This is the question that is always out there. Why guns? Why shooting sports? Why not golf… or tennis… or something a little more sedate for a woman of my age and profession? I can only answer for myself, but for me, there are a variety of very good reasons why.
My first reason, as I’ve stated in previous posts is “Family Tradition”. Although Action Pistol and 3-Gun weren’t on my father or grandfather’s radar, firearms and the outdoors were a very large part of their lives. It was a part of who they were. My childhood was filled with family game dinners of grouse, pheasant, woodcock and venison; and a day afield with the dog was something my father would have chosen any day over a trip to Hawaii. I don’t have many prospects at this point in my life for going back and picking-up wingshooting skills, but target shooting and skeet is something that IS within my reach.
My second reason for enjoying shooting is that the skills acquired in target shooting are transferable. I can’t use golfing skills to defend my life, and I can’t use tennis skills to put meat on the table; but the shooting sports teach skills that CAN be used to do both of those things if I need them to. In short, my sporting life offers real-world applicability.
Another reason I enjoy shooting sports is historical. Marksmanship (or womanship?) is a skill that has been prized since the Dawn of Man. Marksmanship (whether with spear, bow, or slingshot) meant survival both for the individual and for the tribe/clan. In more modern history, since in the 19th century, marksmanship – in the form of archery and javelin, and several shooting sports – has been a part of the Olympics Games every four years. While I can never hope to be a multi-gold medalist shotgunner like Kim Rhode, or a biathlete like twins Tracy and Lanny Barnes, I can enjoy local shooting sports competitions, and try to be the best that I can be at whatever level I can achieve.
Another personal reason that I enjoy shooting is that I have found the shooting sports helpful in my medical practice – and no, I don’t usually treat gunshot wounds. Shooting sports – especially timed ones- are helping me learn to better manage adrenaline. You may not think that a small town general pediatrician has a lot of adrenaline stress to deal with, but you would be wrong. Trying to keep a tiny, sick, premature baby alive until the NICU Transport Team arrives from 20 miles away can be very adrenaline-inducing. The pediatrician may seem calm on the outside, but on the inside, her heart is racing and her brain is trying to process a great deal of information in a short period of time. This is where the shooting sports come in. In IDPA and USPSA, half the battle is being able to keep your stage plan in your head, and adjust it on the fly, while under the adrenaline stress induced when the timer goes Beeeeep! Practicing how to deal with the adrenaline rush when the situation is NOT life and death can be very helpful for the times when it IS.
I also enjoy shooting, because it is an “individual” activity, that is still a group effort. I can be the lowest scoring shooter at the match, but I am still part of my squad. I am scored individually, but I still need to be a “team player” – pasting targets, taking a turn on the score sheets, etc. Even if I am at a lower skill level than others on my squad, I can still interact with them and learn from their experience. I have not found this to be as true in sports like cycling and skiing. In those sports, I beat myself up (and then gave up) trying to keep up with those that were at a higher skill level than me. My friends who were higher level skiiers went off to the double black diamond slopes while I puttered around on easy blues. If I saw them at all, it was at lunch. I did enjoy skiing with friends, but it really meant that I skied alone. It got old. Not so in shooting, in my experience. In shooting, I might be on the same squad as a top level competitor. We each get our turn, everyone helps paste targets, and everyone is social. AND I get to watch them do their thing – which can be amazing to see. I learn a lot by watching.
Shooting appeals to my inner perfectionist – there is always more accuracy and a better time to “shoot” for (pun intended). There is also a nearly unlimited learning curve. If I get bored with a particular aspect, there is always a different caliber or firearm type or style of shooting to branch into. For instance, I currently have no desire to branch into Cowboy Action shooting, or get into the minutiae of reloading my own ammo, but those detours will always be available if I change my mind. Then, in addition to all that, there is all of the paraphernalia to be acquired if one has a bent toward retail therapy. The shooting sports offer nearly limitless options if you are a person with a thirst for learning new things as I am.
In summary, I’m not a world-class shooter. I won’t be winning any medals in my lifetime. Nobody talks about me at trade shows. But I really have a helluva good time. I hope explaining the above may help someone who doesn’t know anything about the shooting sports (or might even be borderline hostile toward them) understand a little better the motivation behind pursuing them. I’m only one woman, but I don’t think I’m terribly atypical.