At the NRA Annual Meetings (NRAAM), addition to the speeches and huge exhibit hall, there are educational seminars for all sorts of firearms related activities.
In addition to the typical “how to shoot better” classes, classes about equipment, political topics, there are medical classes and even classes for non traditional shooters.
While the fastest growing demographics in shooting are women and minorities, another rapidly growing demographic is older people. Many of the traditional shooters are now reaching the age where they are “senior citizens.” They are still interested in shooting, but as age creeps in, there physical abilities are changing in and some ways diminishing.
Just because people get older doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to defend themselves. In fact, the older and maybe more frail one gets, the more they may have to rely on firearms and other tools for defense.
Which is where the NRA Adaptive Shooter program comes in. While originally intended for outreach to “disabled” shooters it has rapidly expanded to older shooters with various challenges to being able to shoot.
One of the classes, and I’m approaching the age, if not afflicted with the disabilities (yet), was “The Older Defender”, which talked not just about self defense but other issues older shooters face.
Presented by Joe Logar, whis is the director of the Adaptive Shooter program there was a review medical issues that can affect older shooters.
The review covered vision, muscle, and joint issues that older shooters can face. Then there was a review of both techniques and equipment to help shooters to be able to continue shooting as they age
There one also reviews of some equiopment to help with various issues shooters face.
One issue that is commonly encountered is cycling (racking) the slide on semi automatic pistols. In addition to hand strengthening exercises, there is some hardware that will help.
First is the Handi Racker. This device slides onto the slide and makes cycling the slide much easier. I probably won’t buy a set of these immediately, but they are very likely to be in my future. If for nothing else, occasions where I am teaching older or weaker people how to shoot.
There are other devices, which likely work the same, but this is just the one I saw on the exhibit hall floor.
There was also advice on discussing focal distance for eyeglasses with your eye doctor. That makes a lot of sense, although it’s likely not something that people think of. Focal distance has a large effect on how you see the your sights and your target.
On of the more interesting points was that in addition to exercises to increase grip strength, exercises to increase the ability to release your grip are also helpful.
As a result, I ordered a set of finger stretcher resistance bands like these,
I’ll be adding a set of exercises with these to my work out routine.
Speaking of hands, lightweight shooting or weight lifting guns are a good addition to the your range bag. While you probably won’t want to wear them all the time just in case you get into a self defense situation, they are good for reducing wear and tear during practice.
If you are going to be shooting 100 rounds or more, that’s a lot of wear on your hands. Shooting gloves will reduce fatigue and in my case at least, blisters on the web of my hand.
Weight lifting gloves provide additional support to your wrists. Again, you probably won’t need that sort of support during an actual self defense situation, but at the range they’ll be helpful.
Gun manufacturers are starting to get on board as well. Semi automatic pistols with slides that are easier too cycle and have softer recoil are becoming very popular items.
Smith & Wesson recently introduced the M&P 380 Shield EZ which features an easier to cycle slide and a grip safety.
While some “traditional” shooters don’t like the concept of a large .380ACP pistol with a grip safety, those folks aren’t the target market. The target market is shooters with smaller hands and weaker hand and forearm strength.
While I was on the exhibit hall at the S&W booth I saw several people looking at and holding the sample guns. The remarks I heard were pretty favorable.
Here’s a picture of the M&P Shield 380 EZ,
As the “traditional” shooter demographic ages, existing manufacturers are going to adapt and new ones are going to appear to cater this new market.
I think we might also see growth in the Pistol Caliber Carbine market as older people start to use them for home defense. That’s just a guess, but the longer site radius, light recoil, two handed operation might appeal to older defenders.
I’ll add some more thoughts in a later post, after I’ve tried out some of equipment I’ve bought.