Guest Blogger Maggie chimes in once again with the reasons she thinks women should get in to shooting. We couldn’t agree more!
I’m always so excited when I get to pick up a new gun. I look at my new purchase in awe thinking, “Wow, this is MINE”. This time the newest member of the family was a Mossberg 510 mini shotgun. It’s my first shotgun and it will be perfect for me and to teach my kids with as well. As I look at it, all I can think about is taking it to the range, but it’s about ten o’clock at night now and the range won’t be open until 10 am tomorrow.
It’s exactly this feeling that I want to see other female firearms owners experience. What I have seen after taking women to the range and speaking with others is that some women have a tendency to hold back on how they feel about owning and shooting guns (at least in this part of the USA). It’s almost like they feel they don’t have the right to really own one or a place in that world — I don’t know why, but I imagine that it has something to do with shooting not being a “feminine” activity. That it’s not OK to express an interest in things that are loud and make really big holes in the target. But after speaking with the women who have come shooting with me, I learned they quickly realize how empowering and fun it can be, too.
The days of the quiet, polite female who takes a back seat in a man’s world are long since gone, but society’s stereotypes die hard and there are still those who might view certain sports and activities as masculine. I wasn’t raised this way, in fact, in my family all the kids were treated equally regardless of gender. My brother took his turn washing the dishes and cooking dinner, and my sisters and I put in our time mowing the lawn and helping my father with projects in the garage. My parents always told my four sisters and me that we could do anything we wanted, and they stood behind us all the way. I never would have thought I couldn’t own, handle, or even build guns if I put my mind to it and wanted it badly enough. It took me a while to realize that not everyone is as fortunate as we were.
I find it interesting to read about strong women who stand out and do things that are not considered “ladylike”. For example, on July 4th, I read the story of Sonya Thomas, who at 5 feet and 105 pounds has become a competitive eating champion. She gets up in front of crowds of spectators and beats her male competitors time and time again, often to the jeers of the audience and sometimes with a barrage of garbage raining down on her. Say what you will about the gross out factor of competitive eating, the fact that Sonya walked into a stadium full of Philly fans to compete in the 2005 Wing Bowl where she was touted by the crowd as the “feminist villain” shows that she has a confidence that is admirable. This past July 4th she won the annual Nathan’s hotdog eating contest in the newly created women’s division.
And then you have someone like Bonnie, a 70 year old grandmother who found a man had broken into her New Hampshire home undressed, and was sitting at her kitchen table eating a meal from her refrigerator. She was rightly concerned about the safety of her grandson asleep upstairs and grabbed a bat and starting beating the man until he left the house. Bonnie told the media, “I don’t want anyone to ever think they can hurt my family and get away with it. You have got to take care of yourself,” she says, “You’re not weak, be strong. There’s always a way to protect yourself. Use it.” Exactly. Now that is a woman who has confidence in herself, and it showcases that no one should ever feel the need to hold back when protecting themselves — male or female.
These are two different women, who feel comfortable enough with themselves to act outside what can be considered acceptable for women in our society. They are two women who are not afraid to draw on the confidence they feel inside themselves and do what feels right for them. I understand it can be hard to walk into male dominated environments, like a gun shop or shooting range, especially alone. This is one of the reasons I decided to become a firearms instructor. I enjoy introducing students, and especially women, to the world of firearms.
Once women make the decision to go for it and enter the range, I find many are afraid to handle the gun because of a fear they might break it. So they handle it gently, like it’s fragile or irreplaceable. Don’t be afraid to handle your gun roughly ladies! (By this I mean don’t pick it up like you would a newborn infant). A 9mm handgun can withstand twenty five thousand pounds of blow back pressure (psi) when you pull the trigger; believe me, even if you are at the gym every day, you can’t duplicate that kind of power. It’s actually better not to assist or baby your gun when chambering a round. Rack the slide and let it fly forward. Really get to know your firearm, touch everything on it and know how it works! Please be safe though and follow all safe gun handling rules including making sure it’s unloaded first. The gun is just a tool to get the job done, it’s no different than many other tools you will use on a daily basis. And it’s your tool. Whether your goal is to send some rounds down range at a piece of paper for fun or to gain some experience in order to keep a gun for self defense, like any other tool you own, knowing intimately how it works will allow it to work best for you.
It doesn’t matter if you want to shoot in pink earmuffs, or you buy a rifle DuraCoated in a purple camouflage pattern — in fact, bedazzle your gun case if you like, because it only matters how you feel inside about shooting your gun. You are just as capable and probably more responsible, than the guy in the next port. Don’t assume he knows any more than you do. Don’t misunderstand; my goal is only to encourage women to have confidence in their own ability to handle a gun. I have been the recipient of much encouragement and support of male instructors and gun owners.
I look at shooting as my time to relax so I often enjoy shooting alone. It’s at least as good as a visit to the spa. I have to clear my mind and turn off my phone to concentrate on what I am doing, especially if I want to shoot well. But I know that sometimes it’s easier to go with a friend.
My favorite experience was taking a friend to shoot who was sure she just would not be able to do it. Yes, of course she thought it was great that I could but there was no reasoning with her. It was too complicated, too much recoil, too much unfounded fear that she could never protect herself — that it wasn’t her job, her right, her responsibility to do so. After she fired the handguns, and very well I might add, I convinced her to shoot the AR-15. After the first round, she just paused and then looked at me. “Wow,” she said, “that felt great. I can do this. I feel so empowered.” Hello, and welcome to my world. Remember ladies, it’s your gun, don’t be afraid of it. Own it.