Guns: The Passage into Manhood


Many tribal cultures have rituals that boys must take part in and complete in order to be considered a man. If conquered, that boy is then considered to have passed into the circle of adulthood by the rest of his tribe. In these cultures, the “man-to-be” is tested in the areas of his strength, bravery, or wisdom, but the end result is the same. The boy shows himself and everyone else that he a man.

How We Think

In his book Wild At Heart, John Eldredge mentions that grown men feel like boys until they are initiated into manhood by a significant man or men in their life. Developmentally and spiritually, there is something that happens in us when we are tested and declared “ready” to be a man. When that testing and declaration is missing in our lives, we think and act like we are still boys.


This initiation into the realm of a man was lost at some point in American culture. It just isn’t done anymore. I’m guessing it happened during the time of the industrial revolution when fathers went off to work in the factories.


For some reason, I’ve always viewed guns as an initiation into manhood. In order to be trusted with a deadly tool by my peers, training, knowledge and maturity must be demonstrated. In my eyes, if you handled guns competently, you were a man. If you didn’t handle guns with competence (or at all), you were still a boy.

My Father’s approach to weapons training was very laid back. It certainly wasn’t organized. I don’t blame him for this. I believe he did the best he knew how. From what I’ve gathered, my grandfather didn’t officially walk Dad through how to handle a gun either.

When I first realized that I wanted a gun, I felt a little unsure of myself. There were times when I was hit with a barrage of negative thoughts. The message, “You’re not good enough, strong enough, or man enough.” hit me on a regular basis.

God The Father

Following John Eldredge’s advice, I’ve asked God the Father to train me in how to competently and confidently handle a deadly weapon. In answer, He has surrounded me with many knowledgeable men (including my earthly father) to accomplish this. It feels like He is saying to me, “You ARE man enough.”


I perceive a tiny but significant change in myself. I have been trained by the God who prepares my hands for war. I feel like that part of me is catching up with my physical body. I have passed into manhood.


Do you view the responsible handling and ownership of firearms as a rite of passage into manhood?

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