Why I ShootbyJagFarlane©
Yeah, I know, firearms are a hot topic these days and for good reason. One can hardly read the news without hearing some story relating to them and I apologize to those who come onto this site for a reprieve on the topic. However, this isn't a rant to the legality of the issue, those opinions I'll keep to myself. Instead this is just me putting to paper what being able to shoot has meant to and given me.
I grew up with firearms in the house, they were kept locked up in a steel cabinet and Dad had the sole key on his key ring. As kids we were just taught to not mess with them and when we grew old enough we were taught how to use them. There was never a temptation to use them when Dad wasn't around and it was a thrill the couple of times a year we got out to the range. That's just the way it was. As we grew older though, time became a precious commodity and there seemed to be less and less time to go to the range till eventually we just stopped going altogether.
Fast forwards a few years and I'm about four and a half years into my six year enlistment in the Navy. Things were going pretty well and I was looking forwards to wrapping up the last bit of my enlistment and moving on with my life. My ship was due to leave in short order and I was spending one of the last nights enjoying a comfortable bed before trading it in for a rack. In the morning when I awoke something seemed not quite right with my vision, like a black curtain covered half the vision from one eye. So I did what any person in the internet age would do, I Googled it and found something about a retinal detachment. Well that was about all the motivation I needed to get my butt out to the hospital and a couple of hours later it was confirmed to be so. Hey for once searching the symptoms turned out to be right! Just wish it hadn't been that correct.
Anyways, got the surgery needed and avoided going blind in that eye but was settling into a long recovery time. A few months into this and I still didn't have great vision from my right eye, the one I'd had surgery on. That also had happened to be my dominant eye so it did make some things interesting to say the least. To say I was frustrated was an understatement, my freedom was gone as I didn't trust driving myself and got around due to a thankfully half decent bus system.
How I got there I'm still not fully sure but one day I found myself standing in a local gun shop. I was just there to admire some of the firearms was what I told myself but it didn't take long till I had wandered up to the range. My non-dominant eye's vision was still crystal clear so I decided to try out of one the .22's, a small caliber for those who don't know. Nothing very powerful but cheap to shoot, I think with range fee, rental fee, and a box of ammo it was still under $30.
It took a couple of minutes to calm my nerves, it was my first time holding a firearm in years and while I was confident that I could put all of the rounds safely downrange and through the paper the nerves were still there. Slowly the pistol was raised and the sights lined up, the first round loosed at the paper not that there was a reaction in the paper and being such a small caliber it's hard to see the holes. The target was reeled in and closely examined till I found the tiny hole that was punched into the paper.
Elated, I sent the target back and emptied the rest of the magazine into it, each shot slow and deliberate. How long I spent there is up for debate but I went through the 100rd box of ammo and ended up with a hole just a little bigger than my fist in the center of the target. More importantly though, I'd gained a lot more confidence than I had realized that I'd lost. It was something I'd needed, physical proof that I could move on after the surgery, that I could overcome the drastic change in my vision.
It took about a year to get all of the surgeries I ended up needing done and for the bulk of that year I wasn't able to see from my right eye. Yet whenever I was feeling down there was always the range and the chance to reprove to myself that yes, I could indeed overcome this. That's what shooting gave me, my confidence back and that is why I continue to participate in it to this day.