When I was a teenager, I ran with a group of guys who really enjoyed the sound of breaking glass. Anytime there was an opportunity to dispose of a broken appliance, or a busted television, there was almost a stampede of young male feet trying to get the thing loaded into a vehicle and driven out to some chunk of public land so that all of the group could share in it's violent demise. Sometimes it was hammers, or bats, or crow bars that did the killing. There was something about loud and destructive noise, the sharp crackle of shattering glass, that seemed to bring some kind of release for all of us. Regardless of what was going on in our lives at that point in time, that release was therapeutic.
There is the pursuit. Well past the age of consent and settled into behaving like an adult, I made the decision to purchase my own firearms. I've started to build on the collection that I always dreamed of. I take a great deal of care to do my homework before each purchase. Researching manufacturers and calibers, lurking gun forums to draw on the expertise of experience. Owning one is a huge responsibility and not one that can be taken lightly. That said, I enjoy a good obsession and performing these kinds of investigations into things I'm interested in has always eased my mind.
There is the adventure of the hunt. Venturing out for months of observation, days of hiking, and receiving only mother nature's gift of freezing temperatures and snow. While it seems a huge effort and significant expense for the chance at putting meat in the freezer, there is just something about being out in the wilderness that is relaxing. Learning to track or becoming familiar with animal behavior is an awesome experience all on its own.
There is the gun itself. I like taking things apart only to try and put them back together again. There is an excitement in seeing exactly how something works or at least admiring what makes it tick. Firearms are complex in their simplicity. The springs and mechanisms that operate their actions are fascinating in their detail. The purity of their tolerances set to thousandths of millimeters make even the act of disassembling them, cleaning, oiling, and reassembling them feel like an act of meditation.
The real therapy comes from shooting. Loading a clean, tight chamber with a perfectly shaped round. Closing the action around it and trapping it inside. Potential energy bottled up with nowhere to go, but out. It's not unlike the frustration that wells itself inside my stomach on days when annoyances run high. As I assess the target, I clear every thought until all that remains is the perfect view of the cross hairs hovering over it. My focus shifts to maintaining a steady and rhythmic breathing pattern. When the time is finally right, I slowly squeeze the trigger igniting the explosive and fire-y release of an incredibly powerful bullet. A bullet that carries my worries and anxieties hundreds of feet away from me in split second. For a moment, I am in complete control and the stress disappears with the smoke from the barrel.