The Internet is a fantastical thing. Did you know there are places on the Internet dedicated to nothing but cat videos? You can also visit a website that will diagnose your ailment and tell you how to treat everything from an ingrown toenail to cancer – and never leave your home.
And, unbelievably, there are even websites where folks go to talk about nothing but guns. If you have some spare time to spend staring at a computer or smartphone screen, this sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, in a way, it is. These Internet gun chat rooms are used by everything from highly educated ballisticians to 14-year-old boys addicted to “Call of Duty.” When you first enter one, you have no way of knowing to whom you are talking. And, until you spend some time getting to know these folks, you have no idea if the information you’re digesting is accurate, or a complete and utter waste from a male cow.
I don’t have a good history with gun forums or chat rooms. I’ve participated on occasion, but I suffer the gun writer chat room curse. You see, chat room gurus commonly make their mark by bashing gun writers. Now, I’m not saying this is always undeserved. Some gun writers – and maybe even me on occasion – make mistakes. If they do, the record needs correcting.
However, if a gun writer participates in a gun forum, then he or she needs to be prepared to defend every word they write. This is because reading comprehension is a dying art, and because folks have passionate preferences when it comes to guns. Write something unflattering about someone’s favorite cartridge, and you best build up your defenses like your overnighting at Rorke’s Drift. (Never heard of Rorke’s Drift? Look it up; the Internet can be your friend.)
Knowing all of that, when I decided to publish my latest book, “The Scout Rifle Study” (it’s an interactive website; you can register for access at www.thescoutrifle.com), I decided to link it to one of the best gun forums I’ve found. This forum is dedicated to Scout Rifles and can be found at www.scoutrifle.org.
Now, you may not be a Scout Rifle aficionado, but let me educate you on something. Did you know that 79 percent of Scout Rifle enthusiasts own more than 10 firearms? That 86 percent of Scout Rifle enthusiasts consider themselves hunters, shooters, and own firearms for personal protection? And finally, that more than 75 percent of Scout Rifle enthusiasts shoot or purchase more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in a month? My point is simple: Shooters who are interested in Scout Rifles are generally well acquainted with a wide variety of weapon systems.
Obviously this forum is a great place to learn about Scout Rifles, but you can also interact with shooters who are familiar with all sorts of guns and accessories. And, even more, www.scoutrifle.org is also home to what I call the Shadowy Scout Rifle Elite. (You’ll just have to visit the forum to see what I’m talking about with this one.)
Considering that some of those who frequent firearm forums hide behind an alias and profess to be an expert, you’ll find these shadowy elite types on them all. The point of all this rambling is to offer you my five rules for participation in any firearm forum. Take heed – they will save you some headaches, and might even keep you from shooting your computer during a late-night Internet argument.
- Create a cool alias but if you do, list your real name in the signature. The lack of anonymity will keep you from typing stupid stuff.
- If you are attacked personally, ignore the comment. There is nothing to gain from childish Internet arguments with a person hiding behind a fake identity.
- Trust but verify. There can be lots of good information gained from firearm talk forums, but for safety sake, validate any advice. (Never take reloading data from a gun forum as gospel.)
- If you find someone you like on the forum, try to meet with them. You might make a great friend, and it will give you a chance to vet their knowledge.
- And finally, don’t live by the forum. Participation should be engaging and enjoyable, and mostly done when you have absolutely nothing to shoot at or hunt.
Images by Richard Mann