Guns, to me, are married to the idea of killing. In my mind, you cannot have killing without guns and you cannot have guns without killing. A lot of that is societal, but most of that is due to my upbringing. My family, mostly conservative blue collar types, hunted a lot. When I was a kid, we'd go dove and duck hunting whenever possible. This exposed me to a lot of shotguns and beer.
The very first weapon I fired was my father's shotgun, which, being a Remington 870 12 gauge, was not exactly a kid-sized weapon. The shells are an inch or so around, 3 inches long, and carry 1.5 to 3 drams of powder. My father was actually holding the gun, though it was against my shoulder.
I hurt for two weeks from the recoil. My ears rang for two days.
I didn't get a chance to shoulder another gun until 13 or so, and the weapon was an AR-7, a .22 caliber rifle that breaks down and stores in the plastic stock. It was my borther's gun which he'd received for Christmas (I'd been given a guitar, which should tell you something about our development).
I was a decent shot with it, though with a short barrel and .22LR cartridges it was not an accurate weapon. In high school I had friends who were competitive pistol shooters using Ruger or Buckmark .22 pistols. I would borrow one of their few Ruger pistols and shoot close groupings from 25 and 50 yards, but I never pursued the sport. Both friends became medalists in shooting competitions, one going on to Olympic shooting.
But years passed for me, and my mind fused with the idea that guns == crime, that guns are killing machines. And maybe they are. Maybe they aren't. These days, I find myself avoiding that discussion with the same aversion that I avoid the abortion debate. The discussion is a diversion, useless. I refuse the debate.
I never hunt. I have a grocery store really close by and can buy food. I don't need to kill it. I am not a fan of most venison, and don't like game birds. If required, yeah, I'll eat me some dove cacciatore. But not if I have chicken handy.
There's a segment of society out there, though, who shoot little holes in big pieces of paper. And it turns out that's what I dig: seeing how close I can some to consistant groups of holes in pieces of paper over the course of X rounds of ammo. It requires....something. Discipline? Control? Understanding of physics and weather and affects of heat on metal and...and...yeah. Voodoo with some skill.
I recently picked up a rifle, a Remington bolt action. This after years of no gun ownership. I went shooting recently with a Marine sniper and a Navy SEAL, and they taught me a thing or four about shooting a target. After one morning of hitting a paper target from 200 yards, I was hooked.
And it turns out I'm pretty good at it. With a .308 caliber Remington, I managed to hit groupings of .5 iand .75 inches (3 and 4 round groups) from 100 and 200 yards. My instructor, a Marine named Wil, was the only one not surprised. "You take instruction well, and you have the core knowledge. No surprise." Everyone else sees my bullseye groups (6 shots each within .75" of each other at 200 yards) and sort of freaks out.
I found that when I am shooting, I have to be in a space the is not at all related to violence, to any sort of testosterone nonsense. I sit in a vaccuum, numb. I can't think of anything except my breathing, my heart rate, my body position. I pay close attention to the amount of tension I have, and reduce it. I stare at the target through the sight, center the bullseye, and close my eyes. I breathe deep, slow, and open my eyes.
If the bullseye is still centered, I press the trigger. If the bullseye has moved, I re-position my body, per instruction. Natural point of aim attained, I breathe. At the bottom of an exhale, in that half-second before inhale, I gently press the trigger stright back. No pulling it, no squeezing it. Press, straight back.
The shot flies. Since I started shooting my own rifle (a Remington Model 700 SPS in .223), 90 percent of those shots hit within a grouping of .75 inches of where I aimed them. I hit the bullseye a lot.
I am pretty good at this. That isn't bragging, as I think anyone with a decent rifle can do this.
You just relax. You empty your head. You find the target. Press the trigger. Soft, smooth.
Every other thing is a distraction.
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