Have you ever thought of incorporating firearms into your physical fitness routine? Believe it or not, the idea is not a new one.
“In 1785 Thomas Jefferson wrote to his fifteen-year-old nephew, Peter Carr, regarding what he considered the best form of exercise: “…I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independance to the mind.” – Text from James A. Bear, “Some Jefferson Ideas on Exercise, Guns and Game,” Monticello Research Report, n.d. (Spelling is original to the text).
Every twelve months we get an opportunity to take a moment, reflect on the year that has passed and plan for how we want to do things differently or better with the year that is just being born. We have all seen the cartoon depiction of Baby New Year, the little diaper-clad toddler that represents the unspoiled opportunity to raise this “baby” right. And with proper care, feeding, and attention to the needs of this infant we have
hope of good and prosperous times ahead. What does that mean for you personally? We all say we will commit to exercising more and getting more physically fit…but, what if you could incorporate firearms into your physical fitness? Now, that would be a fitness routine you will follow through on!
Those who are firearms enthusiasts know the fitness benefits of the shooting sports because they experience them firsthand, even if they aren’t fully aware of why they feel so healthy after an afternoon of shooting. While hunters engage in a very physical activity, hiking and packing in the fresh outdoor air, simply going out for an afternoon of plinking has many healthy aspects as well.
I decided to ask some experts for their thoughts on this topic, and was fortunate to connect with Brian Hill, owner of The Complete Combatant, and also Tamara Brown Templeton, who is a Registered Nurse at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Q: What do you see as fitness advantages to taking firearms training?
A: Brian: I have been a Martial Arts student in the Marietta, Georgia area since I was 14, and an instructor since I was 18. Training & instructing in combative firearm techniques, martial arts, and physical fitness have always been my passion. As far as the Physical benefits of the shooting sports, we have to use several key assets when we shoot. First is the ability to find a stable shooting stance, which requires the body to work synergistically, using balance, coordination, and the core muscles to assist in recoil management and target tracking. Developing a good grip strengthens the hands and forearms. The eyes have change focus from target to front sight thus strengthening the ciliary muscles of the eye, which controls the shape of the lens. As you progress as a shooter you will move from position to position working on your agility and speed.
Q: Fine motor skills must be used for many aspects of loading magazines and incremental adjustments to control aim. These all speak to mental focus and upper body conditioning, how else are physical health and the shooting sports interrelated?
A: Tamara: I’ve been an RN for 13 years, most of which has been at the VA Hospital in Gainesville, FL, and I am also a beginner competitive 3-Gunner. With any firearms training and especially combat or self-defense type training, you are learning a new kind of balance – you are having to not only keep your own body’s balance in check, but also that of the gun, for several reasons. For one, safety on the training range, secondly, acquisition of your threat into your sights while possibly moving, and thirdly, overall control of the situation. This requires another level of core strength and mental awareness. This type of training forces you to sharpen your skills of situational awareness as well. It helps to have a certain level of physical fitness to help in sustaining long periods of holding your gun up if needed, good flexibility for reaching for concealed weapons and accessories as well as the possibility of having to shoot from crouched or awkward positions. Having the ability to bend in any direction safely while maintaining the direction of your weapon is, again, a good combination of core strength, flexibility, and situational awareness.
Q: Are the benefits strictly physical in nature, or are there other positive aspects?
A: Brian: I proudly serve as a Board Member at Racheal’s Rest, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers private counseling and five-day restorative retreat programs designed to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of survivors of sexual abuse or acts of violence to help regain their balance in life. Addressing mental health and the internal mental benefits of the shooting sports is as important as the physical aspects. The mental discipline of shooting will teach you how to focus, and how to quiet the mind so only necessary information is being processed. Having a small explosion of discharging a firearm directly in front of you, while managing your trigger and aligning the front sights is a great way to develop concentration. The act of drawing, aiming and firing in short period of time allows the shooter to deal with stress, and manage many tasks at once…(READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE)
Article originally published on 1.10.17 and has been reposted on Gun Freedom Radio Blog with permission.
To learn more about the author of this article, Cheryl Todd.