Why do we shoot?
By Special Guest Columnist Barrett Tillman
Prolific author and friend Barrett Tillman pondered the joy of shooting and came up with satisfying, heart warming, intellectually revealing insight. These ideas will resonate with shooters, and likely be incomprehensible to the gun averse. He conducted an informal survey, to add to his own ruminations, and found:
One important factor emerged early: concentration. As one national champion said, "When I'm shooting I can't think about anything else. I have to focus on what I'm doing, and that's relaxing for me." Any serious marksman agrees: mortgages, appointments, and politics simply vanish for the duration of the shot or series of shots. Shooting is, therefore, relaxing.
"But," exclaim the anti-gunners, "so is golf or tennis or tiddlywinks." Which may be true, as shooting holds some of the attraction found in other accuracy games, but there's a sensory difference: "Like golf except louder," according to a Florida pistol competitor. An Arizona attorney agrees: "The stronger the stimulus the stronger the response." Another Arizonan flatly explains, "I like recoil."
Others cited less tangible reasons, such as the California instructor who eloquently replied, "I enjoy the rich history that goes with skill at arms, as well as appreciating the engineering genius that gave birth to these artifacts. My involvement in shooting makes me feel part of the continuum of history and gives me a greater appreciation of the deeds of historical figures."
However, two key factors emerged from the poll: distance and control.
Shooting has to do with action at a distance: "You do something here, something happens over there," says a civilian marksman. A military professional agrees: "Man is a control freak. Not only does he want to be in control of himself, but also over everything he can manage… even at extended ranges."
Control -- especially self control -- is a recurring theme. A Marine sergeant explained, "I think it has to do with man overcoming and controlling the forces or laws of nature. Taking that a step deeper, I'm sure some would say that it all boils down to control."
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