Please, Don’t Teach My Wife To Shoot!

So recently I got to talking to the dishwasher repairman about shooting (somehow), probably because hunting season was about to begin.  I mentioned that I like to shoot pistols and that we had started a women’s handgun league at our range.  He seemed a bit surprised.  When he was packing up his tools to leave, I mentioned that if he knew any women that liked to shoot, or might want to learn, that I would be happy to send information to them about our women’s activities.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man’s head whip around quite so fast.  He looked like I was from Mars when he said, “There’s no way I’m teaching my wife to shoot!”

I said, “Really?  She might like it and actually be good at it.”

He said, “Yeah, that’s why I’m not teaching her.”

Seriously, that man looked completely terrified at the very thought of his wife being able to shoot a gun.  Does it really make him more comfortable knowing he has guns in the house and she DOESN’T know how to use them?  Or is he, personally, just too afraid that she might turn on him?  Either way, that’s not good.  This was a man that I could tell through our conversation really enjoyed shooting, whether hunting with a rifle, shooting a shotgun, or even a handgun.  Apparently, though, he was horrified at the thought of his wife sharing in those hobbies with him.

Houston, we have a problem.

I guess we just have to assume that in his opinion:  A)  Shooting is only for men; B)  She doesn’t need to know how to defend herself – she has him to do that for her (as long as he is with her 24/7); C)  It didn’t matter that should she have to try to use the gun in a bad situation, she might do something wrong and harm herself or someone else unintentionally; or D)  He just really doesn’t trust her not to turn on him.

I didn’t get into it with him, but there was so much I wanted to say.  Maybe his wife really is a horrible person that shouldn’t be trusted with a firearm, and if that’s the case, I feel sorry for him; but chances are that’s not the case.  And maybe she wouldn’t enjoy shooting, but who knows, because she’s not going to get a chance to try if he has anything to say about it.

How about this scenario:  Maybe their relationship would benefit from sharing some hobbies, such as time spent together at the hunting cabin or practicing their skills at the range?

All I know is that most of the ladies I’ve met who shoot, enjoy doing so with their husbands/significant others and spending time with them just as any couple would who play golf or tennis together.  And maybe my dishwasher repairman just didn’t want his wife invading his “man time” with the guys, but apparently she won’t have that option – unless another girlfriend comes along to let her know how much fun she is missing.  We can only hope :0)

Ladies, You Are In Good Company!

Everybody is talking about the huge influx of women to the shooting arena these days, to the tune of between 15 and 20 MILLION female gun owners in the U.S. – and that’s not counting the number of women who shoot, but do not have a gun registered in their name.  Maybe they shoot a gun purchased by their husband, or they shoot someone else’s rifle when they hunt, but regardless, that’s a lot of women; so I decided to try to get a better picture of just how many that is.

You can’t begin to come close the number of women gun owners in the U.S. until you add together the numbers of active military personnel in the following countries:  United States, India, Syria, Thailand, Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Indonesia, Italy, Vietnam, Japan, Mexico, North Korea, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Russia, Myanmar, Morocco, Malaysia, Jordan, Israel, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Cambodia.  Active military personnel from those countries COMBINED are approximately 15,095,300, which means the number of female gun owners is greater than the military force of 30 countries.

And compared with national population numbers, female gun owners would equal the number of citizens in either the Netherlands, Chili, or Romania – or more than the populations of Jamaica, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, and Ireland COMBINED (15,548,522).  Feeling empowered yet?

How about more than twice the number of motorcycles in the US (7,752,926), more than all the redheads in Scotland and Ireland combined (10,700,000), or about 15-20 times the number of lawyers in America?

The bottom line is that 15 to 20 million of anything is a lot, and for that many women to actually purchase a firearm, there must be a good reason – many good reasons, to be exact.

Of course, many of the active military personnel in the world today are women who own firearms; and if you add the number of female law enforcement officers, you have a large number of women who are armed to protect and defend.  Many other women who own guns are prompted to do so by a desire to defend themselves and others on a personal and individual basis, and with the current numbers of violent crimes committed against women on an annual basis, that’s probably a good idea.

Hunting for food or sport is another reason many women own and use guns.  The number of new female hunters is now outpacing the number of new male hunters, according to the NRA; and according to the National Sporting Goods Association, there were 163,000 new female hunters in 2009.

But women across the nation are also finding out there are shooting sports that have nothing to do with hunting or self-defense.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation tells us that more than 19 million Americans participate in target shooting each year, many of whom are women.  But standing on the line and shooting at a stationary target is not enough for some women; these ladies want a little action in their shooting, hence the rise in attendance at practical shooting events throughout the U.S.

“Imagine combining the athleticism of competitive sports with the choreography of modern dance, then toss in the adrenaline rush of skiing down a double black diamond sky slope,” is how the USPSA Ladies’ Zone website describes the sport of practical shooting.  The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) sponsor many events across the nation where women, and men, navigate various “stages” while shooting at stationary and moving targets.  These events are becoming extremely popular with women, many of whom attend camps such as those sponsored by Babes With Bullets in an effort to master this exciting sport.

If you add the fun of cowboy (cowgirl) shooting (who could resist dressing up in vintage clothing and participating in a shootout at the OK corral?), you have even more opportunities for female handgun shooters to have fun and compete alongside the men – check out SASS for more info.  But cowboy shooters do not only use handguns, and there are just as many women picking up rifles and shotguns these days, as pistols and revolvers.

The Revolutionary War Veterans Association is one group encouraging women to improve their rifle skills through Project Appleseed (Ladyseed) events.  The Appleseed program teaches three-position rifle shooting:  standing, sitting, and prone, as well as how to transition between positions, and throws in the history of the beginning of the American Revolutionary War just for fun.  Participants learn how important the rifleman was to the freedoms we now enjoy in our country, and with events just for women – click here – at only $10/weekend, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of these opportunities.   You might even earn your Rifleman’s patch in the process!

If rifles and handguns are not your cup of tea, how about shotgun shooting?  You don’t have to hunt birds to enjoy shooting a shotgun at your local skeet and trap range.  In fact, skeet shooting was named by a woman, Gertrude Hurlbutt, who suggested the Scandinavian word for “shooting” to replace the term of “clock shooting” in 1926.   And if Kim Rhode could compete against adults and win her first world title with a shotgun at the age of 13, going on to earn an Olympic gold medal at the age of 17, it might be something you could try, as well.  Now only in her early 30’s, Kim continues to compete (she will be a member of Team USA at the London Games), as well as encourage women and young people across the nation to become more involved in the shotgun sports.

So you can see that any woman who has a desire to shoot, also has many avenues and opportunities to do so, and with all of the many female shooting blogs (see Blog Roll to the right for just a few), Facebook pages, and support sites available today, I think we will continue to see women filling the lines at many more events in the future.

Life is Good!

Haven’t had time to finish a story I’ve been working on lately, or to finish my NRA pistol quals!  BUT our women’s fall handgun league is a reality, I am attending handgun instructor training this weekend, my husband and son will hopefully be bringing home a few coolers of meat after this weekend, and I’m going to the range tomorrow – life is good :0)

Maybe I can get back to the writing soon – lots going on to talk about.

Happy shooting!

Cathi

Never Give Advice Without Proper Ear Protection

CAUTION!  The following story contains hunting lingo and minor hunting visuals, along with a couple of pics.

Sunset behind the blind

Many parents will experience their child’s first hunt this year, so I thought I would share my memories of such an event.

I was privileged to go with my youngest son on his first hunt and witness the taking of his first deer.  That’s also the day I learned to always be prepared.

Although the reason escapes me now, I was the person disguised as the responsible adult and appointed to accompany my ten year-old son into the blind on his first opportunity to shoot a deer.  We were attending a 4-H hunt, along with my husband (who got to see the second deer fall), and we were excited about the prospects.  I knew Dylan could handle the gun, he had proven that many times at shooting practice; and he had all the other knowledge necessary to down his prize – now he just needed the practical experience.

Although it was November, the temperature in south Texas had just begun to drop into the comfortable zone.  Mornings and evenings were cool enough for a light jacket, but shorts were necessary around mid-day.

Our first foray into the blind was Friday evening about an hour before sundown.  The ranch owners dropped us off at our clearing, we unloaded the gear, climbed up into the blind, and got situated.  Sitting as still and as quiet as we could, it wasn’t long before we began to make out various bucks and does along the edge of the tree line.  Eventually, most of them made their way into the clearing, closer and closer to our hiding place.

I think I was more nervous than my son.  For one thing, we were on a doe hunt, not a trophy hunt; and we had all heard horror stories of the poor dad whose son accidentally shot a huge buck, only to have to almost mortgage the home in order to pay for it.  I definitely wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to us, but while the guide had his binoculars and my son had his scope, I was left to just fearfully advise him to be really sure he was aiming for a doe.

My young hunter and his guide picked out a couple of nice does grazing together a distance from the others.  They stayed close together, though, so while Dylan wanted the larger of the two, he had to make sure he had a clear shot and didn’t clip the other one in the process.

I, of course, was as nervous as a cat.  I must have asked a hundred times, “Are you sure that’s the one?”  “Are you sure it’s a doe?”  “Are you sure you have a good shot?”

This is probably why moms should not go on these hunts with their kids – or at least I shouldn’t.

He kept assuring me: “Mom, I have her in my sights.”  “Yes, Mom, it’s a doe.”  “I can take her.”   When she lifts her head, I’m going to take her.”

Well, I couldn’t quite hear that last declaration of assurance, since we were whispering the entire time and I was sitting behind him in the cramped space, so I removed my ear protection, moved in really close to his ear in order to ask my question one more time, and as soon as my face was directly behind the butt of his rifle – BOOM!  Yep, true to his word, my little man took his shot – and mom was promptly rendered not only speechless, but temporarily deaf as well.

That deer made one leap to the left and dropped to the ground.  Mission accomplished.  Neither of us could contain ourselves during the wait to make sure she didn’t get back up.  She was a nice doe, weighing in at over 100 pounds, and the best part was that his shot went straight through the heart.  It was a clean and compassionate kill – not bad at all for a first-time hunter!

I was so proud as I watched Dylan complete the processing, helped along by all the men who were available to instruct.  I took lots of pictures and we even got a taste of some of that venison in the form of nuggets that one of the dads so graciously cooked for dinner.

The rest of the weekend went just as well – a second deer down the next night – with hunting in the early morning and late afternoon; naps, card games, and shooting the breeze during the middle of the day; and declarations to hunt again next year at the end.  We hated to see the adventure come to a close.

I learned some lessons that weekend, though, that I will keep forever:  Always trust my son to do what he says he will do; stop worrying, sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience; and most importantly, never give advice without proper ear protection.

Fireside tamales at the end of the day

Dylan and his friend, Cody, pose proudly with Dylan's first deer

Coming soon….

A Girl, a Glock, and the NRA Pistol Qualifications

On working my way through the pistol quals, step by step – and how long it will take me to reach the top, Distinquished Expert.  Part 1 should be posted within a couple of days (I’ve made it to Marksman 1st Class), then Part II, well, who knows :0)  Stay tuned!

Just a quickie…

I scared it once, then split it the next time :0

What a great time at the range tonight!  Didn’t get to shoot much, but had a great time letting some friends catch up with my NRA pistol qualification run (story to come).

AND I was challenged to split another business card in half…by the awesome retired Marine Captain, Ed McCourt…and I did it!  This one took me about seven shots, but I got it done – and Ed set it up the long way for me this time (the easier way), not the short way as I had done previously :0)

Gotta give it to the Captain, cause he got it on the first shot!  This was my third attempt, though, and third card split, so maybe it’s not an accident anymore 🙂

And why do we do it?  Same reason we do most things in life that are fun – it’s a challenge.  It’s fun to push your limits and see what you can do – makes you realize you can usually do more than you think you can.  Happy shooting!

Numero dos

 

Numero uno

On becoming passionate about pistols through a circuitous route

Why, oh, why did it take so long for me to discover the absolute joys of shooting?  I mean, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and participate in many sports and hobbies throughout my many years on this planet, but none have held the fun and passion for me as shooting.  Truth be told, though, I had almost zero exposure to shooting until this point in my life, so the opportunity never really presented itself until I began to look for someone to teach my youngest son to shoot.

I never had a desire for my older children to be exposed to, or use guns, but by the time my youngest son was around the age of ten, I decided shooting might be a valuable skill to have for many reasons.  I didn’t grow up seeing my dad shoot guns, and my husband didn’t shoot at that time – even though he had gone on many pheasant hunts with his dad when he was younger and now shoots various firearms  – so we were just not able to pass those skills along to our children.

After we moved to the country a few years ago, I began to search for organizations that might teach my son to responsibly use a firearm and I came upon the county 4-H clubs.  The 4-H organization has a club or project for every kind of skill kids might want to learn, including some that specialize in the shooting disciplines – pistol, rifle, shotgun, and archery, so we signed up and began attending practice.

As I watched my son learn to use those firearms – and even got to shoot a few myself – I saw how much fun he was having and realized it was something I wanted to learn, as well.  For one thing, I felt as though it would be a bit embarrassing for my husband and me to hide behind a ten year old as he defended our home from possible invaders.  Way to go, mom and dad!  And I also realized if we were going to have guns in our home, I wanted to be comfortable enough to use them and not be frightened by them.

It was still several years, though, before my husband and I even considered buying a gun for our personal use, and get the training we needed to actually use it.   In fact, we went about the whole process completely backward – we went out and bought a handgun that we really had no idea how to use – and then sought out the training classes after the fact.  Bad idea.  For one thing, we didn’t even know if the gun we bought was one we would like to shoot, nor if it was a quality gun, or even what ammo to use in it.  Crazy!

What we should have done is what I, and others, recommend to shooting novices today – DON’T go out and buy a gun until you have tried several and know what you are getting.  Many men who shoot will buy their wives a handgun in the hope that their sweetie will shoot with them – and sometimes when the women try those guns, they absolutely hate them and never go back to the range.  And for some reason, many men buy their female companions a revolver, which is a great firearm for an experienced shooter to carry, but one of the worst for a woman to learn on, in my opinion.  Great intentions, but stop doing that, men :0)

I guess it’s pretty obvious that men and women are different in many ways, and learning to use and owning a handgun are definitely some of those ways.  For many women who have never used one, shooting a gun is a scary and intimidating thing to do.  Not only do the guns kick, they also are heavy and their power is really frightening to some women.  I have found women become much more comfortable with shooting by, number one, having other women teach them (it’s less intimidating); number two, starting with a less powerful gun; and number three, finding a gun that fits their hands and their needs.

For these reasons, a women’s basic handgun class is a great entry point for a woman interested in shooting, and a .22 pistol is a great beginning tool – even if only for a few rounds until they lose the initial uneasiness.  Once they realize the guns can actually be fun to shoot, and that they can shoot well with them, it is an easy transition to move on to higher caliber pistols, rifles, or even shotguns.

So we now own several firearms in various calibers, and not only are we all pretty proficient with them, we enjoy going to the range as a family and spending the day shooting holes in paper targets.  And a major benefit is that I now know that my baby is not the only one that could defend us from the bad guys – although he could if he had to – and I am much more comfortable having guns in my home, which was the initial impetus for moving me toward the range to begin with.

No Guns in My House – Well, Maybe…

Okay, I admit it, I was one of those young mothers who refused to allow anything resembling a gun to wind up in the toy box of her children for fear they would grow up to be serial killers.  And if you are one of those moms, don’t feel condemned, because I completely understand.  Not having grown up with guns in the house, I had a fear of them and didn’t even want my little boys to pretend to shoot people with them – until the day my twins ate their toast into the shape of guns and engaged in a three year-old highchair shootout.It was on that day I realized there really wasn’t much use in banning the toy weapons because they would use a stick, a rubber band, a toilet plunger, or even food (obviously) in order to carry out some innate need to down the bad guy and emerge victorious in some imaginary war of the worlds.

As time went on, I thought about my grandfather and how his gun rack was always full of guns, with the ammo easily at hand, but  how none of us grandchildren dared touch any of it.  It was right there in full view and reach, but it never entered our minds to breach that off-limits realm.  Of course, being afraid of granddaddy was probably a big part of that (he was really just a big softy, I later discovered), but I think more than that, it was just something we grew up knowing about.  And while it was off-limits, it wasn’t something we only saw in movies – the gun rack was just part of the furnishings, something normal, everyday, and expected in a country home – not a big deal, so we just didn’t think much about it.

But what if my granddaddy had taken each of us kids out and taught us to use those guns?  For one thing, I would have enjoyed many more years of shooting than I have by learning to use a gun later in life.  Of course, some of my cousins had dads who hunted, so they learned to use a gun at home.  My dad, however, moved to the city, entered academia, and any thoughts of a gun rack being part of the living room décor would have made my mom’s head spin around.

But I have to say that none of my cousins who shoot have ever killed themselves or anyone else – nor have their children or grandchildren, most of whom also now shoot – and I think one of the keys to that is familiarity.  When a child grows up with a healthy respect for, and a good knowledge of firearms, they are less likely to be curious enough to sneak a peek at something that could truly harm themselves or someone else in the process.

I realize some programs teach kids to stay away from a weapon should they accidentally (or purposefully) come upon one, and that is definitely good advice if they are unfamiliar with firearms and/or there is no adult present, but sometimes that only makes the forbidden object more enticing and exciting to get their hands on.

I am passing along Nerf gun skills to my two year-old grandson, Collin, who is also learning about ear protection and a little range protocol while he watches the big guns being shot.

What would happen if we went backward in time just a little and more kids were taught to use a gun properly, respect its abilities, and use it wisely?  There are organizations out there today who seek to maintain that heritage of passing our Second Amendment rights on to the next generation, such as the 4-H clubs, Scouts, and groups like the Appleseed Project.  These and other groups believe that shooting skills, and the right to engage in them, should not fall by the wayside as fewer people need to use guns to provide food for their tables, but that we should remember our Founding Fathers’ mandate that our citizenry should keep and bear arms.

Passing those skills and abilities to our children would then be as natural as teaching them to properly handle a vehicle.  If you have a child old enough to drive, you have most likely made the analogy to them that they are basically sitting on a fueled rocket, reeling at incredible speeds toward some other unsuspecting soul inside their own projectile – forgive me, I’ve had several new drivers, so these thoughts come naturally to me.

But the point is that we don’t hide the cars, or forbid them until the child is of age, and then take them out and present them as something to be feared and revered.  Children ride in cars every day – in fact, what parent (probably a dad) hasn’t sat the two year-old in their lap and let them “steer” around the parking lot?  Wasn’t dad afraid that little Johnny would then take the car out for a spin and slaughter untold numbers of innocent victims, all because he was “taught” how to use the car before he could understand the power of it?  Probably not.  Dad and Johnny were just having fun, but Johnny learned that the car was something he was not able to use without dad’s guidance and supervision, and as he grew, he became more knowledgeable and skilled at using the vehicle, until the day he was able to take the wheels out on his own.

So should we go out and buy an arsenal for the baby’s first birthday, just to expose her to the wonderful world of shooting?  No, baby blankets and cute little stuffed animals are still more appropriate for that.  But how about mom and dad learn to shoot first?  How about taking granddad’s rifle out of the attic and going to the range and asking someone to show you how it works?  How about signing up for an Appleseed event and taking the whole family to learn how important the rifle was to our American  heritage?  And how about exposing those kids to firearms in a responsible manner, one in which they will respect the gun and eventually, as they get older, learn to use it in a way that will be fun for them and safe for everyone?

If you have children, or even if you don’t, I encourage you to get in touch with one of the organizations that focus on teaching  children and adults to use firearms responsibly.  It might just be something the entire family enjoys doing together for many years to come.

Project Appleseed:  http://appleseedinfo.org/

4-H Shooting Sports: http://www.4-hshootingsports.org/