As Struther Martin so eloquently put it in the film classic Cool Hand Luke, sometimes you need to “…git yer mind right.”
Well, them sandal-wearing, tree-hugging hippies might want to go sit at the beach and listen to the seagulls cry, but I prefer different sounds. I prefer the crack of gun fire and the ring of steel targets. For me, aromatherapy is the smell of burnt gunpowder followed by gun cleaning solvent and a light coat of oil.
People here in the office point out there is a noticeable difference in my demeanor when I return from the range. Apparently I’m more agreeable and tolerant. Some have even gone so far as to say I look happy when I come back from time spent at the range. But I quickly point out that “happy” is reserved for the time I spend with my kids; at the range or anywhere else.
Because I am, by nature, a list-maker there tend to be certain activities that allow me to “git my mind right” depending on the happenings of any given day. That is, my level of frustration over a certain situation can be reduced by specific shooting activities.
Here are some examples. This list should not be considered comprehensive and I do not claim that my particular form of psychotherapy will in any way help your particular brand of neurosis, but it’s worth a try.
Close-range pistol shooting: This activity improves my mood when things beyond my control go wrong. Let’s say I come out to start the day and notice I have a flat tire on the truck. The therapeutic sequence is as follows: Swear. Locate jack and tire tool. Loosen lug nuts and lift vehicle. Struggle to remove spare tire from underside of truck. Swear. Replace flat tire. Return to house to change clothes and clean up. Grab pistol bag, target stands and ammo. At some point during the day I will head to the range and fire three to five magazines at targets not more than 10 yards distant alternating between rapid fire and double taps.
High-volume .22 caliber rifle shooting: If I do something really stupid, like allow errors to slip into the magazine or forget to take the trash to the curb, I can usually correct my personal problem with the following therapeutic sequence: Notice error. Swear. Retreat into several minutes of quiet reflection and self-loathing. Grab .22 bag and select suitable rifle and targets and at least 500 rounds of ammo. Retire to range to perforate targets until they are unrecognizable.
This therapy offers me a couple options. I have several Ruger 10/22 rifles and a GSG-5. If you have not seen the GSG-5, it is a near clone of the H&K MP-5. Loading up several 25-round magazines for the GSG-5 is like preparing for a birthday party. You just know what’s coming next is going to be fun. The one problem I’ve encountered revolves around trying to destroy the Newbold targets I like to use. You just can’t kill a Newbold target.
Hollow points do some damage, but I’ve put hundreds of rounds into these polymer wonders and they are still holding up. If I really need to vaporize something, I’ll stop at the trap range and pick up clay targets the trapshooters have missed. I can lean them on the berm and shoot at them until they are nothing but dust.
That reminds me of something.
Clay target shooting: If I ever get to feeling too good about myself, I just go to the trap range and allow that activity to “adjust my center.” Examples of reasons that send me to the trap range might include things like getting the magazine to the printer on time, keeping the budget numbers in order, or catching the eye of a particularly fetching young lady. As you may have guessed, I don’t spend much time on the trap range, unless I’m picking up targets to use for the high-volume .22 shooting.
Long-range rifle shooting: Any dealings with an attorney or politician seem to make me want to control my breathing and carefully place rounds on a very distant target. Doing so helps me calm down and keep things in perspective. I just can’t focus on how frustrated I am when I’m trying to focus on breath control, sight picture and trigger press.
I have noticed something about my trips to the range. Co-workers seem to keep problems a secret and come to me with requests only after I’ve spent time behind the trigger. They read me like a book.
About the Author: Kevin Michalowski is the former Senior Editor of Gun Digest the Magazine and Tactical Gear Magazine.
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