Some of my earliest childhood memories are of me out shooting with my uncles – chilly December dawns with a moist blanket of dew covering the countryside, the morning mist slowly fading away and the smell of burning cordite…Divine!
I was introduced to guns at the “ripe old age” of 6 and acquired my first gun (a .22 Cal Air Rifle) when I was 8. It was a gift from my uncle and I was absolutely thrilled. As I slowly honed my skills during those initial years, one of my Dad’s friends introduced me to target shooting and later sub-junior events at state level competitions. I was hooked!
I love shooting for many reasons. In the first place, holding a gun means that I am not helpless in the face of aggression coming from another. I also love the very act of shooting, for one simple reason, it is the ultimate form of self-control. If I pull the trigger, and the bullet doesn’t go where I wanted it to go, I, and I alone, am at fault. In other words, I have to practice self-control when I shoot, there is no point in losing my temper when I miss, no point in blaming the gun, bullet or sights. I simply have to take a deep breath, and try again. It is a constant process of self-improvement, and to achieve a goal of perfection, or even near-perfection, brings me immeasurable satisfaction.
At the end of every shooting session at the range, I come back at peace with myself and with the world. The noise of shooting, the power I’ve unleashed (and which I’ve had to control), the calmness which I’ve had to achieve, all combine to bring me into a state of Zen-like stillness. It’s something everyone should experience. I’ve taken many people shooting with me, a lot who have never shot before. Without exception, they’ve all come away as fans of the sport, and wanted to do it again.
There’s another thing that’s not just personal; and it’s a guy thing. Guns are almost perfect machines. When you take one apart, and see what I call its “simple complexity”, you are in awe as to what happens – cams move, sears disengage, springs coil back, metal moves along metal, all within tolerances of thousandths of an inch, and all within a couple millionths of a second. Then you reload, and do it all over again. I have a pistol in my collection which was manufactured circa 1942, and it still works as advertised. Find me another machine that still works about as well as the day it was made sixty two years ago, has detonated and contained a mini-explosive device many thousands of times, lasted through who knows what weather, endured rough handling and neglect, and travelled through at least two continents (it was made in U.S.A, for the Army). Like I said, the love of so perfect a mechanism is a guy thing.
In any event, I make no excuses for my attachment to guns, nor do I care about the opprobrium or condescension of others. I have more than one gun, for the same reason that other people own more than one CD album, and more than one performer withal. I don’t need more than, say, two or three guns (actually, I once worked out that eight would be about my minimum), but gun ownership has little to do with need anyway. Except for self-protection – you can read about that in the entertaining Parable of the Sheep for an explanation so simple that even a child can understand it.
Responsible gun ownership requires a strict adherence to safety and I have attempted to put together the basic rules of firearm safety here. Even if you do not own or intend to own a firearm, please take the time to read these tenets of gun safety.
If you would like to know more about (my favourite sport) Skeet shooting, you can read more here.
If you wish to know about the state of gun ownership and gun control in India you can read more here. Finally I would strongly recommend you read Eric S Raymond’s “Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun: What Bearing Weapons Teaches About the Good Life” to understand how gun owners feel.