The more I interact with guns, the more apparent I find the correlation between music and firearms – they both have the power to produce instant memories. They force us to think, learn, feel and ask questions, and, much like music, guns provoke within their operators a variety of emotions (be that nervous anticipation, passion, fear, joy, sadness, traumatic recollections or fond memories).
Growing up in my family, we were all raised with deeply convicted instruction from our parents regarding the proper interfacing with weapons – whether that instruction was geared toward how to properly handle and use guns or why to avoid them with all the religious dedication of a monk. This coaching shaped our early childhood attitudes towards and experiences with guns. However, upon entering our teenage years we began to explore the world of firearms more independently, developing our own paradigm that determined the role of music, I mean guns, in our lives.
Though I didn’t grow up around a variety of firearms, I did grow up around a few very specific guns. My dad was not a collector or enthusiast in any way, but owned the same guns for as long as I can remember. Because there weren’t many, I was able to interact with each and have very particular memories of each specific weapon.
One of my favorite guns was his .30-06!
Growing up, I was a pretty scrawny kid, but what I lacked in size, I made up in determination. That gun was just about as tall as me the first time I shot it. I remember pushing my chest forward against the wooden gun bench as hard as I could and digging my feet into the dirt under me, thinking that would somehow help stabilize me. My shot placement could not have been great as my shoulders were tense, my breathing was shallow and I was anticipating the shot with all the excitement of Christmas morning. The firing pin dropped and the butt kicked back into me. It was as if that trigger was connected to a rubber stamp that smashed a memory onto my brain.
Yesterday afternoon, as if hearing a favorite song from high school for the first time in decades, I was driven down memory lane with all the force of a Barnes VOR-TX 150 grain bullet traveling 3000 feet per second. The memory of my first shot through my dad’s Remington 700 .30-06 was instantly vivid with the first shot from my own Remington 700 .30-06 rifle!
The time spent yesterday with my new gun at the range was not experienced simply as the minutes within that event. My time yesterday was magnified by the experiences I had throughout the years with the granddaddy of my gun. Those experiences that hold an incredible amount of emotion.
You can read about a gun. You can look at, hold and handle a gun. But unless you turn it on, feel it and listen to it, that gun will be forgotten. Once you send that bullet, the kick stamps a memory into your brain you never forget!
That’s the power of musical triggers.