What do firearms mean to you?

If someone were to ask you what firearms meant to you, how would you respond?

When I was a teenager into my early 20s, firearms meant hunting season. It meant getting up when it was cold and dark to load the truck with gear, then driving with my father to meet with others in our hunt club. It meant excitement, bonding, maturing, and fellowship.

As I grew into my 20s and college faded behind me, I moved far from my home and hunting grounds and started a new life with my young bride in the big city. Hunting simply faded away because it wasn’t readily accessible anymore. I had an old .45 on a closet shelf to defend me and my wife, but firearms simply faded from my life for the most part.

In my 30s with a young family, I was drawn back towards firearms as a self defense tools to keep my wife and children safe from two-legged predators, especially as we lived in an area where those were becoming prevalent.

Now in my early 40s, I find myself drawn to different firearms for different applications. I like pocket pistols for concealed carry, and service pistols for shooting classes. AR-15s have become something to tinker with and modify, the way some people work on cars, or do crafts. I especially enjoy .22 rifles now for the simple joys of target shooting, and gain a great deal of pleasure in using them to teach new shooters the basics of marksmanship. Firearms have become an opportunity to share and to teach, and bond with my kids and watch them mature.

I suspect that as time marches on, what firearms mean to me will continue to change and evolve as my life continues to change and evolve.

What do firearms mean to you in your life, and how has that changed over time?