We went to see Brave back in July simply because it is about a princess who knows how to use a bow. Today it is being released on DVD and I'm looking forward to watching it again. I loved the movie but it got me thinking about how women responding to violence with violence is still a bit taboo in our society. It often takes something tragic to make a woman decide to start taking control of her life and learn about firearms. Very few of us will ever be physically strong enough to fight off a man but guns are a great equalizer. Why aren't we raising our daughters to value their own life and give them real self-defense training?
Of course there are exceptions. The best man at our wedding and his wonderful wife have successfully raised an amazing daughter. She is strong, capable, intelligent, and heading out into the world on her own now. Being the only girl with an older and a younger brother, she's learned how to defend herself. She is not afraid to be competitive when needed. She can shoot very well and has no issues standing up to guys that try to show her how its done. I'm a touch jealous of her upbringing.
On the Fourth of July, the best man had friends over and took the kids out back to work on their rifle skills. He came away with this:
"I had somewhat an epiphany a few days ago, while giving shooting instruction to some awesome young women that I know. Most guys want to hang out with girls that shoot. But most guys are too cheap to actually sacrifice what it takes to purchase decent weapons, much less ever get to the point where they actually "teach" a woman to shoot. Remember this "girls" - A boy will invite you to play "Airsoft" and try to impress you and gain your attention. A man will teach you to use a deadly weapon in order to protect yourself because he is naturally inclined to protect what is physically less capable of protecting itself. Learn to discern between each and choose wisely."
Reading that makes me realize just how lucky I am that Knitebane fell into my lap when he did because I was barking up the wrong tree when looking for a mate. I think I once told him, "I don't need a man. I can zip up my own dresses, open my own jars, and make my own money." It really was just dumb luck that I found an honorable man.
"Women are empowered! We can take care of ourselves! We don't need men to protect us!" I remember being told this in Health class in Jr. High when discussing sexuality. There was some discussion of self-defense but nothing of actually picking up a gun to even the odds. Apparently just thinking we were tough was going to protect us.
My family history has its own cases of violence that I almost repeated. It was generational and I grew up hearing bits and pieces but I never got the full story until just a few years ago. A common thread was sexual assault led to fear which lead to finding a strong and capable protector whose price was often steep. Sometimes just verbal abuse, sometimes beatings, and sometimes facing fits of rage that have become legend. Although I grew up with a wonderful father, the family history still had influence. Then I had an unfortunate incident with a neighbor that changed me forever. He did very little physical damage but tons of emotional damage. Suddenly I was repeating the family history and was driven by fear. I did not trust men and saw no need to involve them in my life. I can recall my fears being manipulated even more by women who were "trying to help me" by promoting my fear and encourage me to embrace being a victim, e.g. All men are rapists. I fell for it.
When I finally decided to give men a try, I was already a legal adult. The first man I dated was a Desert Storm veteran, very handsome, long blond hair, very protective of women, but abusive and controlling behind closed doors. I ran as soon as I realized what was in store for me. The string of failures just kept getting longer but I was starting to figure out what I should be looking for early in the relationship.
My mother was afraid she had not broken the circle because it was pretty obvious to everyone that I was looking for a protector. There was a very conscious awareness in me that I did seek comfort in Knitebane because of his strength. I knew he would defend me to the death from the first time he held me as tight as he could. What I didn't realize at the time was that he was going to encourage me by any and every means possible to learn to defend myself. That's a man who loves his wife!
Contrary to what most people would believe, the twelve year difference between Knitebane and myself has been a benefit for me more than him. With age comes patience and I taxed all of Knitebane's patience dealing with my fears. Somewhere in my mid 20's, I decided the world was not so scary and I went overboard with my new-found freedom. I never got hurt but I took chances that were probably not the smartest. Knitebane was always a broken record talking about getting us into a concealed carry class and I just ignored him with a "Yes dear." It took ten years and our house getting broken into before I finally started taking him seriously.
The past few years, others have been joining the chorus. Every time I see our gunsmith, Tom, he lectures me on how it is MY responsibility to learn how to defend myself, not Knitebane's. Just like I can't carry a cop around with me all the time, I can't carry my husband around with me either.
Having a gun isn't a talisman. You have to know what you are doing. Some may disagree with what I'm going to say but as long as I don't become complacent and actually do continue to improve my skills, I stand by my decision. Almost all of my formal instruction has been in short, hour-long individual lessons. For handgun training, I don't have much more than five or six hours of formal instruction. For two years, I did not carry my gun with me because I thought I needed more training but never actually pursued it. This year I started to carry daily on body with the gun I've had the most instruction with, a revolver. When I first decided to do this, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and would draw over and over again. This is very different from .22 steel match and firing from a low ready. There is still much to learn and perfect but I'm not crippled by the fear of the unknown anymore.
I respect and acknowledge the full responsibility carrying a gun brings. I don't wear a gun to kill, I wear a gun to live. My life is valuable and worth protecting.
Last night, Knitebane mentioned I should go read Garand Gal as I am often out after midnight. "Nothing good happens after midnight." True. I have been witness to someone fleeing from police at 02:00 after trying to steal a radio. Our neighborhood is an undeveloped subdivision with lots of half-finished and never lived in buildings. There has been a lot of theft here too. This spring, an obvious drug user attacked our car while we were at a stoplight 3 miles from our house. Well within walking distance. Knowing all of this, I still walk close to midnight with the dogs because I procrastinate till the dogs start threatening to redecorate the house if they don't burn off some steam. I should not be putting all of us in danger like that. I thought I was doing my best to not be stupid and embrace Knitebane's thinking of if there is trouble there, don't be there. It was a good wake up call.
Knitebane and I have discussed our training goals and we realize that getting training for me has got to be at the top of the list of priorities. The last semi-auto we purchased has picked me as its new owner. It was never meant for me but the gun decided. I shoot fairly accurately with it but I know I can be better. I do NOT have good muscle memory when it comes to drawing from concealment or even a holster and trying to get the safety off. I've been watching a lot of gun shows lately and I noticed just how the pros do a lot of dry fire practice and just rehearse, rehearse, rehearse before they actually shoot one bullet. This should not have been an epiphany for me but it was. I used to play in my High School band and we would rehearse without ever playing a note, just singing and fingering the music. I worked on my embouchure with just my mouthpiece. Breaking things down without ever playing a note still built the muscle memory, still reinforced how my part mixed with the rest of the band. It was not uncommon for the entire band to rehearse marching without playing or sometimes even carrying our instruments but we were still rehearsing and successful in competitions.
After realizing I can still improve without being at the range, I turned to the one closest to me for help. I take advantage of Knitebane a lot when I'm learning something new because I am a firm believer in very physical training. If I need to adjust something, don't just tell me, TOUCH ME. I also like to use mirrors and video to see what I'm doing and how I'm doing it right or wrong. So the Sunday before the election, we worked on me drawing from a holster with retention and just a cover garment. After about 5 minutes, we saw some improvement. I love to shoot just for fun but I also need that muscle memory and once a week is going to take a long time to get it.
2013 is thankfully still seven weeks away but I have some goals for myself between now and the New Year.
1. 15 minutes of drills with an unloaded gun 3 to 5x a week.
2. Review the budget and our calendar and try to get into at least 2 self-defence classes before summer 2013.
3. Get back into some form of competition. Learning to deal with stress is important and it gives me a goal to work towards.
4. Schedule another Appleseed shoot for us. Don't know how long it will take me to make rifleman but I know I can do it with practice.