why i shoot by Steve ware

Why I Shoot

By: Steve Ware


Steve Ware is a freelance outdoor writer and consultant, and has been a competitive shooter for 30 yrs. He’s also a Daisy Air Gun Dealer and a Handgun Safety & Marksmanship Instructor.  Contact him at

I grew up in a small Southeastern Iowa town in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  As you can imagine firearms in the home were commonplace.  It was a simpler time and firearm vaults were nonexistent - they were just stored in cases in a closet in the basement.  As I grew up, it was not unusual to grab the Winchester 62A pump .22 Short rifle, jump on my bicycle and ride to the city dump to shoot tin cans and rats.  (My older brother has the Winchester I might add and I am jealous.)

An uncle gave me my first hunting gun, a Lefever side-by-side .410 shotgun; which I still have.  In fact, I still have my first four firearms.  The other three are a Remington model 58 20 gauge shotgun, a Marlin 39A and a High Standard Double Nine handgun.

Given this background you are probably thinking that yes someone who grew up in the Midwest during that time and in a small town would certainly shoot.  But my shooting has gone far beyond soup cans and rats.

The journey into competitive shooting happened quite by accident.  I was reading one of the more popular shooting magazines in 1984 and came across an article about an unusual shooting sport involving long-range handgun accuracy.  Competitors shot at steel chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams out to 200 meters/yards with centerfire handguns and to 100 yards with rimfire handguns.  It was called the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA).

I was living in Ohio at the time and discovered a club shooting this crazy sport just 30 miles from me, and my wife and I ventured there on a match day.  As a potentially new shooter, we were welcomed with open arms.  Of course, I had no idea of the course of fire (a timed event), rules, etc. but people were kind and explained things.  I had brought my trusty High Standard Double Nine and shot through a course of fire once managing to knock down two targets out of 40.  I was hooked and joined IHMSA immediately.

Looking back on a thirty-year career of competitive shooting answering the question, “Why do I shoot?” is fairly easy.  Because shooting has enriched my life and I could not imagine what I would have missed had I not joined the shooting sports.

First, I would have missed a plethora of friends.  Shooters are the kindest, most friendly bunch of people you will ever know.  Shooters will give you the shirt off their back if you need it.  As an example, one day I received a phone call out of the blue when my wife was battling stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.  A friend in the Bay Area wanted me to know that he was a universal blood donor and that we was willing to donate blood any time Irene might need it.  Just this year another shooting buddy and his wife invited my girlfriend and I to spend a week with them in their condo in Hawaii.

I have been invited and shot in Brazil twice.  We were treated like royalty, toured the country prior to and after the match, and had a wonderful time.

As an English major, I was asked to edit IHMSA’s newspaper, and I did that for four years.  That experience gave me entrance into the SHOT Show where I have had the opportunity to meet many corporate executives in the shooting sports.  The SHOT Show is one of my “must do’s” each year.

Shooting has also allowed me to use my education writing for magazines related to the shooting sports.  I enjoy exploring new products and informing my fellow shooters of what I have found.  After all, those of us in the shooting sports are always willing to share helpful tips concerning equipment, reloading, and shooting skills.

In addition to improving my life through unique experiences I could have only had through shooting and the addition of many friends that would not have been a part of my life, there is also the reality of life factor.

The reality of life is that we live in times that are substantially different than when I grew up.  We live in more dangerous times.  Additionally, the part of the country in which I live has extremely limited law enforcement resources.   At most, we have only 4 sheriff’s deputies on the road at any given time to cover over one million acres.  We have a jail with an inmate capacity of approximately 260.  Yet staffing resources are so low that maximum capacity is 125.  “Cite and release” is the method of treating all but the most serious of crimes.  Thus, handguns are the new American Express Card.  In other words, don’t leave home without one.

I am a shooter.  I shoot because it has enriched my life.  In shoot because it is fun and I enjoy it.  I shoot so that I have the skills necessary to defend myself and those around me.  I urge you to explore the shooting sports available to you where you live.  They are many and varied, and one is sure to speak to you.  Your life will be better for it.


steve ware's guns



L. to R. Marlin 39A, Remington Model 58, & Lefever Nitro Special.  High Standard Double Nine in foreground.”

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