Let’s not blame the rifle

I just want to say a few things about rifles. Specifically, rifles built on a certain platform that seem to be getting a raw deal in the press. I just want to clear up some misconceptions.

Some very bad people have done some very despicable things over the last several years. And many of those people have done those horrible things with AR-15 rifles. But it’s not the rifles that should be blamed.

And I am ashamed to admit I have had thoughts that have been influenced by the misconceptions surrounding this type of rifle. I love shooting AR-15s, and I take them to the range every chance I get. But I haven’t hunted with one, because I’ve thought that if a non-hunter saw me out in the field with one, it may cause that person to develop even more negative feelings toward hunting.

But an AR-15 is just a rifle. The biggest differences between it and a traditional hunting rifle are cosmetic. Yes, many people hunt with bolt-action rifles, which tend to be more accurate, but the accuracy advantage of a bolt versus an AR-15 are negated by practice. It doesn’t matter how many rounds you can put through the same hole with a rifle if you don’t practice with that rifle, and an AR-platform rifle is easier to practice with.

There’s also a familiarity aspect. Not all of us grew up in Wyoming, where we were shooting guns shortly after we learned to walk. Many of today’s hunters first fired a gun in the military, and they did so with AR-platform rifles. Similarly, after World War II, the M-1 Garand was a very popular hunting rifle, because many of the young men who had served in the war bought one when they came home. Again, you’ll shoot better with a gun you’re familiar with, and if you shoot better, you will be a more responsible hunter.

Shoot what you are comfortable with, and what you practice with. The most important thing isn’t the type of rifle you hunt with – it’s that you hunt responsibly.