Small Caliber Book Reviews: Zen, Meditation, & The Art of Shooting

2015-01-10 21_53_25-Nathaniel From TheFirearmBlog.com - nfitch84@gmail.com - Gmail

Don’t Worry, Be Happy; that was my eighth uncommon shooting tip from back in November. So then, Zen, Meditation, & The Art of Shooting by Ray Mancini is a book that immediately interested me. Relaxing, loosening up, learning to focus without distraction, and going to the range with a clear mind and a good mood are some of the unspoken keys to good shooting.

Zen itself, however, is not something with which I am very familiar. Indeed, eastern mysticism is something that appeals to many Westerners, but often serves only as a veneer covering up marketable nonsense. So while hopeful that this book would help add to what I already felt was important to shooting, I also went in a little hesitantly.

At 75 pages long in print, Zen, Meditation, & The Art of Shooting is not a very long book. Indeed, it reads more like an extended paper than a book. This is not to suggest I found the book too short; in fact I thought the length was very appropriate given the subject matter being handled. There is only so much that can be said about the virtues of applying Zen to the shooting sports, and Ray Mancini says these things and does not generally repeat himself.

My hopefulness was rewarded, in the end. I found myself nodding along as I read; it’s clear Mancini knows shooting, and his application of Zen thinking to it seems to me an appropriate formalization of my own observations in the shooting sports. While Mancini focuses on pistol shooting, little he says in the book is applicable only to pistol shooting, and the book is easily a general manual on how to apply Zen to the shooting sports as a whole. Beginners, in particular, will find Mancini’s advice sets a very productive tone for the rest of their shooting career, and I found his writing easy to understand and quite readable. On this strength I would recommend Zen, Meditation, & The Art of Shooting to all shooters who feel they could use a little improvement, but especially to new shooters looking to develop the correct attitude for maximizing their potential in the shooting sports.

The biggest objection I have to this book is its price: about $20 on Amazon. This is out of the ordinary for most ebooks this size, and I think many will find that price is too high for what is in essence an extended essay on learning how to focus.

EDIT: Mancini’s publisher has just contacted me to let me know that the book has been reduced in price to $4.99, and that all proceeds will go to benefit Australia’s Leukaemia Foundation.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Not too surprising. If you treat shooting like a martial art – which it is, really – the principles of zen easily apply.

    • Hence the cover of the Magpul DVDs.

  • Sulaco

    I prefer Zen shopping….

  • Don Ward

    For something so “zen”, the cover photo sure is sporting a lot of complicated high-tech gizmos.