One of the the things I resolved to do with my Liberation from Labor time was to delve into interests and hobbies that I've either fallen away from or never quite found the time to pursue.
There's a very long list of these that includes such things as:
- Knitting; - Welding; - Construction/handyman skills; - Sailing; - Drawing and other visual arts; - Writing (fiction or journalism, not just this self-published bloggy crap); - Reading (if you are going to write, you need to well-read after all); - Sewing; - Long distance cycling; - Cycle touring (potentially); - Gardening/horticulture (perennials and roses, mostly); - Improved/expert bicycle repair/sales/shop experience; - Yoga; - Meditation; - Weight lifting (not power lifting, more for improved balance and strength); - Cooking; - Music (I used to be pretty good at guitar but I also hack away on mandolin, electric bass, electric guitar and flute); - Great Lakes regional history, and; - Many other things I am forgetting at the moment.
That's a pretty diverse list and one that will keep me occupied for the short term, at least.
One activity that is not on the list is shooting (target shooting, specifically). It's not on the to-do list because I am already doing it. I enjoyed target shooting as a kid, but fell away from it later in my teens.
This summer I joined a range, and although it's a little far from my haunts in So. MPLS, it's friendly and the facilities are good, and I feel welcome there.
I was at the range today, sighting in a newly-mounted scope on my little .22 rifle. I find that I am drawn to the challenge of small calibers at long distances. There is something about the precision, concentration and focus that is required to place 10 shots in a 3-inch circle at 50 yards that attracts me. You can't bluff that, and you can't fudge the results, either.
The photo with this post is today's finished product after I got the scope to (finally) behave. The pattern leads me to believe that the scope is about spot-on or perhaps a hair low, and the variability is due to me, not the rifle or the scope. The outlier shot in the 9 ring doesn't bother me because the mosquitoes were ferocious today, so that's probably a flinch.
Once I tighten up my 50-yard patterns, I'll move to the 100 yard range. That will be a real challenge (more than twice as difficult). But there is something almost meditative about long distance shooting that makes this appealing; it shuts out the mindnoise, and that vacuum rewires or re-boots the brain a bit, much like drawing or music does.
Surprising, but true - I suspect most people who don't shoot expect that this is some kind of Rambo thing, but target shooting is a lot more like Zen than "First Blood".
Once I up my proficiency, I'll likely venture into league competition. After finishing with the .22 scope, I went over to the 25- yard range for some pistol practice and out-shot most of the other people there. One of the old salts at the 25-yard range suggested I join the Pistol League ASAP based on my target, but for now I intend to just work on my form and concentration.
It's possible that I'll sign up for winter pistol league. Until then, I'll just take some small satisfaction in being able to hit a small target at great distance.