A bunch of the parishioners and myself went to eat at “The Hub” after Holy Mass. Pictured is the Robin Hood of the parish after the meal. As you can see, he’s pretty good with a long bow. I went over to his cabin today in my continued effort to know where and how my parishioners live in the back sides of the mountains. He lives in the most impossibly remote place on the planet, accessible only by helicopter unless one loves extreme sports. I’m certain that dirt-bike jump competitions got their start on his miles and miles long driveway/logging road whose water diversion gullies can be six feet deep or high depending on where you are (if not very high in the air) with a cliff face on the one side and a ravine on the other. This dirt bike video pretty much captures the ride:
The cabin is a spectacular gem impossibly where it is, much better than the hermitage ever could be. We talked about Pope Francis and interreligious dialogue. He knows his faith very well as does his dear wife. Meanwhile, he introduced me a bit more to the art of shooting guns, showing me some rather interesting items. As you might imagine, he can place a tight pattern with a pistol just 2-3 inches in diameter at +100 yards… (These guns are not for sale…)
And then there is the following AMT, which is no longer manufactured. It’s used for competition. It’s a 45…
This AMT is smoooooooth. I emptied a clip dead bulls eye, one bullet on top of the other, except for one bullet. For that one, I changed targets to a “dot” target patch we had put on another part of the cardboard backdrop, and with the last bullet took out that “dot”, hitting it dead center as well. In my lifetime and only very recently, I’ve emptied out just a small handful of clips from any kind of pistol.
This kind of scares me: way too good way too fast, like I had known this in a different life, not a déjà vu thing, not a reincarnation thing, but rather something like this is who I would have been professionally had I not been a priest. I look back at how our Lord kept me from this. Amazing. When I was a kid, my family was pretty close with the FBI. I’m not interested in how things would have been as I’m so very happy being a priest. It’s just weird, that’s all. At any rate…
After this, we gave up on targets and just shot at the quarter sized “dot” patches that we put up. That was good, until I added a scenario. I said that most terrorist perps these days use body armor, and so I wanted to be good enough to shoot a perp in the head with confidence even if he should have a hostage drawn in right next to him in one hand as a human shield even while he continued shooting at other victims with the other hand.
So, my Robin Hood parishioner put up a target with a six inch circle, saying that that was the head of the hostage, and then he placed a sticky “dot” immediately to the side of the hostages head, calling that dot the head of the perp. O.K. Just to say, such was the pressure NOT to have any bullets fly into the hostage that neither of us strayed a bit from the “dot” perp. The psychological pressure changed our shooting. This was a discovery. For me, it’s all about necessity and confidence. More shooting in a more relaxed manner with more accuracy means more confidence which means being more relaxed with more accuracy… which means learning to be unflappable even in tough uncontrolled circumstances. My Glock 19 9mm is a lot harder to shoot than the AMT 45, that is, unless I just allow myself to let myself go, so to speak, with the Glock, aiming only once and pumping out the bullets quickly, calmly letting gravity do its work. Then I’m just as accurate with the Glock as I am with the AMT 45. Only the Glock, mind you, can be concealed with ease.
I fully realize I’m NOT a good shot in that I was taking my time in circumstances I controlled. Real life scenarios are messy and need different kinds of training. I’ll see if I can’t turn to my CIA/Army friend and my CIA/Air Force friend for some pointers. There are in this area a seemingly endless line up of very helpful individuals with ineffable military / intelligence careers.
I’m sure any gun fanatics reading this post will know what this is…
O.K. I admit it. I’m just having WAY TOO MUCH FUN. Now, here’s the question: Is it bad and evil for a priest to just be having WAY TOO MUCH FUN?
Yesterday, guns were a catalyst for a conversation involving encouragement about interreligious dialogue in the face of airplane statements from Pope Francis. Is that bad and evil?
Today a hospital run of some hundreds of miles was a catalyst for a conversation involving encouragement about all and sundry everything. Is that bad and evil?
People find themselves in different circumstances but always before the living God. I think that priests can be there for them wherever they are at, not only to bring them closer to our Lord (even if they are already much closer than I, which is the case with both of these parishioners in my opinion), but to be brought closer to the Lord myself by them.
Just to say, I am about to read up a bit more on Saint Francis and the conversion of the Muslims with a book I picked up at the most incredible gift shop in the world at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville Alabama. But just remember, Saint Francis had an entire army with him!