Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Zen of Shooting Sports


Today my husband and I went target shooting at the range. I haven't done that in years. Mostly because recoil plus herniated discs plus arthritis equals pain. I finally got a .22 that I can shoot without really hurting myself, though holding the unaccustomed weight out at arms extension made me pretty sore. Thankfully, there's almost no recoil and I can now practice a sport I really enjoy.

I started out in the shooting sports with archery, won a varsity letter in college and came in third (as a 3 person team) in the New York State Empire Games. I was really good, and I almost got to go to Olympic trials. My dad would not allow me to fly, so I didn't get to go. What I loved about archery was the zen-ness of it. My head is usually way too busy and chaotic, and while I have tried meditation, I have never succeeded in shutting off my internal monologue that way. But with archery, I found myself concentrating really intently on hitting the target, almost thinking the arrow into the bullseye. It was relaxing and fun.

My husband (high school sweet heart) and I started dating again after I finished law school. He was also a college archery geek, and since leaving school, he got into pistol shooting competitively. There is a really fun sport called pin shooting where you try to shoot a bunch of bowling pins off a table in the fastest time. He won a bunch of trophies at it, and he talked me into going to the range with him.

I found that pistol shooting has the same meditative quality as archery, once you get used to the noise and can tune it out. (It's loud even with hearing protection...) But after my accident, the recoil just hurt too much, and I pretty much gave it up. My husband had fairly large caliber guns (which is what you need to move the mass of a bowling pin off a table), and those tend to kick pretty hard. For years I wanted a Smith & Wesson Model 41, which is a .22 caliber competition class pistol. It shoots teeny bullets and has very little recoil, but it is a very expensive indulgence that we never seemed to have the money for. Governor Cuomo's new (unconstitutional and hopefully soon-to-be-overturned) laws here in New York which outlaw purchasing 10 round magazines after April 15th made it likely I would never get to own one, because they are a rare gun and backordered 2 years from the manufacturer, and come with a standard 10 round magazine. But we finally had the funds, and a stroke of insane luck found me a second hand pistol that had only had ten rounds fired through it. My amended pistol permit came through Thursday, and I picked it up from our local FFL dealer after passing the required NICS background check.

Today I finally got to try it out for the first time. That target above is the first time I've shot in 19 years, and while it is not the best I ever shot, I am not unhappy about how I did. Hopefully I will get good enough to shoot competitively. I'm going to give it a shot!

New York State law prohibits kids from shooting or being present on a firing range till they are 12. My son has already been taught gun safety, and it is something that we discuss on an ongoing basis. My guns live in gun safes. I am hoping to get a (disability-friendly) very light pull bow some day so I can teach the boy archery. Once he demonstrates the skill and seriousness that requires, and is old enough, my husband and I will teach him to shoot. I realize my hobby is not politically correct, but marksmanship is a sport, and an enjoyable one that families can share. My guns have never hurt anything but paper, and I intend to keep it that way. Though knowing they are available for self defense and defense of my family also gives me peace of mind, I sincerely hope I never have to use them for that purpose.

Hopefully this gives people a little insight into the average legal gun owner.

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