my power to explain that a united force of hunters is far more effective against the anti 2nd amendment then a divided front. What dawned on me that evening was that although hunters need to unite; hunters also need to stop making illogical and negative assumptions about the guys who enjoy shooting targets. Conversely, the tactical guys need to stop making illogical assumptions about the hunters. After all, it truly helps no one’s cause for hunters to call them “black rifle freaks” or them to call hunters “camo clad rednecks”. In essence, it doesn’t matter why we like firearms, what matters is we stand as one force to stop those against us from taking our firearms and hunting away. I’ve been a professional hunter since 1988 and have hunted the world over several times. With that stated, I can categorically say with honesty, we can all learn from each other and we aren’t nearly as different as we like to think.

This class was made up of eight men and two women plus two male instructors. On the surface, this seemed like it would be truly intimidating to the women as one of them had little experience in the tactical environment and the other had none whatsoever.  Remarkably, I watched eight men accept Stephanie as one of their own because she shot well. I likewise watched these instructors and other class attendees have remarkable patience with Sydnee and encourage her to make progress. Right before my eyes, I watched what I have been asking people to do unfold. One of the instructors is an avid hunter, Stephanie hunts professionally and Sydnee waterfowl hunts almost daily for the duration of the waterfowl season. Some of the others hunted and all loved the tactical side of things. Not a single word of negative was spoken; only encouragement, positive reinforcement and applause were heard on the gun range. The camo clad rednecks and the black rifle freaks stood together and encouraged each other. During lunch and dinner, they talked about hunting as much as they talked about the gun range. I watched as the firearm lovers from both sides of the river built a bridge and enjoyed each other’s company.

With Magpul’s course opening my eyes to possibilities it further opened my eyes to a much greater issue than my original concern. Yes, hunters need to stop fighting among themselves and unite. However, a far more logical idea is to say all supporters of the second amendment need to come together as one. There is no need for the slanderous name-calling and degradation. The hunters and the tactical side of things share a love of freedom and country.  What purpose does it serve to make fun of a woman on social media because she likes guns or hunting? Furthermore, what purpose does it serve to make fun of anyone who stands for the basic principles you stand for yourself? I watched as what I am typing unfolded before my eyes. Pretty women, tactical guys, and hunters supported each other, and all walked away knowing more than they did to begin with. This isn’t a possibility, it is a necessity. The adversaries we face are well organized and well funded. We on the other hand are disorganized and at each other’s throats at every turn. Magpul has shown me clearly  they are willing to build the bridge and conquer the divide. Thus, the question remains, are we the hunters willing to meet them on that bridge and unite? Previously I spoke of simple solutions, nothing is simpler than people of similar interests becoming one force. I likewise spoke of simple solutions being the most effective solutions. It boils down to a choice regardless of why you are pro second amendment.  Do you want your children, your grandchildren, or any of the next generation to be defenseless or lose their ability to hunt? Magpul doesn’t, hunters shouldn’t, I don’t, it’s your move.