Recoil Therapy: the Art of Relaxing at the Range

Whatsamatter, buddy? Winter blahs got you down? Having a hard time focusing on work? Can’t quite clear your head after those interminable PowerPoint presentations? Sick & tired of being sick & tired?  What you need, my friend, is a little Recoil Therapy because nothing chases away the blues like a .44 magnum.

Wouldn’t You Like to Get Away?

When I was a full-time care provider for a family member with Alzheimer’s, it used to surprise people when I would make use of my relatively rare respite care breaks (when someone else would come care of my charge) to go out to the range to do some shooting. “Why?” they would ask, and I would tell them because, particularly after a couple of years in as a care-giver, I was usually exhausted from lack of sleep and the other demands that come along with looking after somebody all the time.  Usually they would then ask why I just didn’t take a nap.

I did take naps sometimes, of course. Other times I would run necessary errands, or do similar things to get out of the house and clear my head. But every couple of weeks or so, I my fingers would start twitching and I new I really needed to just go out to the range and do some shooting.  Fact is I found that that shooting a gun was more relaxing and did a better job of shedding my worries, than anything else could.

Relaxation with a Bang?

This may seem like therapist fodder to some but I know I’m hardly alone here in finding the range to be more effective than the spa.  Indeed, I have heard many, many shooters attest to healing powers of shooting over the years and though the basis for this phenomenon is a matter of speculation, I believe the reason why shooting does such a good job of hitting the reset button on your head and heart is pretty simple: if you’re going to be safe on the range, you need to forget all your other troubles and pay attention to what the hell you’re doing. You have to put aside the other worries of life, whatever they are, while you have a gun in your hand. You can’t be thinking of sales figures for the next quarter or whether that funny sound means you’ll have to replace the refrigerator. When you pick up a firearm, you have to “be in the moment.” Completely. Totally. Honestly.

I came to calling these trips out to the range as my “Recoil Therapy.” For a couple of precious hours, I had to forget everything else and concentrate on exactly what I was doing there on the range. It was wonderfully relaxing in a way that nothing else is.

And the habit stuck with me, even after my time as a care-provider was over. I no longer have the kinds of stresses I had then, though of course all of us get preoccupied with the usual minor annoyances and hassles of life (and I have my share of that). When I feel my stress level start to max out, I’ll check the calendar to see how long it’s been since I had a chance to get out shooting and if it’s been more than a couple of weeks, I’ll clear some time in my normally busy schedule to get out to the range.

Caliber Remedies

The more faithfully you make your recoil therapy appointments, the sooner you’ll start to realize what guns and calibers do what for you.  For example, when I have a cloud hanging over my head, a big whopping .44 Magnum can part the skies and let the sunshine through.  I shoot handguns mostly, so that’s usually what I turn to when the world overwhelms me—you’re Recoil Therapy may be best managed in the hands of a shotgun or a good old deer rifle in a major caliber. When you touch off that first powerful round, and feel the THUMP! in your chest, it’s like all the junk you’ve been worrying about is just blown-away with the blast.  Here are three of my favorite range medications.  Take as prescribed:

.22 LR

The beauty of .22 is that you can really make a day of your Recoil Therapy with this economical round.  Though it doesn’t offer much in the way of a jolt to the system, the shooting still serves my purposes: to ignore everything else for a while. Even if you’re just planning on doing a little plinking or target practice, you’ll start to feel better just knowing that some range time is coming up.  Prescribed for mild to moderate depression and anxiety.  Take at least once a month.

.357 Magnum

When the .22s aren’t getting rid of the worry sweats anymore, I usually dose up to a nice .357 Magnum.  What I like about a .357 is that you can get the whallop to the system you’re looking for with the magnum loads, but when your hands start to give out from the recoil, you can switch to a lighter, cheaper .38 Special and extend your therapy session a couple more minutes or hours (and you just try to find a therapist out that would allow you to do this without an outrageous bill).  Prescribed for moderate to severe depression and anxiety.  Take as needed.

.44 Magnum

To really dump the stress, there’s nothing like shooting off a gun with significant recoil.  Accept no substitutes and go with a .44 with full-house magnum loads or caliber of similar ballistic performance.  It’s amazing how everything in the world seems manageable when your behind on of these.  Prescribed for severe depression and anxiety.  Take as needed.

It’s easy to get tied up in the routine of life. It’s easy to get sucked in by the demands of your job, your family. You gotta pay attention to that stuff day in and day out. We all do. And the routine becomes a rut. Before you know it, weeks or even months will pass since the last time you got out to do a bit of shooting.  So, if it’s been a while, if your stress level has filled up every nook and cranny of your awareness, maybe it’s time to schedule a little recoil therapy (doctors orders).

A little range time is good for the heart, body and mind.  What’s your favorite form of Recoil Therapy?