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November 11, 2021

Love Freedom? Take a Vet Shooting this Veterans Day

By Mark Oliva

Here’s a different take on celebrating America’s veterans this year. Instead of thinking about picking up the bill at lunch or toasting someone’s service, think about getting them back out behind a gun.

November 11 is Veterans Day, a celebration of those who served in the Armed Forces. Veterans Day was originally celebrated as Armistice Day. That marked the “day the guns fell silent” and World War I came to a close on Nov. 11, 1918. This Veterans Day, make the guns roar. Let the skeet and trap ranges be filled with breaking clays, steel targets ring and burned gunpowder fill the air.

If you want to celebrate the freedoms those in the military fought to preserve, go out and actually celebrate them. There’s hardly a better way than to invite a veteran in your circle of family and friends to join you for a day at the range or an outing the field and woods.

Live and Celebrate Boldly

For some, Veterans Day can be a somber occasion. Certainly, there are memories and the scars of war that remain long after battles fade. Some of our veterans deal with those traumas daily. Respecting those sacrifices and honoring those who served the nation doesn’t have to be a muted affair. These men and women we celebrate are people of action. They lived, and continue to live, colorful and daring lives. They ran to the sound of the guns. They fought for their freedoms and ours. That should be celebrated that boldly.

The firearm industry is a unique business. The factories, stores and ranges that comprise our industry tends to attract not just veterans as customers, but veterans as industry members. Many of the manufacturers have deep ties to our military. These factories produce the ammunition, rifles, pistols and other small arms our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines carry to war. We know the value of our products. We know that our industry arms those who protect our freedom.

Those freedoms were guaranteed by men and women willing to overcome fears and hardships. They know how rich and full their lives are because of those with whom they served. We are in a unique industry where we are surrounded by these same veterans every day. We work shoulder-to-shoulder with them. We glance at the same flag that flies in front of our buildings representing the United States and the shared value of freedom.

Participate in Freedom

That only seems right for an industry that makes firearms and ammunition and values the freedom preserved by veterans to keep and bear arms that we should celebrate veterans by making an opportunity for them to join in. Those in the firearm industry know the enjoyment of a day on the range or in the field participating in a hunt. Instead of just shaking a veteran’s hand this year, shake their hand and extend the invitation to get out to a range or a walk in the woods.

Actually celebrate freedom with the veterans who fought to preserve those freedoms. Make the celebration a noisy occasion, filled with shotgun blasts breaking clays and the reassuring “ping” of a connecting with a steel target. Don’t just thank a veteran for their service this year. Thank them with the sound of freedom.

Mark Oliva is Director of Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industries. He is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years of service, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania, and Zaire.

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