Archetypes of the Gun Owner: Gamer Gary

This is a guest post from The Red Menace. If you like his writing, let him know in the comments.

Hi everyone, I’m The Red Menace of Red Menace Shooting (cough check out my YouTube channel cough). Sunshine Shooter asked me to write this guest post since my status as an out and proud Gamer gives me unique insight into this little known and rarely studied subculture.

Before I get started I’ll give everyone a little background on me. I started shooting competition about 6 years ago, solely IDPA for the first couple years then USPSA almost exclusively for the last four years. I went into my first IDPA match with the mindset that I was going to use competition as a tool to make myself a better shooter in terms of concealed carry/self defense. That notion lasted until the end of my first stage. As I unloaded and heard my time called and compared it with shooters who had gone before me I came to the realization, “This is a game, and I want to win.” After that first match I became obsessed with competition shooting, and it was only made worse when I switched to USPSA. But enough about me, let’s discuss the real reason we’re all here filthy, sand-bagging, Gamers.

The author is not a menace to shooting, but to fashion!

Who is a Gamer?

A Gamer is best described as a gun owner whose main focus is on the shooting sports, more specifically the action shooting sports of USPSA/IPSC, IDPA (bleh), Steel Challenge and GSSF. Perhaps not surprisingly, Gamers are one of the smallest of the Shooting Communities. The IDPA and USPSA (which includes Steel Challenge and USPSA Multi-gun) websites list their memberships at over 25,000 and 31,000 members respectively. Naturally, there is some crossover in membership (I am a Member of USPSA and I’m ashamed to say IDPA as well). But if we assume the best case scenario that there are 56,000 thousand members between the two organizations and add say another 20,000 unregistered 3-Gun and Outlaw match shooters, Gamers are a minuscule group especially compared to Fudds.

Gamers are also somewhat unique in the shooting community in that they are disliked by almost everyone. Fudds see the sports Gamers participate in as either dangerous, or “making the gun community look bad,” and Sheepdog types see them as wannabes who will “get killed in the streets.” I think a lot of this hate has to do with Fudds who have been  shooting for 30 years on bowling alley ranges, and Sheepdogs who took two(!) classes last year disliking the fact they just got smoked on a stage by a 22 year old IT consultant who actually practices. 

Red gun, red holster, red belt, red shirt, red shorts, red hat, red(ish) glasses. Definite gear nerd.

Gamers also tend to be gear nerds to an extreme. They will base their firearm ammo and equipment choices on the rules of their preferred sport or division and also let which division they shoot influence the equipment they choose for self-defense. It’s no coincidence that I shoot a DA/SA hammer fired gun in Production division, and that both my carry and home defense guns are also DA/SA hammer fired guns. Part of this gear obsession comes from low level shooters trying to “buy skill” by buying expensive guns or gear in order to be faster, and part of it comes from certain things being genuinely advantageous given a particular division’s rules. 

Know Them by Their Phrases

  • “I’d like to thank ‘X’ gun company for building such a reliable pistol”
  • “I was lucky enough to win”
  • “Haven’t practiced in a while so I was very rusty today”
  • “God F$&%#@ D@$^&!” (That one is usually at the end of a stage)
  • “Having a gun and never shooting competition is like owning golf clubs and only going to the driving range” ( I use that one myself frequently)
  • Normal Human: “I’m just here to have fun” Gamer: “Oh yeah? What’s more fun than winning?” (Sadly, also me more than once)

Who is Not a Gamer?

Participating in competition does not immediately make someone a gamer. Someone who occasionally shoots in competition to maintain their shooting skills for self-defense is not a Gamer. If you show up to matches, and end up shooting in Open division with your carry gear, you’re not a gamer (but you are awesome and should continue doing that). If you base your competition gear on what you carry and not the other way round you’re probably not a gamer. 

What Makes Them Dangerous?

The first dangerous element of gamers is how easy it is to slip into unintentional elitism.

 USPSA for example can turn into a real echo chamber in terms of equipment. Serpa and other “off the shelf” holsters are very rare outside of those shooting their first couple matches, XDs are almost nonexistent, and it is uncommon to see anyone using stock sights, grips or triggers on their guns. It was easy for me to start thinking that Springfields and M&Ps were on a decline since no one I knew was shooting them. When went to my first IDPA match in over two years there were XDs and M&Ps of almost very model, lots of people using cheap “off the shelf” holsters, and lots of guns still in stock configuration. It was almost a culture shock to see. It’s important for Gamers (myself included) that budget guns and gear have a role in the industry, and not everyone is shooting 5,000+ rounds a year.

You can tell this transfers directly to real life, because he’s wearing a jacket!

The second dangerous aspect of Gamers is that they have a tendency to assume their competition skills will transfer over into self-defense shooting. There are a lot of Gamers who take pride in their draw times, splits, or El Pres runs, but never practice with their carry gear. They either assume that their competition training will be sufficient, or more often don’t think about self-defense shooting at all. This is especially the case in IDPA, as a sport more oriented towards defensive shooting (the D in IDPA stands for defensive after all). Lots of IDPA shooters consider the matches they shoot to be training, but will shoot the match with a set up not even remotely similar to their EDC rig, because a Glock 34 under a fishing vest is more competitive than a 26 IWB under a T-shirt.

Author’s collection of pistols, from his Instagram

Perhaps the most dangerous element of Gamers however, is in their interpretation/adoption of the “sporting purpose” phrase both in legal terms and in the gun control debate. I should preface by saying I think many Gamers probably believe they are genuinely helping when the make this argument. By pointing out that they use their ARs, high cap pistol mags, and semi-auto shotguns in USPSA,IDPA and 3-Gun, they think that they’re proving that all guns can have a sporting a purpose, therefore all those guns should be legal. This is dangerous because it gives the “sporting purpose” term any credibility. Sporting Purpose has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment, and attempting to appease gun control advocates by pointing out the you can find a modern “sporting purpose” for your guns only gives them leverage for guns that don’t have a sport (.50 cals, RPGs, crew served weapons etc.). Fortunately, most of the Gamers I know are rabid 2nd Amendment supporters who are just as fed up with gun grabbers as anyone else.

What We Can Learn

The biggest thing Gamers have to offer is fun. If shooting and reloading while moving around and trying to win isn’t your idea of fun, we can’t be friends. Seriously though, the level of fun and camaraderie at a shooting match is truly amazing. Even if you’re having a bad day, guys in your squad will try to help with advice or encouragement. More than once I’ve had people I’d never met before, let me use their guns, holsters and even ammo to finish a match after my gun broke. 

Speaking of speed, notice the dust kicked up during the authors run.

Another thing that Gamers offer is how to learn raw speed. Modern competition shooting was designed to find the fastest techniques and then have those techniques transfer over into the Self-defense/LEO/military world. I’ve been fortunate to shoot with National and even World level Grand Masters. Speaking with them I know that they have given classes to Police departments and SWAT teams all over the country. Gamers may not know much about small unit tactics, room clearing or hand to hand fighting, but if I had to pick between an A-Level Production shooter, or a Fudd who “practices” with his .45 twice a year, to be next to me in a gunfight, I know who I’d choose.


As a semi-reformed Gamer (buying my first AR, and Boogaloo memes have encouraged me to broaden my shooting horizons), I have to say that being a Gamer is a lot of fun. Shooting matches will make you a better shooter, I stand by that. Getting too focused on Gaming however, can draw you into spending your training time on the things that will help you win matches, instead of on things that will make you a better all around shooter. Using competition as a means to benchmark and improve your shooting skills is good, and trying to win is a natural extension of that, but I think that focusing solely on Competition shooting leaves large gaps in a person’s skill set.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you enjoyed it, be sure to tell Sunshine. If you didn’t like it, be sure to tell me.

I’d like to thank The Red Menace for this post, I think he did a great job on it. Don’t forget to check out his YouTube channel and Instagram page. Next time we’ll take a look into our next installment: Tactical Timmy.

Stay competitive, and we’ll see you next Friday. -S_S

12 thoughts on “Archetypes of the Gun Owner: Gamer Gary

  1. That Red Menace is a Menace!
    And he didn’t even mention the most important skill competition teaches you… flip and catch.
    Always be cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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