Shooting sport

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A shooting sport is a competitive sport involving tests of proficiency (accuracy and speed) using various types of guns such as firearms and airguns (see archery & kyudo for shooting sports that make use of bows and arrows). The shooting sports are categorized by the type of firearm or target used.

The Buddha was a member of the warrior caste in the Sakyan tribe. As such, he certainly would have been taught the skills of archery, which is a shooting sport (arrows being shot). It is reported that the Buddha-to-be (prior to the going forth and enlightenment) was actually very good at archery and won contests. Thus, the two sports or exercises that the Buddha participated in were shooting (archery) and later as a teacher; walking and stairclimbing (he regularly climbed Vulture Peak to meditate and teach). But it is only archery (that we know of) that he participated at a competitive level and was successful.

Some Buddhists might find it odd that shooting sport would be even considered as an activity or sport for a Buddhist, but this article is referring to sport shooting at targets, not hunting or using weapons for killing humans or animals. And the Buddha most certainly participated in the shooting of arrows with archery.

Although shooting with guns is certainly different from archery, it involves the same basic skills of concentrating, aiming and hitting the target. The Buddha did not participate in shooting with guns because they were not invented yet, but if they had been invented at that time, he most certainly would have been proficient in their use, as a member of the warrior caste (born into that caste).

The Zen of shooting sport

There are numerous books in the market with titles such as Zen in the Art of Archery, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Zen of Painting, The Zen of Success, Zen in the Martial Arts, etc., etc. All of these books show or attempt to show how these activities can be absorbed into an all-inclusive facet of life where your whole mind and body and spirit is put into the activity – in a successful way. For the purposes of this article, 'Zen' here refers to this use of this activity of shooting targets for sport and fitness in a Buddhist way with the whole mind, body, and spirit and not necessarily just to the 'school' of Zen Buddhism.

There are many sports that require intense concentration, including golf, archery, chess and many others. But in all of these other sports, there is also a major factor of skill. However, in shooting sport, the concentration required may be the highest of any other sport. The mind and body must be completely still and relaxed to hold the gun still and hit the center of the small target. The best performers are those that have the highest concentration, the most calm breathing, and very low resting heart rates. Other sports and meditation can be used to help train the body so that it is more calm and relaxed and so that the breathing and heart rate will not be rough.

The skill needed in obtaining goods scores at shooting sport is very minimal, such as holding the gun correctly and knowing how to maintain "line of sight." The primary way of scoring well is by having the hand and entire body very still with virtually no movement and proper, slow breathing with a relaxed body and mind and low heart rate.