Roberta asks: “Why do you shoot? Why do you carry, if you carry at all?”
I grew up plinking with a BB gun in the back yard. First with an old Crossman, then eventually a Sheridan air rifle. Perfect for dispatching the occasional starling. I also remember shooting frogs in my grandpa’s pond with his Winchester 1890 pump action .22 so he could have an occasional mess of frog legs for dinner. I started shooting trap when I was in college. It was offered, if you can believe it, as an elective. I actually received college credit for hand-loading shotgun shells and busting clay pigeons. To bad they didn’t offer a degree, it would have been a hell of a lot more fun than the one I ended up with. Trap shooting eventually became a family affair for a while, often taking part in the Tuesday night club shoots. Good times indeed!
When I moved to Missouri a decade ago, my shooting stopped for a while. The closest place to shoot trap was over an hour’s drive depending on traffic. I also didn’t know many trap shooters out here. It really is a social sport. It’s a lot more fun to compete against someone, and a lot easier if you have someone to pull for you. But I was busy, and traveling a lot, so some things had to fall by the wayside.
About 3 years ago, a friend introduced me to shooting pistols and I was hooked. Letting a man shoot a Colt Commander for the first time is like a drug dealer giving a potential junkie their first hit off a crack pipe. They either can’t get enough, or they are done.
A few months after my re-introduction to crack shooting, my brother unexpectedly and tragically died. Purely accidental, nothing nefarious. When you choose to do the work of grieving the death of someone you have loved, you don’t ever get a break. It never really stops, it just changes form. Even after 3 years. But damn, you do crave a break from it, even if it’s only for an hour. This is where shooting really really helped, and I discovered how stress relieving shooting can be. It’s just you, the gun, and the target. If you get the right concentration going, you don’t even hear the other shooters on the line and you forget about everything else going on in your world. Well, that is if that guy with the S&W .500 doesn’t show up , he’s pretty hard to ignore.
But there are also lots of other reasons….
I love the pursuit of the jagged hole. I will be able to chase the skills to produce that hole my whole life. I can always get better.
I love the competitive aspect of shooting as well. How many things can you do as you advance in years, and still be competitive against folks younger than you? I love that. I love going to the range and watching the older guys out with their .22 revolvers, thoughtfully, and sometimes very masterfully pumping lead into a paper target. I also love competing against myself.
I also carry a gun for the physical protection of myself and my family. I take their safety very seriously. I would have a very difficult time dealing with the fact that something happened to them and I didn’t make use of all the tools available to me to prevent their harm. I know that evil exists, and that it seeks to kill and destroy you, both physically and spiritually. God gives me the strength and tools to combat both. A gun is just one of the tools available to me. My brain is my primary weapon. But the saying goes… “God created all men, and Samuel Colt made them equal.”
There are many others, but I’ll leave this as my last one:
I shoot to pass along that part of our heritage to my children. I teach them so that they can make the informed decision to be a free person. If we don’t exercise our rights, and teach their proper usage to our children, we stand to lose our freedoms. Not just the right to bear arms, but all of them.
I find it interesting that often in the gun culture we equate owning a gun to making us free. I don’t believe the act of owning a gun makes a man free. A friend and I were having a conversation about the state of the Union, and he made the comment that at the “end of the day it will come down to a man having to look at his rifle and the front door and be willing to go out and die or go to jail or stay home with his kids and accept it….. It’s a tough thing to ask a man to sacrifice everything for something that in the end may not work.”
Very true words, and something we should all consider when talking about our freedoms and what we’d do to protect them. I have days in which I don’t know if I could make that choice. I pray that God would give me the strength and conviction that he gave our Founding Fathers to put my beliefs into action and not stand by and watch others bear the load.
Our Founding Fathers did a lot of work well before they took up arms. I pray that we never reach the breaking point to where arms are taken up in our country against our government. Now is the time to be tirelessly working within the system we have to protect and expand our freedoms. If we ever reach the breaking point that our Founding Father’s came to, it may not go so well the second time around……