According to a 2020 Gallup survey, 44% of U.S. adults reported that they lived in a household with a gun, while 32% said that they owned a gun. While the majority of gun owners cite personal protection as their primary reason for gun ownership, there are also potential physical and mental benefits related to shooting guns recreationally. As such, if guns are handled safely and responsibly, recreational shooting can absolutely offer positive outcomes.
Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress because it prompts your brain to produce endorphins. Recreational shooting offers physical exercise in various ways depending on the specific activity. Virtually any type of shooting requires the use of upper body strength, while obstacle courses and similar activities can also present opportunities for cardiovascular exercise. However, it is important to also keep in mind that shooting can also cause increased production of adrenaline, which is a stress hormone. As such, it is important to weigh these pros and cons against your unique circumstances and interests.
In addition to cardiovascular wellness and upper body strength, shooting can also improve your core strength. This is achieved due to the need to hold a firm stance while absorbing recoil, as your abdominal muscles contribute significantly to stability. This development of your stabilizing muscles, as well as the focus on proper stance while shooting, can also improve your balance and posture.
Hand-eye coordination is the process by which your eyes direct your motor functions. This is a key component of shooting a gun because you have to coordinate the position of your body (particularly your hands) with a target that is being processed visually. As such, shooting may help you develop your hand-eye coordination, especially if you engage in shooting activities that require faster reflexes, such as clay shooting.
In the modern-day, many of us spend a lot of time staring at our screens for work, entertainment, and education. This can cause “computer vision syndrome,” which can result in issues such as dry eye and eye strain. Therefore, getting out and engaging in an activity that does not involve a screen can help reduce these issues.
Because you have to hold a gun up for an extended period while shooting, the activity can build endurance. Additionally, the muscles built during the process can improve your resistance to injury. While any exercise can help build endurance and resilience, shooting guns is a relatively low-impact way to do so (except for the use of firearms with a particularly strong recoil).
For some people, shooting guns can produce anxiety due to the production of adrenaline. However, if you find that you have particular anxiety around guns or loud noises, careful introduction to shooting can slowly ameliorate those fears due to exposure. Furthermore, using a gun can increase your confidence.
Feeling that you lack a purpose or feeling under-stimulated in general can contribute to depression. Recreational shooting is not only a hobby that can fill your time, but also one that requires a lot of discipline and responsibility, which may make it feel more rewarding than other options for recreation. Additionally, it is important for society as a whole that firearms are used responsibly, and therefore you could further seek purpose by educating others on the topic. Education in this area could involve anything from how to store firearms in a house with children to how to appropriately use all components, from primers and brass for reloading to triggers for modding.
When you shoot, you often have to think quickly, especially in exercises that involve quick reactions to unexpected situations, such as obstacle courses. Additionally, an important part of shooting is remaining calm and collected under stress. Therefore, recreational shooting may get you in the habit of thinking fast and improve your mental fortitude.
Again, recreational gun use requires a lot of responsibility and discipline, and therefore it may help you develop strong self-discipline. Additionally, it can offer you an opportunity to interact with others on a routine basis, and social support structures and routines are extremely beneficial for mental health. You can also find routine through regular maintenance and upkeep of your firearm, such as cleaning your gun and replenishing your ammunition-assembly materials regularly.
Overall, gun enthusiasts can build a healthy community to pursue their interests and wellbeing, as well as contribute positively to the larger community through education.