CTE and the Shooting Range

By Brett Pawlowski

My older son, a freshly-minted teenager, is a video game maven. He can dominate in any kind of first-person shooter game, fluent in any kind of weapon they can program into his virtual hands. But in the real world, he’s never even held a gun, much less fired one.

So I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks ago when he came to me and said he wanted to try. And as a result, we have a few hours booked at a local range tomorrow night with an instructor to teach him about firearm safety and let him try a few different guns on for size.

He may love it or he may hate it, but I’m excited that he wanted the experience. As I told a friend, if he’s ever at a friend’s house and someone pulls out a gun to show around, I want him to know firsthand what they can do, and not think of them as the fun gadgets he would otherwise only experience in video games.

What does this have to do with CTE? Everything! This is exactly the kind of firsthand, experiential learning we all know to be so important in the lives of our students. We can talk all day long about jobs and industries, but if all a student gets is conversation in the classroom, they won’t really have any idea at all what it’s like out there. Only by giving them firsthand experience, whether that comes in the form of site visits, job shadowing, internships or apprenticeships can they understand what we’re trying to teach them about.

I’m grateful that my son will get such a valuable lesson tomorrow night; thanks to all of you who give your students experiences that are just as impactful when it comes to career or industry exposure.