The Next Generation of Gun Owners

An Interview with Ryan Gresham

by Gila Hayes

Long-term potential of any endeavor depends on involving people of all ages, since as the mature members age and pass on, it falls to the younger members to carry the effort forward. Armed citizens face the same reality, and we have to wonder if traditional youth shooting recruitment efforts, focused primarily on hunting and outdoors sports, is working. Owning self defense guns entails a different set of concerns, yet approaching youthful gun owners through self-defense issues is not a common outreach tactic.

Interested in how to involve younger gun owners in armed self-defense preparation, I recently queried third-generation armed citizen Ryan Gresham of GunTalk TV about young adults and firearms ownership.

Ryan is the grandson of famed outdoorsman Grits Gresham, who among other accomplishments is remembered as host of ACB’s American Sportsman series. Ryan’s father is Tom Gresham, host of GunTalk Radio and other broadcasts. Ryan hosts a number of the video episodes of GunTalk TV and Guns & Gear and he plays a vital role behind the scenes of these and other media productions.

At 34, Ryan bridges the Generation X and Generation Y groups who comprise the younger demographic of Americans. As a member of this age group and as a firearms industry professional, he has much to share with both older armed citizens and with his peers.

Let’s switch now to Q&A format, so you can hear Ryan’s ideas and experiences in his own words.

eJournal: Thank you for talking with us, Ryan. Before we get into the questions, could you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to your role as host on GunTalk TV and other broadcast programs.

Gresham: I grew up shooting and hunting, but the self defense, tactical side of things wasn’t nearly as prominent until 10 or 15 years ago, so I didn’t really grow up on that side of it.

I was more on the shooting and hunting side of things.

eJournal: Well, you’re a third generation Gresham, so family ties were surely an influence! Tell me, how young were you when you took your first shooting class?

Gresham: I was taught by my dad and grandpa to shoot, but it wasn’t until about six years ago that I did a class with Clint Smith. That was a lot more instruction than I had ever had, especially when it comes to handguns and self defense. Since then, I’ve done all kinds of classes, some with Tiger McKee and some with the VATA Group. I’ve done other classes at Gunsite. Some are media-type events, where it is a class, but not their whole program. Someone described these as “a social event interrupted by gunfire.”

People used to say to me, “Are you going to be a writer when you grow up?” and I’d say, “Absolutely not!” I ended up being in the business as a media person. Part of the reason is the need to have younger people on camera. I don’t really want to be on camera, but when I am, I think it makes the show a little more diverse because middle-aged white guys host most of the programs out there!

eJournal: Your leadership can make a big difference for 20-30 year olds who are wondering about guns for self defense. What motivates a 20-30 year old to own a gun?

Gresham: Traditionally, you were introduced to shooting guns through your dad, your grandpa, or your uncle. Mostly, that was about hunting, not about shooting competition, self defense or anything like that. Now, a lot of people who are in their 20s to early 30s didn’t grow up hunting or shooting, but they are interested in guns, but not because they want to start hunting. There’s more to hunting than just having a gun! You have to know how to hunt, you have to have access to land, and that’s all stuff a friend or relative has to introduce you to.