How many times can you recall being so busy with work and life that you couldn’t even spare an hour at the range? How many times have you gone an entire hunting season and only saw your stand once or twice? Such are the tolls life takes when we get too busy—the luxuries sacrificed first are paradoxically those that provide the greatest relief from our stressful lives. For nearly three years, I didn’t quite understand this concept because my work was my play; when I wasn’t hunting I was shooting; when I wasn’t shooting I was researching ballistics or other related elements. I think the longest I went without making it to the range, be it archery, rifle, handgun, or trap, was two weeks. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Shooting, traveling, and hunting for a living?


Well, as some of you who follow me may or may not know, I recently traded in my “cushy” lifestyle for that of a poor college kid. My nightly dreams of shooting and tagging a mature Kansas whitetail have subsequently been replaced by nightmares of chemical structures, amino acids, and quantum mechanics. I wish I was kidding, but they literally haunt my subconscious every night. With being enrolled in a master’s program and simultaneously finishing a second bachelor’s degree, the feeling of being too busy to go shoot is now something that I am fully aware of! I used to chastise my dad for going an entire season without hunting, but now I understand. After doing a little unlicensed psychoanalyzing, I realized that he and I both, subconsciously or otherwise, withhold those things that make us most happy until we feel justifiably deserving of them. He will work until his fingers bleed, and only afterward will he take a Saturday afternoon to hunt. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that he and I have it backwards.

Theresa with a target.What I only recognized a few days ago was the cyclic nature of stress and the “too busy” excuse. We tell ourselves that we simply cannot give an hour or two of our time to do the very thing that we love, and in doing so cause more stress to buildup. In reality, if we could designate just a few hours one day a week to go shooting or hunting, our stress levels would fall, and we would have more motivation to carry out those daily life tasks that keep us so busy. The phrase, “tomorrow never comes” seems relevant here; if you tell yourself that you’ll take a break tomorrow, it could be quite some time before you make it out to the woods again. Make time for yourself! We’re going to be busy for the rest of our lives, we might as well incorporate activities that we love.

If  I’m preaching to the choir here, then consider this my own resolution to give myself a break! This summer, myself and a few other women started an informal ladies-only shooting night. Not only did I look forward to this throughout each work week, but the level of satisfaction I always left with after seeing new female shooters was enough to keep me in good spirits for days after. Unfortunately, we have not had a shooting night since school started! It’s time to stop punishing myself—studies can take a seat for two hours a week (until I start failing classes…Oh God please don’t let me fail these classes). I’ll write more about our women’s shooting night in another blog, but for now I just want to give a quick shout-out to the BRO Scout in case any of you ladies are looking into purchasing a new rifle. The Scout is the model I have, and EVERY SINGLE WOMAN who comes to our range night has had a blast when shooting it. They primarily comment on its light weight and the negligible amount of recoil. Something worth looking into!

Moving on, the moral of the story is this; don’t let life and work get in the way of doing what you love. You have one life to live….live it!

– Theresa Vail

Theresa Vail is a member of the Kansas Army National Guard, Miss Kansas 2013, and current Host of NRA All Access.

Theresa’s Facebook,  Instagram, & Twitter




Leave a comment