Range Therapy: Aiming for the Zen Ring

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As I write this, I am about an hour and a half removed from the range. Immediately after work, I dropped in at the local range to test out the Beretta Model 84 Cheetah that I recently purchased from J&G Sales. If you are following me over on Facebook, you’ll know that I purchased the pistol because several hundred followers voted “yes” after I made a short video asking whether or not I should buy the little .380.

Maybe next time I could crowdfund the project. I figure if people want me to buy a gun, everybody could throw in $1 to help me out. But I digress.

Gun Range Time as Therapy

I spent about an hour at the range with a friend of mine. As we walked in, she said, “Thanks for coming along. It has been a rough day, and I need this.”

That got me to thinking: Is trigger therapy a real thing? Seriously, I’m asking. Can time at the range help improve your mood and ease the tensions of a stressful day?

Yes, I enjoy going to the range, and, typically, shooting does put me in a better mood, but is the act of shooting a gun on a firing range therapeutic?

Tea Time

I’m going to liken shooting to the Japanese tea ceremony. While procedures of the ceremony vary from school to school and even from season to season, the overriding elements of the ceremony are ritual and order. During the ceremony, every element of the service of the tea is practiced in a very specific way and with reverence. Schools have been established to teach the traditional methods, and students attend regular classes, sometimes over many months, to learn the subtle nuances of the service. Students can earn certificates of completion as they master different elements of the service.

People who perform the tea ceremony often do so with intense focus. Focusing on details can push other thoughts aside, thus bringing a feeling of calm.

And so it is with shooting. If one were to take careful note of every movement, from the loading of the magazine to the racking of the slide or from the focus on the front sight to the gentle press of the trigger, would it not be akin to the careful and deliberate serving of the tea?

Zero In on Zen

Most of the time while shooting, I am thinking about how the gun is performing and how I can convey those elements to you, the reader. But, I suppose a good day at the range could turn into something very close to meditation. You just block out everything else and focus on safely and accurately putting rounds in the center of the bullseye. See the front sight. Notice that the target is slightly blurred. Feel the press of the trigger on your finger as the pressure slowly builds. Be smooth. Always smooth. The crack of the shot should surprise you. See the muzzle flash and watch the sights settle back on the target.

Yep. That settles it. Shooting is therapy. Not only do I feel better after leaving the range, but I also feel better just writing about it.

Focus.