Update: Your responses to the question have been delightful! One blogger suggested "Why I shoot" should become a meme. I think maybe it has.
...I'm way short of time (trying to get caught up at work), so this won't be as introspective as I'd like. Perhaps that's for the best.
Though I was exposed to firearms -- rifle and shotgun -- at a very early age, and enjoyed rifle-shooting off and on in our backyard (the 1950s-vintage bombshelter, which we used during tornadoes, made a fine backstop) as I was growing up, as an adult it was a bit over a decade before I shot again.
What started me shooting was not so much being robbed at gunpoint twice or even my fascination with small complicated devices. It was politics.
Plenty of shooters become political after realizing their interest is threatened by legislators. I don't know how common it is to move from conservatism to anarchism to small-l libertarianism, slowly working out along the way that self-defense is a basic human right and starting from there, resolve to become adequately proficient with firearms, especially ones suited to defending oneself.
I'm not a hunter -- never really had the knack. I'm not driven to make long-distance bullseyes or even to become a Seven-Gun Combat Ninjamaster (or whatever it is) . Just wanted to be good enough to be able to say NO! to bad guys in a language they could understand.
How about you? Why do you shoot? Why do you carry, if you carry at all?
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
7 months ago