Monday, February 07, 2005

The Joy of Shooting

I looked over this week’s blog entries. I see that I covered political issues, made clarion calls to defend our gun rights, made some links to other blogs that covered similar topics much better than I could. I covered what it is like to be a female gun nut. But I left something out of all of those posts: Joy.

I left that ingredient out because we gunnies feel so beleaguered that we forget the joys of gun ownership. We see governments trying to infringe on our rights. We see academic assclowns like Saul Cornell spew nonsense that too many of our fellow citizens read and believe. It is frustrating and we want to fight back. While we must fight back, let’s never forget the simple joys of shooting and gun ownership. This post is dedicated to those joys.

Someone at work asked me why I shoot and own guns. It wasn’t a tendentious question. She had never touched a gun and wanted to understand why I like firearms. I told her it is because I love shooting and that owning certain guns makes me happy.

Shooting and collecting are my hobby, my joy, my passion. I don’t know why. Maybe there was something in my childhood (perhaps shooting shotguns when I was eight and barely able to point the thing without my Dad’s help). Maybe it is because I was once blessed with excellent eyesight and a steady hand. Maybe it’s in the genes. I don’t know the origins and I don’t care.

Joy is the only word I know for what I have experienced with guns. They say runners experience a high, that there is a zen of archery, and that golfers experience something (I have no idea what). I will never run a marathon or make a hole in one, but I have experienced comparable joy while shooting.

Here are some of the joys, or highs, or zen of shooting--whatever you want to call it--I have experienced:
  • shooting at a distant target and producing a group of holes that I could cover with a quarter;
  • shooting clay pigeons out of the air time and time again;
  • winning trophies and NRA medals when I was little;
  • buying a revolver;
  • buying a shotgun;
  • examining a Thompson submachine gun;
  • and much more.
Most importantly, I have experienced zen-like states while shooting. I don’t fall into these states all the time and when I do the feeling is almost indescribable. Sometimes while shooting, I shut the world out. My being is centered on aiming the sights at a distant target, squeezing the trigger, repeat, reload, repeat. I’m not aware that anyone is near me. I block out all distractions. I am unconscious of time, only aware of the gun and the target. In this state, if I am shooting at a clay pigeon, it seems to move in slow motion. As I swing the shotgun over it the pigeon seems as large as a full moon. If I am shooting at a paper target, I fixate only on where my next shot will hit. I shoot best when I am in this state.

I love to improve my shooting at the range even if I don't achieve zen. The act of shooting clears the mental cobwebs. I like reading about guns and I love starting a new gun sport with the attendant fumbling, missed shots, and pure incompetence. I love how I become better, more competent over time. There are other gun sports I want to try including Cowboy Action Shooting. I want to do more long-distance rifle shooting and go to the Boomershoot next year. I want to shoot silhouettes at long-distances.

Collecting offers other joys. When I buy a new gun, I get the joy of taking it apart and shooting it. I have marveled at the uncanny quality of the machined steel inside a 1920s Luger. I have traced the intricacy of a revolver’s action as I replace every part I just cleaned. I have felt the butter-smooth action of a Krag-Jorgensen rifle’s bolt, and marveled at the design of the straight-pull bolt on a Swiss Schmidt-Rubin rifle.

All of this happiness comes from guns. The anti-gun people may think I am crazy, but I am not. People get joy from driving and owning cars, from owning a rare stamp, or from hitting a golf ball. Yes, guns were made to and are capable of killing animals and human beings. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be used for sport or collecting. The gun does not absorb evil. It is just a tool. People have used them for evil purposes, but there is no object that has not been used for an evil purpose.

So for whatever reason, shooting and collecting guns are my passions.

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