The Healing Power Of Nature's Therapy
Shooting Times & Country|June 30, 2021
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on our mental health, but Barry Stoffell says that rural pursuits can help create perfect peace of mind
Barry Stoffell

It is so often the case that you don’t fully appreciate something until it’s gone; life teaches us this time after time. With clay grounds closed, shoots canceled and many field sports activities severely curtailed for much of the past 15 months due to COVID-19, many of us lost, albeit temporarily, access to the sports we love.

In my case, this led to some serious reflection on how much I take field sports for granted. And I’m certain that I won’t be the only one left with a far greater appreciation of the role that these activities play in my life. But what is it that makes them so very important for our mental and physical well-being?

The importance of field sports extends far beyond the ‘fresh air and exercise’ trope, despite the undeniable feeling of joie de vivre that a hard day’s rough shooting and a good dose of vitamin D induces.

In a BASC survey published in 2016, 84% of participants said that shooting was important for their physical well-being, while a whopping 95% said that it was important for their personal well-being.

Prescience

With unwittingly gloomy prescience, 86% of those surveyed said that their ‘enjoyment of life’ would be negatively impacted were they prevented from taking part in shooting activities.

This is surely due, in part, to the fact that many of our sporting endeavors bring us into contact with other people (remember that?). Humans are inherently social animals and we thrive on the company of others, particularly those of like mind. From Sussex via Scandinavia to South Kerry, in every place, I have lived the field sports community has provided a sense of belonging. It has also given me a support network that has brought inestimable benefits to my life since I was old enough to hold a lamp for my neighbour.

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