Shooting a firearm can raise a lot of emotions, especially for people who have never fired a gun before. A few may experience anxiety, fear, even burst into tears. Anticipation, and maybe some healthy wariness, are more typical reactions.
Most don’t have problems; wanting to learn usually makes it exciting. What follows is usually a healthy rush of adrenaline and a good day. After you flip the safety on and pack up, a sense of relaxation usually follows on the drive home. Why does all this happen?
First, your heart rate and blood pressure rise. Your breathing speeds up. Shooting can be extremely intense the first few times. A lot of energy comes out of a gun and your first time might be one of the most powerful experiences you’ve ever had. Even seasoned owners still experience these effects but rather than fear, they feel positive anticipation and exhilaration. Such impact typically evolves as people become more accustomed to shooting, especially if they live in an area with strong 2nd Amendment support.
Now your brain is alive with a rush of endorphins. These endorphins trigger a primal reaction. Your adrenal system is active and is helping increase your mental focus. You’re able to take in a large stream of information which can make time feel like it’s moving slower.
As the mental high of shooting starts winding down your body is releasing multiple chemicals to bring you back to normal. This is where a sense of calm begins to envelop you. Your heart rate drops, blood pressure starts to return to normal, and a feeling of relaxation hits. After all, it’s basically just putting a dot on a target, squeezing a trigger, and making a loud noise.
Of course, with avid shooters and professionals, range day after range day may dull these feelings or erase them completely. That’s not to say it’s no longer enjoyable, they just don’t get a big hit of adrenaline or shaky hands afterward.
Shooting firearms can become just another fun activity or sport which offers its own suite of psychological benefits. Range day can be a social event for many that includes benefits like quality time with friends and family and improving your mood. It still provides benefits like mental engagement when focusing on a target or polishing technique and relaxation after the fact.
Members of the firearms community have been called “gun nuts”, but shooting is really like any other hobby or sport. People want to have a good time and get better at it. The psychological effects are of similar to other high adrenaline activities like racing, bungee jumping, or skydiving—but shooting is safer and can be done by anyone regardless of physical capacity.
Try it, you’ll like it!
—Richard Douglas founded Scopes Field, reviewing different scopes and guns on the market. He’s a strong 2nd Amendment advocate and believes in science-backed gun solutions to our nation’s biggest problems.