It may seem contradictory combined with the mainstream belief that guns are pure evil, but it’s a proven fact shooting guns is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. In fact, shooting in a safe and controlled environment, such as a shooting range, can enhance your mental performance significantly.
The question is: Why?
To start with, shooting a gun properly requires training and discipline. And a lot of it. To hit a target, you need to keep your eye on it, aim and focus. This laser-like focus and determination are key, especially when done often enough.
In the day of virtual simulations and things being handed over on a silver platter, shooting requires a lot of work, especially if you want to become good at it.
The brain is a wondrous organ: placed in a similar situation often enough, it adjusts accordingly and performs better. Simply put, practice makes perfect.
The more you practice, the better your brain becomes at aiming and focusing; the faster you can get your head in the game; and the more likely you are to make accurate calculations on how to make the best possible shot.
This comes with a series of mental health benefits:
1. The Focus
Living in the 21st century brings a lot of advancements, but has some drawbacks as well. How would you rate your ability to focus on a singular task placed in front of you? As I’m writing this article, there is music playing, and I make frequent pauses to play with my cats. Unfortunately, I’m not alone at this.
A lot of us need to be entertained continuously, switching between media seamlessly and having a rough time staying on one task. This is what a sport such as gun shooting can help with.
When you have a task of hitting a specific spot on a target, you need to ignore all distractions and focus solely on your objective. This would be difficult for anyone in the beginning but can have a largely positive impact on your mental health and performance in the long-term.
The focus the sport develops allows your brain to zero-in on the task at hand and increases your concentration levels—which is something that can help in all areas of your life, and your work life, in particular, leading to better-fulfilled tasks and a happier environment.
2. The Mental Discipline
Building upon the previous point, mental discipline comes hand in hand with focus. With shooting, 90% of the work is done in your head. Many marksmen believe that the success of your shot is determined before you aim.
To aim your weapon, you need to do a series of logical exercises and calculations in your head, to take into account all possible solutions at hand. How will you get from point A, the bullet in your gun, to point B, the bullet hitting the right point of the target?
This is even truer when the shooting range is set outside, as the conditions are less sterile and you need to account for wind and natural slopes on which the target is set.
This spills over to the other situations of your life, and you’ll soon find yourself thinking ten steps ahead and employing tactics you’d never consider otherwise. You’re bound to be more creative and solution-oriented.
3. The Adrenaline
Many sports appeal to adrenaline-junkies as the ultimate ones to get their rush from, and yet no one can deny the exhilarating effect holding a gun can have. The spike of adrenaline you get every time you’re at the range will increase your levels of energy, and changes will start happening in your body on a chemical level.
Increased levels of adrenaline will signal your liver that it’s time to start breaking down glycogen, which is a substance with the job of providing your body with glucose, the main source of energy of the body.
It goes without saying that a spike of adrenalin is something good for the body, especially in smaller doses, as you’ll start feeling more energized and able to perform, leading to the production of serotonin in your system and increase of happiness levels.
4. The Confidence
When you first start taking shooting lessons, gun safety is drilled into your head, the rules becoming something you could recite in your sleep. You become aware of the great responsibility that comes with handling a dangerous weapon, and your confidence builds correspondingly.
Having more confidence increases your social skills and makes business interaction easier, building your courage in the process. All in all, it’s very beneficial to your sense of self and mental health in turn, and can have large positive impacts on your career and personal lives.
5. The Stress Relief
Our busy lives often don’t leave enough time for living in the moment. We’re very much preoccupied with what will come next, forgetting that every second count.
This is not true at the gun range. When there: you need to be extremely focused on the task at hand, as you’re handling a dangerous object. In practice, this signifies a slowing of your hectic everyday pace and more room for just breathing and just being— a welcome relief.
Experienced marksmen find that spending as little as an hour at the range can help calm and center them, feeling more relaxed and more focused simultaneously.
Gun shooting is very much unique in the combination of benefits it provides practitioners with: confidence, focus, mental discipline, stress belief and an adrenaline boost are just some of the most prominent perks of gun shooting with a direct impact on a marksman’s mental health.
Different activities and sports come with various advantages, and gun shooting is no different, with the vast improvement it does to your posture, stamina, muscle strength, as well as the mental effects it has on your system, it’s a small wonder why not more people are opting for this sport.
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