Not surprisingly, shooting sports can be incredibly therapeutic and provide a boost not only to your physical well-being but your mental as well. Whether you are competitive in nature and enjoy matching your skills against other professionals, or simply enjoy an afternoon plinking with friends, shooting is an excellent influence on building confidence in your physical and mental thought processes, brain sequencing structure, and self-esteem.
Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Although many unfamiliar with firearms may think that all shooting can offer is stress relief, gun ownership – such as through bb guns – is very much a part of respect and control, and the stress relief it offers is one of leaving frustrations behind to focus on the attention shooting requires.
Responsible gun ownership
What a lot of people miss, is that with over 40% of American households in possession of legally owned firearms, they are in contact with gun owners much more often than they realize. Gun ownership surrounds hunting, competition, and self-defence uses, and involves pride in their responsibility towards safety and use.
Being comfortable with shooting is part of that responsibility, so visiting the range regularly is important to master the handling, loading, and cleaning of a gun. Knowing how to find a target and shoot calmly and in control is part of knowing what to do in a scenario that requires you to draw- no matter what the occasion.
Plus, hunters want to ensure they have a human, clean shot to avoid any mishaps with their prey that could cause suffering. Competition shooters need clear, precise shots, and self-defence shooters want to be in control when under pressure.
Health benefits of shooting sports
As mentioned, getting to the range is part of responsible gun ownership, but if you aren’t a gun owner, or are a new gun owner, you will be surprised to learn just how beneficial making this a regular habit can be. Luckily, if you do not own a gun, there are many indoor gun ranges that offer rentals and lessons to help you learn how to safely handle and shoot, and also allow you to familiarise yourself with various firearms, so you can find what is most comfortable for you.
This practice will help you hone your shooting skills, stay familiar with the guns you own, and also provide muscle memory. While you are keeping your guns in good working order, you also are sharpening your physical and mental skills.
- Mental sharpness. Staying focused, learning to ignore distractions, and challenging your knowledge of gun use and other firearm-related hobbies – such as learning how to reload ammunition – are all ways to stay mentally sharp and alert. Paying attention to everything that is going on around you due to the proximity of other shooters, and learning to acquire a target quickly and effectively help build your mental skills.
- Physical toughness. Loading, unloading, cleaning, lifting, holding, aiming, and setting up and checking targets are all part of the physical process when you head to the gun range. Rarely will you sit still, and even though the work isn’t strenuous, it is consistent. Plus, firing and holding a target helps strengthen your wrist, improve balance, and also tighten up core muscles. This all contributes towards a healthier heart rate zone and overall improved health.
- Eye focus conditioning. You might not know this, but you can help stave off issues with your eyes with regular eye-focusing exercises. People with glasses are already aware of the exercises they can do to help sharpen their focus and vision but may be unaware of the benefits. Since shooting requires you to focus on multiple targets using your gun sights, you help strengthen the eye through the practice of seeing both near, and distant locations.
- Self-control and mental discipline. Not only are you supporting mental sharpness, but you also are honing your self-control and mental discipline skills when shooting on the range. Shooting stimulates adrenaline, and it also can be distracting, but taking control of your physical and mental state when shooting is incredibly helpful to day-to-day events as well, and can make you more aware of your own responses to various situations.
- Mental and physical confidence. Holding a firearm and knowing how to handle and shoot it safely introduces the knowledge of the power you have control of. It can make you feel both nervous and scared when you are new to it, and also confident and in control once you are more comfortable. But it is always important to acknowledge what you are holding and the familiarity that comes with training with it- and this provides an excellent confidence booster to many. It allows them to process this power and fully understand what it means to have it in control.
- Adrenaline control. Shooting sports most definitely raise your adrenaline which sends messages to the liver and breaks down glycogen – to feed your body glucose that gives energy to the fight or flight response. This also boosts your serotonin levels which creates a more positive emotional response. This means shooting makes you feel good. This excitement helps your focus and control as well and allows you to remember it when in similar feeling situations for a more healthy response.
Shooting sports are so much more than filling a freezer, protection, or fun competition. It is a great way to support your overall health, both mental and physical, and provides the means to build new skills and support your confidence and overall well-being.
Robert Haynes, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.