Rifle relaxation

I was craving something this evening, something to settle my focus.  I had spent the day in the car, transporting our home-schooled kids to music lessons.  I read, and sat in the truck making calls, making appointments, the sort of thing I do when I’m stuck in a vehicle.  I love my job as chauffeur, don’t get me wrong!  But after a day of driving, and sitting and waiting, I needed something.  After a busy day, I re-discovered a source of perennial relaxation.

I pulled out my pellet-rifle.  I found a canister of .177 cal. lead pellets.  I found a thin piece of a plank, maybe an inch in width.  I stuck it in the side of a stump.  Then, backing up, I began to shoot.

My pellet-rifle is an RWS Model 34.  It’s a fine quality German rifle, of the single-stroke/single-shot variety.  It fires its projectile around 1000 feet per second.

It is, therefore, an accurate weapon as pellet-rifles go.  It has a smooth wooden stock, and a long, sleek blue barrel, with a hooded front sight and a notched rear-site.

I purchased it in 1993, before moving to South Carolina.  Compared with combustion arms, it is silent.  That’s one of the reasons I enjoy it.  Silent, fast, smooth, cool.  It rests in my hands with the same gravity as a larger, more deadly rifle.

Tonight, as I set up my innocuous target and curled myself into a ball, sitting cross-legged on the grass some 15 or so yards from my wooden quarry, I found myself (as I expected) quite relaxed.

My right hand found the pistol-grip and my index finger sought-out the recess where it would find the trigger.  My left hand, having cocked the loaded rifle, slid back to the area just before the trigger-guard, so that my left forearm was nearly vertical and rested on my left leg as I sat.

My eye, my post-cataract removal right eye, knew the drill.  I settled the post into the notch and moved it over the wood, timing myself the stock and barrel swayed with my breathing.  Almost no wind blew in the heavy, late-August humidity.  My finger found the trigger and squeezed, and the trigger broke past that critical, thrilling point and released the piston.

Smack!  Lead embedded in wood.  Repeat drill.  Smack!  Lead in wood.  Repeat…whoosh, lead in bushes.  Oh well.  By the end of the session, far more pellets landed as I wanted than were lost forever in the anonymity of our forest.

Shooting centers the mind.  This is why men, and women, have loved it so long.  Whether a long-bow, a sling, a musket or a rifle, there is a mental solemnity and dedication, a meditative nature to the precision of position, thought, observation, calculation, release and impact.

It is not, as so many think, an activity meant for the violent; it is an activity for the reflective and those who wish to have capacity, to have a purpose in their distractions.  It may translate into violence when need arises, but until then, it is relaxation, it is comfort, it is exercise, it is faith…faith that right actions lead to right results.

Shooting, for some of us, has hints of religion.  Maybe that’s why, when I put my pellet-rifle away, it is with gratitude and an increasing sense of calm.

In shooting, I have gone deep inside myself.  When I return, I am better than before.

I recommend it.


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