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A former marine spreads his knowledge of guns to college students By: Anthony Birch


irst, two years of school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Then, two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Now, he is on his second semester of being the chief instructor for the Wisconsin Gun Club. Nic Harsy has taken a different route than most do on the way to becoming a leader of a student org, but it may be the one of the most interesting. Nic Harsy, 25, is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying mechanical engineering. He does what all other mechanical engineering majors do, a lot of math and a lot of studying. He is also the chief instructor for the Wisconsin Gun Club at the university. What differs between Nic and the average engineering undergraduate, besides age, is what each did before continuing their careers in the College of Engineering.

“My job was war.” After graduating from a local Madison high school, Nic enrolled at UW-Madison. Then, in 2008 after two years at UW-Madison, he made the decision to

enlist in the Marine Corps. In May 2008, the week after finals, he attended boot camp. Things continued to move quickly as, after boot camp, Nic was stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA with the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines; a marine battalion that has served since World War II. He had the opportunity to attend Basic Reconnaissance Course, but halfway through the course, he decided to return to his unit in order to deploy to Afghanistan for combat operations in support of Operation: Enduring Freedom. “My

situations. Nic returned to Afghanistan in September 2011 as a squad leader. There, he lead missions, commanded his squad and was looked at by his squad for answers if things went wrong. “It’s phenomenal when I look back and think about what I did in the fraction of time I had to do it all,” Nic said. After completing his second tour of duty, Nic returned to the states in April 2012 and trained other Marines how to be squad leaders until March 2013. Then, he returned home to Wisconsin and started school again at UW-Madison that fall. While at a superbikes engineering club meeting, Nic heard one of his friends say that he was leaving to go to a gun club meeting.

job was war,” Nic said. “We went to Afghanistan, walked around, saw some stuff, did some stuff, and had some fun.” After returning to the United States in January 2011, Nic attended Infantry Squad Leaders Course. This was a course that, according to him, exposed him to the highest level of stress possible and taught him how to be a leader. Here, he learned that there is “always a solution to a problem, but some solutions are better than others.” This course taught him to think, specifically in high stress

“I called him a dirty liar,” Nic said. “Because UW-Madison would never have a gun club.” Well, it turns out UW-Madison did in fact have a gun club, and Nic had the most experience with guns at that meeting. He offered his services as a gun instructor that night and has been helping out ever since. In that role, he serves as the subject expert in regards to shooting. He looks to teach beginners how to shoot and how to get them involved and comfortable with firearms. Continued on page two...

Photos credit of the Wisconin Gun Club, Nic Harsy and Anthony Birch.

So why would a 25-year-old Marine veteran decide to spend his time freely teaching others who have never held a gun how to shoot? Simply, it’s his passion, and he takes pleasure in it. Shooting was his lifeline in the Marine Corps. The shooting, he says, is empowering, a confidence builder and is an easy way to show accomplishment.

“Because I have the knowledge, it’s almost irresponsible of me not to share it,” Nic said. Besides the fact that Nic gets to spread his skills to others, being in the gun club allows him to spend time with others that hold his values and think the way he does. Being in the club, he said, allows

him to be around the kind of people that make up the Marine Corps. “I think the best thing that happens is whenever I take someone who has never shot before and is completely against guns, hates everything about them, doesn’t even know why we need guns, take them shooting, and all of a sudden they love them and want to buy a gun that day,” Nic said. This may not seem believable, but Nic assured me that it has happened. He took a girl who was completely against guns and shooting, and her mindset changed. After shooting, she understood that she had the ability to defend herself and was equipped with the skills to use a firearm safely and effectively to do just that. “If I can convince her that shooting is a great idea, everyone can be open to the topic,” Nic said.

Photos credit of the Wisconin Gun Club, Nic Harsy and Anthony Birch.

The Marine Who Teaches  
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