by Josie Siler @josie_siler
One of my happy places is way out in the country. It’s located down a back road and you need to go through a gate to get in. Once you’re in you’ll park in a small lot next to everything from motorcycles and jacked-up Jeeps to trucks and nondescript cars.
In this happy place I meet with family, friends, and strangers whose lives are as diverse as their vehicles. We swap magazines, actively engage our surroundings, and learn from the best.
What is this magical place? A gym? A school? Perhaps a gated community? In a sense, all of those answers are correct.
It’s a shooting range!
I know this might sound terrifying to some of you, but I’m a Wisconsin girl and shooting is in my blood. It’s part of the culture here and an absolutely normal part of life. I’ve been shooting my entire life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really got into training.
My family met Dirk and Jo of Jasco Defense Strategies at a gun show held at our church. Yes, I said church; it really is part of our culture here! Dirk is a firearms instructor and a dang good one. My entire family took his concealed carry class and we were hooked.
Last summer I took Defensive Handgun 1. This class teaches you how to shoot from various positions including on your knees, leaning back on an elbow, or even flat on your back shooting between your feet. The whole time I was reciting in my head, “Don’t shoot your toe off, don’t shoot you toe off, don’t shoot your toe off . . .”
We learned how to shoot from behind and around shelter, what targets to engage first, how to assess the risk, and how not to get in trouble in the first place. You guys (that’s like “y’all” for us northerners), it was So Much Fun!
Living with chronic illness, shooting can be a challenge. Often it will take me days to recover from a night at the range and sometimes a week or more to recover from a class.
But sometimes in life you have to make the choice to have fun anyway because the joy you get from doing something is worth the pain.
There have been a lot of classes and range nights that I’ve had to miss, but I do everything I can to help my body be ready for fun. I schedule things so I can have energy before and time to rest after because I like it so much. There are a lot of reasons why:
One: It’s a stress reliever. If life is stressing you out, an hour or two at the shooting range is good medicine. I mean, you literally get to shoot your worries away – how awesome is that?!
Two: It’s family bonding at its finest. My entire family likes to shoot so when we all go to the range or take a class together it’s a blast. (Ha, blast!) We get to watch each other improve and celebrate victories together.
Three: It’s a confidence builder. I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything that has built my confidence as much. When you can load and rack your handgun, understand the situation before you, and run a course, hitting every target and swapping mags on the fly, you feel like a million bucks. You can face any problems head on because you just rocked that course and if you can do that you can do anything.
Four: I’m better prepared to live life safely. Let’s face it, today’s world is dangerous. Through shooting classes I’ve learned situational awareness. I don’t walk to the car while playing on my cellphone, I keep my head up and eyes open. I don’t just check my six out on the range; I check my six at the grocery store and in the parking lot. I walk with confidence and my body language shows that I’m not an easy target, even if I am small female. I’m a person who will fight back if necessary.
Five: It deepens my faith in God. I can see you scratching your head, but hear me out on this one. First of all, anything I do in nature deepens my faith in God. I love being in His creation. But beyond that, I’m learning how to be confident in the person God made me to be and learning lessons that can be applied to life and faith. For example, when my instructor gives me a command, I don’t always understand why he wants me to that, but I know that if I don’t obey I could be injured or someone else could be injured. Eventually I understand the “why” but by golly I better obey or I could be in trouble. It’s the same way with the commands God gives us in Scripture. I may not always understand the “why” right away, but I know that God is good and that His commands are for my benefit and safety. If I don’t obey God I’m going to find myself in trouble.
This Saturday I will be taking the Defensive Handgun 2 class and it’s going to be awesome! Do I have any shooting buddies out there? I’d love to meet you in the comments! Let me know what you like to shoot and what God has taught you through shooting.
Not a shooter? That’s okay! I think that any hobby we have or activity we enjoy can teach us something about God. Fun and faith are not mutually exclusive! I’d love to hear about something you love to do and what God has taught through it.
 A magazine is what holds the rounds in a handgun. Rounds are what most people call bullets, but a bullet is only part of the round. The round is made up of the bullet, the gun powder, the primer, and the casing which holds it all together – see you learn things when you take classes!
 Situational awareness is knowing what’s going on around you. Be aware of your surroundings and have plans in place for those “what if” scenarios.
 Checking your six is looking behind you. Picture a clock: 12:00 is what’s in front of you; 6:00 is what’s behind you. Checking your six is being aware of what happening all around you.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!
Josie Siler loves sharing God’s gifts of beauty, hope, and adventure. She’s an award-winning writer, a published author, and an award-winning photographer. She can’t seem to separate her two loves so she brings them together each week in a #BehindThePhotoFriday story. Josie is also the Vice President of Broken but Priceless Ministries and the Editorial Assistant for “Broken but Priceless: The Magazine.” When she’s not writing or taking pictures, you’ll find this biker chick riding her motorcycle, reading a good book, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or shooting something at the range. Learn more about Josie at josiesiler.com.