Exercising With Thom

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By Tank Hoover

While writing to his 15-year old nephew, Peter Carr, in 1785, regarding what he considered the best form of exercise, Thomas Jefferson wrote “… I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.”

I knew there was a reason I liked Thomas Jefferson. I agree with his canny course of calisthenics for the cranial inhabitant. Nothing is more exhilarating than a good day on the range! The well-placed shot is an exercise of mental haiku, consisting of a complex orchestration of concentration, sight, blending both fine and gross motor skills.

Nothing is more exhilarating than placing your bullet for whence you aim. To do so is evidence of a successful sequence where mind and body mesh as one to accomplish the complex task, which appears simple and mundane to the mere bystander, until they try the elaborate exercise for themselves. The feeling of elation followed after one relaxes from the ardent application of both physical and mental prowess provides proof of skilled proficiency when the bull’s mark is punched.

Tank telling Thom there are all kinds of gun grabbing politicians out there! Everywhere!

Mental Skill

Today we would call this a form of meditation. For shooting is the highest form of mental exercise combining physical skill for its intended purpose. When one is shooting, the outside world ceases to exist from the time the arm is picked up from the rack until it is returned there. Nothing else is present to distract us. It’s during this mind-cleansing endeavor of focusing on nothing but bullet placement that reinvigorates and replenishes us to start with a clean slate.

The boldness Jefferson mentions comes about from the confidence instilled when one knowingly feels they can place their ball with deadly accuracy if need be, for both food, or defense. A bold feeling indeed that needs not to be brazenly displayed, but is one obvious by the confidence one exhibits in daily quests.

Physical Skill

Gross motor skills are challenged with proper erect posture, and holding your rifle or pistol rock-steady. Your body is your foundation for stability. A firm grip locks your gun to the foundation of your body. Fine motor skills are used during the cocking of the hammer and most importantly, the squeezing of the trigger to time ignition with the wobble of wavering sights onto the intended target. A complex and convoluted task indeed, becoming automatic and secondary in nature with repeated practice.


Lastly, extreme concentration ties all these skills together to function as a whole unit capable of placing your ball for whence you aim. So Ol’ Thom is dead-on in describing “the gun” as the ultimate form of exercise. What other activity makes use of so many different complex skill sets mentally and physically? And yet can keep one alive by providing the basics of food, shelter, protection and lifting our spirits, making us feel alive? I cannot think of one better. Who am I to question such a great man and former president?

Two Types

There are two ways to exercise. The first is the ways mentioned above, to increase skill, by practicing those skills with an activity reinforcing and strengthening your current skill level. The second way is the actual exercising, or making use of your Constitutional Rights. Both are important and vital ways to enable you the ability to keep your gun and use it proficiently. This last quote is too good not to share from our first President of these United States and shows how important he thought it was for free men to bear arms.

“Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty-teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

George Washington
First President of the United States

God love these founding Fathers for their courage, wisdom and leadership so that we may continue the fight to be free men!

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