If you have to go out into the desert and shoot shotguns for four or five days, do so. It will cleanse the soul and align the eye with the heart for the time when killing is at hand.
But I would not recommend going on the day of your wedding anniversary.
I have recently returned from just such a trip. Men in desert tan and O.D. green and digicam and black with their various shotgun set ups standing on line and letting loose double ought buck and one ounce slugs and Federal Tactical Flight Control and Winchester Super X.
Select slug drills from the 35 and the 50 yard line.
Close contact drills from the 3 yard line.
Head shots on hostage-taker targets in 1.5 seconds from the 7 yard line.
Malfunction clearance drills.
Shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting. Faster and faster and more accurate and more accurate still.
A measure of contentment.
I derive a certain satisfaction from knowing that I am a lethal being. There are more lethal beings on this planet (my little brother being a case in point), but I can hold my own against a hefty portion of them. It is in the hands and the eye and the back and legs, but it is also and more importantly in the dark heart.
It takes a killing heart to get done what needs doing in this world.
What I also love is moving from the world of skill at arms to the world of art.
What is one without the other?
Where is the glory of god to be found?
In the act of creation and the act of destruction.
Because you will be destroyed, you can destroy.
Because you have been created, you may create.
What I know is that my wife is the dead center of my world. Yes I am a man and what comes with that. Yes I am a cop and what comes with that. Yes I am a son-of-a-bitch and what comes with that.
But I know what matters in this life.
And above all it is her.
It is her.
My little brother says to me on the last day of the desert shotgun class:
“My goddamn hands feel like I’ve been crushing gravel with them.”
When I got home, I had to spend an hour cleaning all of the blood off my gun. From my own little bitch fingers.
There is a lot of sharp edges on these guns.
I shoot the Benelli M1 Super 90. It is a semi-auto 12 gauge shotgun. I have put eight rounds of 00 buck downrange in less than four seconds. It is like having a portable shitstorm in your hands.
Seriously, you don’t stand a chance.
I shot a “Distinguished Graduate” on this course. Two of the guys I was with shot the whole thing “clean”. Perfect. Not a round dropped. Not a flaw.
I missed that by one round.
There are some serious operators out there.
I know that I buy into a certain kind of bullshit about what it means to be a man. What it means to hold your mud and to carry your weight and to do what needs doing.
I know that.