There has been a lot of talk about male loneliness as of late. As men become more atomized, it becomes an interesting subject of discussion. Men are less likely to have a group of friends to rely on, are more likely to work longer hours, and generally have less success in their love lives than ever before. One in five men admits to having no close friends, and this conversation society is having culminated with an article from the New York Times called, “Is the Cure to Male Loneliness Out On the Pickleball Court?” Maybe its shooting competitively.
Alongside the awkward title was a hilarious illustration of a man crying while watching another group of men play pickleball. It’s launched a sea of memes, with my favorite being “Is the Cure to Male Loneliness Hunting Cryptids with the Boys?” You might be wondering why a gun website is talking about male loneliness, but if you read the title, my premise is pretty obvious.
Is the Cure to Male Loneliness Shooting Competitively?
Shooting sports is a fantastic way to get out there, make new friends, and have fun. The shooting community as a whole is very accepting of new shooters, and it’s an open community in most cases. It’s easy to come in as a complete newb and find people willing to teach you how things are done.
It might seem odd to suggest shooting sports as a way to combat male loneliness. Isn’t it loud and difficult to make friends? Not really. Most people use a set of electric ear protection, and when you aren’t shooting, you are typically a little ways off the line. There is plenty of time to chat and ask questions and generally get to know the squad you’re assigned to.
While physical fitness is an important aspect of anything, it’s not necessarily required for shooting sports. You’ll shoot better with a lower resting heart rate, but you can compete in most shooting sports as an out-of-shape slob. Getting involved in bush league sports can be difficult for someone out of shape. It’s certainly tough to feel adequate and to have fun if you are dragging your team down.
With shooting sports, that’s not really a problem. Sure, some are team-based, but those are fairly uncommon. You’ll be working for yourself, and you can’t drag a team down.
Addressing the Core Causes Of Male Loneliness
Men aren’t making friends, and the cure isn’t just to make more friends. We have to address the root cause of male loneliness and why they aren’t making friends. While competitive shooting sports can’t address every aspect of why men can’t make friends, they can address some.
When people smarter than I dug into why men feel lonely and why they can’t make friends easily, there were a few common causes. One was feelings of inferiority. Not being good at something and getting better at that thing is a great way to build confidence. You might suck at first when shooting competitively, but you’ll now know what you need to practice, and you’ll see your skills improve.
Another big factor is a feeling of inadequate masculinity. Shooting competitively is not a strict male hobby, although men do outnumber women by a fair bit in the sport. I also don’t want to alienate female competitive shooters of women in the firearm industry by any means. However, shooting sports are often tied to your ability to shoot, which is tied to your ability to protect.
Protecting one’s family is a masculine trait and a man’s ability to protect himself, his loved ones, his community, and beyond. Being good at shooting can certainly help a man feel he is masculine.
To the Range
Shooting competitively will make you want to shoot more, train more, and spend time outdoors and with people. It’s fun, engaging, and provides a thrill we don’t get when we are connected to a screen. While shooting competitively can help aid in relieving male loneliness, it’s not the only thing to consider. You might need therapy or, a support group, and other forms of help. Boys, don’t be afraid to open up. Also, hydrate and moisturize!