My pellet gun -- it was a BB gun, truth be told, but "pellet gun" sounds much more dangerous -- was with me constantly during my pre-teen years, as I explored the woods on my family's small farm on weekends. I wasn't a peacenik tree hugger back then; I'd shoot at anything, alive or not.
I wasn't that good of a shot, though, so I rarely wounded or killed anything.
One Saturday, however, I took aim at a Blue jay perched nearby. I was in its space, I suppose, and it was angry. It would circle in the air above me, then dive suddenly toward my head before perching on a nearby limb to watch me and re-calculate its attack.
It was during this brief respite that I cocked my BB gun, aimed, and pulled the trigger.
The pellet struck the bird in the side of the head, killing it instantly. I ran to it, picked it up, and examined it closely. The bird was lifeless, but it was still beautiful. It's colors were vivid: the contrast between the light and dark blue feathers was remarkable. Realizing that I had taken the life of something so beautiful caused me to become sick to my stomach.
I dropped the bird on the ground and ran home. Overwhelmed. Embarrassed. Guilty.
The experience taught me I'm not built for killing. I just don't have the constitution for it, really. Even if faced with a do-or-die situation, I'm unsure I could view another living thing as simply a target to be shot.
Chris Kyle could.
The ability to detach might have caused problems with his marriage, and created challenges with his own emotional health. But Kyle's skill and abilities saved the lives of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.
It's said that those who can do, and those who can't teach. Or, as in this case, those who can't write about it on a film blog.