18. Fire a Hunting Rifle?

You know how it goes when your eyes are bigger than your stomach? When you're at a buffet and suddenly you think, "yeah, I'd like to try that caviar," only you've never tried caviar, and generally you don't like anything fish related. Even so, you dump the biggest scoop of caviar on your plate, and then you bring it back to the table, where you realize that you have no intention of putting it anywhere near your mouth. Not ever. Not even once just to try it and see if it was good.

That's what happened this week. Months ago, I put this on my list. I have a friend who has some land up in Northern Minnesota. They do a lot of hunting on the land, and he offered me the opportunity to shoot his gun. I didn't like the way it made me feel, so I said yes. I have now realized that there is a difference between feeling nervous about something, but still being excited to do it, and feeling nervous about something, and really having no attraction to the activity at all.

First of all, let me tell you, I am an enthusiastic carnivore. I love meat. A lot. I greatly respect vegetarians for their beliefs and their choices, however, I have different beliefs and make different choices. I love meat. I have often been the lucky recipient of the fruits of my friend's hunting labor, and have happily consumed every last morsel. I recognize that in order for me to reap the benefits of said game, it has to have been killed at my friend's hand. Specifically using his hunting rifle. I have no objection to that. However, when I envisioned myself holding that rifle and pulling the trigger, I got an unmistakable pit in my stomach. What I had ignored at first mention really began to nag at me.

My grandfather (affectionately named "Boppa") fought in World War II. I don't know much about his experience, we simply don't talk about it much. I am certain that the memories are so painful and beyond my comprehension. I know that he was in the platoon that liberated Dachau (the first concentration camp to be liberated in Nazi Germany). All I've ever heard him say about the experience is that he couldn't believe that people could be so cruel to one another. I revere my Boppa. He is easily the most fun loving man, with the biggest heart, and he has a knack for always seeing the good in people. I always said that if I ever met a man like my Boppa, I would marry him on the spot. Although I believe they broke the mold with my Boppa, my husband is about as close as you can get. I feel very lucky to have such wonderful men in my life. You are probably wondering why I'm telling you all of this. It has everything to do with the reason I couldn't go through with this task.

I remember the first time I realized that my Boppa had held a gun. It was in junior high school when we were studying World War II and I saw a picture of a soldier holding his rifle. I had seen pictures like this before, but this time, I imagined that the young man in that picture was my Boppa. Young, innocent, in love with a woman whom he had left behind to face who knows what, and armed. It struck me. The image of a young man carrying a rifle denotes violence. My Boppa is the polar opposite of violent. Reconciling this new revelation was nothing short of impossible - and it still is. I have the deepest and most abiding respect for what my Boppa did for our country, what all soldiers who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom have done for our country. However, that honor, juxtaposed with the violence that is involved is a lot for the human heart to make sense of.

This may seem like quite a leap to you. I was going to shoot a hunting rifle, I wasn't going to war. I wasn't even going to point the rifle at living beings. I was going to shoot cans. It is that image of the young man with the rifle that gives me that pit in my stomach. That pit that I wish I hadn't ignored. However, that is what I learned from this week's challenge; the gut doesn't lie. Your intuition is there for a reason. In the end, I did trust it. While this would have been a challenge to be sure, it is not one I would have been so proud of in the end. Having not done it, I am proud. I am proud of my friend who shoots five-point bucks that I get to devour in community with great friends, I am proud of my Boppa - a hero, whose contributions in the Service were so important to so many people and shaped the way we live today, and I'm proud of myself for following my instinct, and deciding that shooting a hunting rifle was not something I needed to do in order to feel accomplished or complete.

My husband is ever so excited for me to deliver the news that my challenge for next week is to mow the lawn (yes, I'm just shy of 32 years-old, and I've never mowed a lawn, you won't want to miss this blog).


  1. Perhaps it was the type of rifle you were going to shoot? I don't know if you might ever think of trying for this challenge again but if you do I can offer you a slight difference on it. I can hook you up with some replica black powder rifles, those used in the pre revolitionary war, more along the lines for very survival in the late 1700s, though I do realize rifles were used in the American Revolution, I don't know, just an idea.

    I've shot a variety of firearms through my various friends and I've had a lot of fun. In an odd way it reminds me of Golf.

    And don't worry, I mowed a lawn for the first time in my life when I was 30.

  2. Why we are really alike! I realize it after reading this post. I too have never fired a rifle and think about it sometimes as my husband thinks I should be more "comfortable" around guns but it is really something I don't think I ever want to do. And then I got to the end of your post and laughed out load. I too have never mowed the lawn at the age of, well I just turned 33. Looking forward to your next post.


Comments are cool, being mean is not, so please... just don't do it. Hey, thanks!

Have Keeping Her Cool Emailed to you!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Popular Posts