For people unfamiliar with guns, attitudes and opinions about them are often strongly informed by 1) movies and 2) the news. In the stories of both of these sources, shooting guns is above all an aggressive act. But in real life, the opposite is usually true.
In fact, target shooting may be the perfect zen practice.
The high-energy antics of action heroes are fun to watch, but the reality of target shooting is essentially the opposite. Shooting may be the stillest sport in the world: the process requires only the barely-perceptible shift of a single finger.
The focus of the shooter must be singular, allowing other thoughts and intention to fall away. In the same way that beginning meditation often involves staring at a candle (or another focus point), the front sight of the gun can become the shooter’s entire world. Every tiny muscle contraction matters. The breath – absolutely integral to meditation – is extremely important for the shooter. It is relaxed, but controlled.
For long-time shooters, there is a well known (but poorly identified) positive feeling that comes with shooting. It is sometimes jokingly called "trigger therapy", but those positive physiological responses are very real, and are a result of proper practice.
Most people who meditate do so in quiet places, so it may seem strange to suggest the practice works in such a loud environment. While silence is often pleasant, noise is actually perfect for practicing zen in the midst of chaos. The real world around us is almost entirely outside of our control. This, of course, is one of the primary reasons for owning a firearm. Learning to mentally accepting a noisy chaotic existence beyond our control while sinking into the gentle focus of slow, practiced breathing and fine motor control can be a unique, life-affirming experience.
Come shoot with us! If you approach it with the right mindset, you just might find it an incredibly peaceful and refreshing experience!