A new year, a new start, blah, blah, blah. Everyone is doing lots of deep self reflection but me. I'm having a pity-party. I'm 38 years old and just like everyone else, my life has taken a completely different direction than I had planned. Most have been really good changes in my life but...I've got a bit of envy for the 2016 beginning female shooter.
In 2008, I started going to the range weekly after our house was broken into and I was told to get armed. This was the second time my home had been violated in my life and I was done being a victim. I traded my chalk for a revolver and insisted we go to the range every week.
Now I've worked in IT since 1998. I work in IT because I don't like women and I prefer to be around men. I have no girly talents when it comes to my physical appearance and never have. I wear jeans and polos every day. My friends tease me that "homeless" is one of my hairstyles. Thank God baseball caps are required when shooting. Although I don't have a large collection of shoes, I do have more holsters than shoes. I carry in the same spot but some holsters just work better with some activities or clothing.
Over the past eight years, I have been one of the women trying to bring more women into the shooting sports. When I first started shooting, I was always the novelty or token female at the range. No matter where we were, I was the ONLY female shooter. I'd like to think I didn't have a chip on my shoulder but I'm sure I did.
Only one range ever treated me badly but lots of gun stores did and wouldn't talk to me until Knitebane showed up. Anytime there was a female only shooting event, I would attend. I joined every female gun clubs in my area that my schedule allowed. I didn't want to be alone and that was my only motivation! I met a handful of women who where more advance than me but most had even less experience than I did or no curiosity to learn more than they had to. At times, I was like that too.
There were multiple events that pushed me to learn more. Very few were flattering. I often learned due to the kindness of strangers but I had no goals and learning was sporadic and inefficient.
In 2014, I became an NRA Basic Pistol instructor because one of my rare female friends didn't want to be the only female in a class of 30. That got me into volunteering at NRA Women on Target events as often as I can where I get women to shoot a revolver or semi-auto for the first time.
As a couple, Knitebane has been a huge supporter of my passion to educate women. He is known for his female friendly attitude which prompted a local ladies group that I'm not even part of to make him their Chief RSO! He's going to become an instructor before you know it.
I hadn't planned on keeping the NRA certification, it was just to help out a friend but I forgot how much I love teaching. I've taught GED Math classes, college computer classes, riding instruction, and dog training. The Ah-HA! moments are a little different but they're still there and it is addicting.
In 2015, I took The Well Armed Woman Certification course and have a quota to meet of students I work with each year plus my own minimum training requirements. It has actually been a good kick in the tush and the women are all very, very supportive. Most were tomboys and almost everyone has the same motivation - to empower other women to take charge of their own safety, encourage newbies to commit to the training and time it takes to become proficient, and make sure no one has a bad experience (like most of us did) when they first go to the range - the exact mentor we wish we had when we first started.
As I work at becoming a better instructor, with Knitebane as my RSO, I see that my beginner students have a much easier start than me. It is positive, it pushes them but doesn't overwhelm them, they have clear goals for at least the first six months to a year as we work through the NRA Winchester Marksmanship Qualification program, and they are all smiles at the end of the day. I look at their groupings and compare it to where I was a year after going to the range weekly (and paying for one on one instruction) to where they are after just ONE or TWO afternoons with us and...IT ISN'T FAIR!!!
To be honest, I love it when a woman puts her trust in me to show her that guns are not scary and that she can do this. I love that she will have opportunities that I did not have. I love that women are focusing on training for self-defense, not just getting a gun because their husband bugged them to. I love that they are having fun and being supportive and encouraging to the other women around them because it's really fun to shoot like a girl.