You may scoff - but I am a believer. They may not wear fluffy pink wings and tiaras, but Gun Fairies definitely exist. This species of fairy might have a beer gut or sport a beard, they might have plumber's crack instead of a tutu, they might drive an F250 instead of flying around with little wings, and they may leave a trail of cigar ash instead of pixie dust, but the wonders they perform are still amazing to behold. And unlike Tinkerbelle, these fairies are mostly male.
Specifically, I'm talking about the Handymen who have made all of our local gun clubs flourish for the past 25, 50, or even 100 years.
That isn't to say that we women haven't had a hand in any of it. That simply isn't true. But the social realities of the past 25, 50, or 100 years have dictated that the role that women may have played in their local sportsMEN's clubs (there's that word again) was minimal and supportive -- if they were permitted to participate at all. That reality is changing now, and we have female RO's, female match directors, and female club presidents. But for most of club history that wasn't the case, and it illustrates "why" I'm here to talk about men for a change.
One only has to look around carefully during a local pistol match, shotgun event, or even just your personal plinking trip, to recognize all of the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes -- probably for decades -- at whatever local club you happen to be that day. Who raised the money to buy the land in the first place in 1920, or 1950, or 1970? Who had that foresight? Who put up the clubhouse? That goes all the way down to who drove the front-end loader that put that block in last year? Who built those new benches in their garage last winter? For that matter, who hauls all those hundreds of boxes of clays that show up in bulk every season, and have to be put away?
Have you ever taken a really close look at the stage props at your pistol matches? Sure, some were probably purchased, but those target stands made out of 2x4's were probably built in some guy's basement. That mailbox and old car frame had to be hauled here by some other enterprising club member with a pick-up. How about those moving targets? Those masterpieces of Rube Goldberg physics were likely planned out carefully in some guy's garage, and took many weekends worth of effort to perfect.
All this infrastructure and all these props didn't just appear with a sprinkling of pixie dust from the Gun Fairies. They represent hundreds, if not thousands of accumulated hours of donated time. Time donated mostly by men - men who are accountants, and machinists, and carpenters, and welders, and cops, and engineers, and garage tinkerers, and maybe even heavy equipment operators by day. Your club wasn't just built with money. It was built with time and sweat, too.
So Ladies - we owe a lot to our local Gun Fairies. Don't forget to say thanks to the club members who put on a match for you. If you haven't already done so, pull up your big-girl panties with the tutu attached, and pitch in. You are needed. Help set-up or tear down a match, become a Safety Officer, or even just show-up to pick-up trash and debris on work days in the Spring. Maybe you aren't a welder, machinist or carpenter, but if you can hold a paint brush, or pound a nail, you can probably help. If you have talents - share them with your club. It doesn't happen on its own - someone needs to do it. And don't forget to spread some compliments around - "Hey, that's a cool prop, did someone build that themselves?", "That is a fine new retaining wall they put in last fall", or even just "Thanks for doing that".
... and I'm talking to myself just as much as I'm talking to all of you. I need to start being a Gun Fairy too. Now, where's my cigar... :-)