The Church of Powder and Shot


As Aki and I hurry past the gun range to where the Montana Creek ski trail starts, I wonder at these people who chose to spend Sunday morning discharging high power rifles. Perhaps their Sabbath falls on a different day of the week. It’s still early so maybe they are centering themselves for the mid-morning Palm Sunday service by releasing violence against a paper target. For others, this may be their church: their way to celebrate creation and life. Instead of following along in hymnals, they use the Remington 270 or a standard thirty-ought-six to sing divine praise. Members of this church of powder and shot must prefer the bark of a Winchester 30-30 carbine to a homily.


When the rifle range noise becomes hidden by the sound of Montana Creek, I ease into skiing. Aki releases her tail from between her hind legs and trots along, stopping to sniff and pee like she does when relaxed. But at the turnaround spot, where there is only a tributary of the creek to break the silence, we hear three loud bangs. Down goes the tail until it is curled between Aki’s legs. Even though we are soon back to where the creek noise blocks out violence sounds, the little dog doesn’t relax.


After we run out of skiable snow, we walk. Yesterday, on this patch of ice and pavement, I felt like a WWI recruit approaching the trenches for the first time, trying not to duck for cover. But today, we don’t hear any shots during the 500-meter walk to the car. The gun range is practically empty. We spot only two men and them conversing quietly next to their pickup truck. Church must be out.



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