Before we look at what we can do to relieve stress, let’s look at what exactly stress is. If we look it up in Webster’s dictionary it says that stress is “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.”
If we look at it from a more scientific approach we realize that as living beings we are constantly fighting to maintain homeostasis, or equilibrium, in our lives. It is impossible to always be in a state of equilibrium, there are always things that take us away from our equilibrium and those things are often called stress. We must find a way to deal with this stress in order to return to equilibrium
Some of us experience much more stress than others, but we all experience it to some degree. For something that is such a common problem we seem to have surprisingly few solutions. So how can we find a solution that works for us? We can start by looking at what ancient oriental people did to relieve stress -meditation. Meditation is the attempt to think about nothing, keeping you mind clear of all thoughts. This seems to have worked for ancient peoples. In fact, it seems like it continues to work for those who still practice this ancient tradition. The problem is that many of you are probably thinking, like I do myself, that you do not have the patience to meditate. This is a major roadblock that for most of us will likely never be overcome. The more I have tried to meditate, the more I have realized that true meditation is a skill, and that not everyone is capable of doing it.
So what else can we do? Let’s look at a more modern method that, odds are, you’ve already tried before-aggression. Stress is often caused by a build-up of anger, and one of the most common ways we try to rid ourselves of these angry feelings is through acts of aggression, such as punching something soft like a pillow, or even harder things like a two-by-four board. One of the problems with this method is that by being so actively aggressive we start to get our adrenaline pumping and it can become even harder to calm down. Another problem is that if we end up punching something hard, purposely or accidentally, the pain will further infuriate us.
So if those to methods don’t work what else can we do? It just so happens that there is a modern way of combining these two methods into an altogether much more effective method –target shooting. Whether at a shooting range or in the great outdoors firing a weapon can be a great way to blow off some steam. As I said earlier, shooting is a way of combining the previous two methods. While it is fairly easy to see how shooting can be an act of aggression, you are probably thinking, how is shooting anything like meditation? They are alike in that in both shooting and meditation you must focus intently, draw slow measured breaths, concentrate heavily on small muscles, and repeat a series of physical actions.
The wonderful thing about shooting is that it is easier than meditation, it doesn’t get your blood pumping nearly as hard as physical aggression does, it’s easy to find a shooting range near you, and, with firing ranges only costing between $10 and $20 an hour, it is fairly inexpensive, making it is the perfect combination of both meditation and aggression.
If you’re still skeptical or just don’t want to pay the $200+ to buy a handgun, go to a shooting range and try it out. Most shooting ranges rent guns for an additional 10-20$ and hour, far cheaper than buying a gun just to check it out. Have fun, but don’t forget gun safety!