Chris Kyle was reputed to be the deadliest sniper in American military history and often took veterans out shooting as a way to ease the trauma of war.

Taking aim at a target, he once wrote, would help coax them back into normal, everyday life with a familiar, comforting activity.

But his death at a Texas shooting range — allegedly at the hands of a troubled Iraq War veteran he was trying to help — has highlighted the potential dangers of the practice.

Former soldiers and others say shooting a gun can sometimes be as therapeutic as playing with a dog or riding a horse.

Yet psychiatrists wonder whether the smell of gunpowder and the crack of gunfire can trigger unpredictable responses, particularly in someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.