Hunting & Shooting Idioms

The west has captured the imagination of Americans as well as the rest of the world. From the Spanish vaquero emerged the American cowboy, men and boys who herded and maintained large herds of cattle on the free range with the help of ropes and horses and the inevitable cook wagon. Guns and pistols were used for protection, to hunt for food and for recreation. Cowboys came from all strata of life, including former slaves and aristocrats. They were men who went west in the second half of the nineteenth century for adventure and work.

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As the old west changed with the diaappearance of free range, the advent of fences and advanced modes of transportation, the cowboy adapted but the image of the old west remained imbedded in the consciousness of the world as a glamourous occupation, rather than the dirty hard job it was. The cowboy may do his job now with trucks and airplanes, but we still see him riding herd on the free range with a gun in hand and "shooting from the hip" in a battle at the "OK Corral". He may not have to "grab a bull by its horns" ,except as recreation and a chance to earn a little extra money in a rodeo, but the images remains with Americans as idioms used in everyday life.

The colonist to the new world and the pioneers on the western frontier of the Americas needed guns to hunt game for food and for protection. Almost every man and boy and some women learned to shoot and to hunt for game. Recreation for the physically active young men on the frontier were extensions of work, just as the rodeo was for the cowboy and vaquero. There were shooting matches, as well as the inevitable foot races and gambling.

Guns may not be a necessity for protection and for food now, but shooting and hunting continue to be popular sports. It is not necessarily a gentleman's sport in the United States and Canad, as it is in Europe. The sport grew out of ordinary persons work. Because the activity of hunting and shooting was so necessay and is so popular today, there are many idioms derived from these activities. Today to "set one's sights on something" usually means to set a goal or objective rather than to sight an object with one's gun.

Shrink
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw a ball into something; to shoot at something with a gun
Sentence 1
I' ll take a shot at that basket. Take a shot at at that deer.
Meaning 2
to try to do something
Sentence 2
I'll take a shot at taking the murder case, even though it's difficult.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to try and divert or confuse pursuers
Sentence 1
The fox crossed the stream to throw the dogs off his track.
Meaning 2
to confuse someone
Sentence 2
The questions threw the speaker off the track.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
not on target or the bull's eye
Sentence 1
I aimed my arrow, but it went wide of the mark. I aimed the bombs at the munitions factory, but was wide of the mark and didn't hit it.
Meaning 2
to not achieve a goal or objective, to do less than expected
Sentence 2
I was wide of the mark on that contract. I thought we would get the bid.