Last summer, I shot a gun for the first time. After a quick lesson on the mechanics of a .22 calibre handgun and the basics of safety, we entered the firing range through a haze of acrid smoke and the cacophony of tiny explosions.
When I squeezed the trigger, I found it both disturbing and exhilarating to feel the inordinate power in that fist-sized piece of metal.
This simple technology - the mixture of charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate that makes up gunpowder - has fundamentally changed our civilization, giving us everything from the real-life genocide of the First Nations to the cultural tedium of a Schwarzenegger flick.
You don't need Michael Moore to tell you guns are big business in the States, not only for "homeland protection" but also for hunting. Lately, though, instead of waiting for hours in a rainy blind with a thermos and a rifle, hunters are equipping themselves with sophisticated technological gadgets aimed at bringing the sport into the 21st century.
Global Positioning Systems (GPS), night-vision goggles and laser finders can all be used to pinpoint animal locations over large areas. Or, for those that remain stubbornly hidden, you can use the GameFinder Pro, an infrared gadget that senses minute temperature differences, or the Bionic Ear, complete with omni-directional microphone.
Or you can simply relax in your cabin and wait until your computer, gathering data from sensors tracking movement and scent patterns, informs you that an unsuspecting animal has wandered into your "kill zone." Now you know what you're dealing with, just wander outside and shoot.
All this gadgetry has recently moved online in the form of Live-Shot. com. As the name suggests, Live-Shot is not a virtual hunting game. It is real. Users pay a membership fee to control a pan/tilt/zoom camera and a rifle through the Internet.
Currently, members can fire .22 calibre bullets at paper targets (you can get the perforated target shipped to your front door as proof), but in the near future you'll be able to take aim at a blackbuck antelope or wild hog that wanders in front of a spookily unmanned rifle wired to your mouse.
Live-Shot uses RifleVision ($1,175), an LCD video monitor that attaches to a specially designed rifle scope, to increase your field of vision. Through the monitor, you're able to record a DVD to show off the big kill to family and friends.
Many hunters and anglers defend their actions by invoking the communion they feel with nature when out in the field. They claim it's also humbling to kill your own meat. Western culture has so sanitized the killing of animals that meat seems to grow naturally out of styrofoam trays like mould on fruit.
But humanist values are nowhere to be found in Live-Shot.
When Nintendo's Duck Hunt came out in 1984, people delighted in trying to shoot the giggling dog that grabs the fallen fowl.
If Duck Hunt is being replaced with a real online duck hunt, those days of relative innocence are over. I may have found that moment exhilarating when I pulled the trigger of a .22, but the idea of hunting animals for sport nauseates me, and the development of technologically advanced ways to go in for the kill makes me sicker still.