I have a shy streak. Always have. When I was small, I was that tentative kid usually hiding behind her dad's legs; years later I was the quiet one kind of hanging back on the playground. Don't get me wrong, I was never a crowd-shunning antisocial who fled in terror from all human contact -- I was just never the most outgoing kid in the class. Of course, as an adult, I've largely outgrown my younger shy and quiet tendencies, but to a certain extent some personality traits are just part of your core fiber, no matter how much you "grow up."
I credit certain confidence-boosting activities and achievements with urging me out of my shell, and learning to shoot and beginning my life as a hunter definitely rank high among them. It's nearly impossible to feel shy or insecure when you're holding your own at a rifle range (the first time I so much as shot a bullseye at 25 yards with a .22, I thought I was ready to rule the free world), or skinning a buck you took at 245 yards. Self sufficiency like that has the potential to build even the most fragile of egos into the strongest of characters. I've seen it in myself, and I've seen it as I watch various novice outdoorsmen progress through their series of first guns, first hunts, and first kills.
I'd imagine we have at least a few instructors on the blog (and I KNOW we have more than a few proud parents!), and I'm wondering what those of us with regular exposure to "hunters-in-training" think about the power of the sport to boost confidence and build character. Admittedly it's a pretty biased question granted I just shared my strong belief in the phenomenon, but I'm curious to hear your experiences with it. We certainly have more to thank hunting for than the meat on the table. -K.H.