Humans have very associative memories. By that, I mean something we see, hear or smell immediately makes us think of something else. It takes us back like a time machine to memories from long ago.
Music is a well-known way of forging links to memories of the distant past. As a child of the ‘80s, I can’t hear a certain song by Madonna without flashing back to a club outside my alma mater, Michigan State University. It isn’t necessarily the greatest memory, but it’s mine.
When it comes to guns, ammo and shooting, smells trigger the ol’ memory parade for most people. Every time I smell bleach, I think about my first job as a dishwasher at a seafood restaurant—even though that was almost 30 years ago. The smell of guns and bore cleaners ping my memory banks just as hard, and I know I’m not the only one. Throw out the term “nostalgic smell” to most gun owners, and I’d bet nine out of 10 folks would respond with “Hoppe’s No. 9.” Hoppe’s is just one of many odors which trip the mental triggers of gun owners. Here are our top eight most nostalgic smells in shooting: