About Me

I hold multiple NRA Instructor credentials, as well as SabreRed Pepper Spray. I have my own training company in Northern Virginia, www.FemaleandArmed.com and am focusing primarily on teaching women, especially those who are new to shooting.

I am also the author of 3 books, available on Amazon, and at many major outlets. I am a contributing writer for Combat Handgun Magazine and Women and Guns Magazine.

Thank you for following along with me as this journey continues.

Safe Shooting!


my books

my books
Thoughts, comments and insights for women who shoot and the men who love us!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The world is changing...


The world is changing so fast!  Now, more than ever, you need to be aware, and prepared.  If you carry a gun, when is the last time you went to the range to practice?  When is the last time you practice your draw stroke with an unloaded gun?  When is the last time you did a defensive drill with the family?
 

Do you have your peripherals?  Flashlight, knife, pepper spray?  How is your Situational Awareness?  Have you practiced active threat assessment to help focus your attention?  Are you mentally running what if scenarios in your head?  Have you done any personal defense training?  Hey, even we aging baby boomers can kick butt if we know how!  If you aren’t a member of the American Warrior Society, consider joining.  There are some awesome training tips and videos by Mike Seeklander that are well worth the cost of joining. http://www.americanwarriorsociety.com

 
What about Active Shooter training.  We all pray it will never happen to us but it is becoming more common, in more environments, and odds are it will get worse before it gets better.  The Department of Homeland Security had Active Shooter training on its website, free.  It is actually pretty good.  https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness  If nothing else, it will give you something to consider. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

From There to Here


As an instructor I frequently get asked how I got started shooting.  I grew up in a house with
guns, rifles and pistols, although I didn’t get to shoot them.  Not sure my Dad did either but he
had them, all the kids knew where they were (on the shelf in the den closet) and not to touch
them, which we didn’t.  I didn’t have strong feelings one way or the other. 

At the age of 17 I enlisted in the Air Force.  This was a long time ago, and women didn’t shoot in
Basic Training then, instead we had a “grooming” class.  Yes, go ahead and snort, but it was the
70’s.  I didn’t actually shoot until 1983 as I was about to go to South Korea.  I did a couple hours
of training on an M-16, went to the range, shot .22lr via an adapter, which didn’t work
particularly well, and that was it.  It would be years before I would shoot again. 
In the mid-90’s (years, not age) I was dating a man who had a real issue with truth.  As I began
to realize this, I knew I needed to break it off.  I did, and the response was pretty intense.  He
left a long message on my answering machine that included a lot of profanity and ended with “I
hope you’ve enjoyed your life.”  Well, I took that as a threat.  Contacted the police, played the
tape and filed a complaint.  He was called and asked to turn himself in so he could be
processed and released.  Yep, they took it real serious.  Me, I bought my first gun, a Ruger P-95
9mm.  I didn’t have a clue, but got lucky in that the man behind the counter did and gave me
excellent advice.  Not always the case, btw.  I had to wait 3 days to pick it up, that was the law
at the time, and then immediately took it to the range and shot a few hundred rounds.  Not me
recommendation for anyone!  Now I know, read the manual, clean it, and if you don’t
already know how to shoot, your first trip should be with an instructor.   But I was scared,
and determined, and I made some pretty big holes in the targets, and in my thumb (metal
magazines, no speed loader).  I took a quick NRA course and applied for a Concealed Carry
Permit.  Thanks to the pending charges and a supportive judge, I got it in record time and began
to carry. 

Over the years, I gradually stopped carrying, but kept my permit current, just in case.  (Also not
smart but I still had a lot to learn).  Things started to get interesting in the community, more
violence.  I still went to the range occasionally because it was fun, but something told me I could
do better.  I went instructor shopping.  I talked to a couple and then found the right one for me. 
When you find him or her, you will know.  We hit it off, and went to the range to “assess my
skills”.  Well, he turned out to be a training counselor and talked me into taking an instructor
course.  I worked for him (he has a robust training company and is an outstanding trainer) for a
couple years until it was time to move on and go independent. 

I found a passion for teaching, a joy in helping someone learn new, or enhance existing, skills. 
There is nothing like it.  I don’t teach as much now, maybe going independent wasn’t the
smartest move.  But I also spend a lot of time writing. 

So, in a nutshell, that is my journey, how I got here.  If not for a threat of domestic violence, I
might not have come to this point.  What happened with that?  He made a deal, plead guilty to
making an obscene phone call, and got community service and a stern warning to stay away
from me.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Why Gun Training Parties?



My whole business model is based on doing the majority of my training in people’s homes with 2 to 5 students.  Kind of like a Tupperware Party only with guns.  Not claiming it is an original idea, or that I’m the only one doing it.  This is about how I got to this and why.

When I left the company I had been training for to become my own boss I had a few bumps with startup money for classroom rental and equipment.  After a lot of soul searching that included why do I teach, what is in it for me (hey, it is a business) and what were my goals I realized that money took a backseat to education.  I wanted my students to be comfortable, to learn and to be able to use what they learned.  So, the days of teaching a room of 20 people were over.  That wasn’t what I wanted.  I implemented my model of Home Training Parties. 

I will go to someone’s home, set up, teach the classroom portion, answer questions, sometimes walking through the house with them to help them understand the concepts of safe room, safe direction, possible entry and escape points, whatever they need.  Often it will be a host and a few of their friends or family. 

The up side for students?  A more relaxed environment, familiarity, able to see the home defense issues more clearly than in a classroom, comfort with the other students, and shooting buddies who are on the same, or nearly so, level who are hearing the same information.  Also, since I’m not paying for a room I charge a little less than I would if I was renting space, and I tend to offer discounts for the host/hostess, as well as military and LEO spouses.  The response has been amazing and if I wanted to I could be teaching every weekend. (I can’t because of other commitments, such as my next book is due the end of this month! YIKES!!)

What is the downside for the instructor?  I’ve talked with instructors who have this question as they contemplate a similar model.  First, smaller classes means less income.  But, hey, most of us aren’t doing this to get rich, we are happy when we can cover costs and have a little left over for ammo and new guns.  Second, you don’t see where you will be teaching until you walk in the door.  You need to be able to adapt fast.  No safe direction where we will be doing unloaded firearm handling?  I carry at least one with me.  I have a Kevlar Clipboard (which really works, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wQJ_J1zA7Q), I also have a soft level 2 vest that hangs quite nicely over the back of a dining chair.  I usually bring a piece of white poster board that I’ve been known to hang with Blue Painters Tape as a “screen”.  I have a music stand that doubles as a podium for my computer remote and training materials.  Yes, it is a lot to schlep but you get used to it and wheels are great!  It can be a little un-nerving going into a strangers home and spend most of the day.  But, I’ve talked with the hostess beforehand, gotten a level of comfort, and as long as people aren’t chain smoking I’m usually ok.

I may run a class in a more traditional environment from time to time, but probably only more advanced classes.  I like the intimacy of only a few people, especially with beginners.  They seem more comfortable and I get the joy of spending a little more time with each of them to be sure they are learning safely.

Is this a good model for everyone?  No.  Can it be rewarding and fun?  Absolutely!  If you are an instructor and want to talk more, reach out to me, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Looking Back at Shot Show 2016


In a word…FABULOUS!  This year was different for me because I had company.  The newest member of the Female and Armed team, and my sweetie, Jim Bogle, accompanied me to his first Shot Show.  I think it helped him to have someone show him around a bit, and was a delight for me to see it through the eyes of someone who’d never been.  I think he is still sorting through the swag… so am I, LOL!

 
 
 
We were walking through the Las Vegas airport to pick up luggage and I spotted a familiar back.  She is tall, slender and with the hat and boots, who else could it be?  None other than the indomitable Becky Lou Lacock!  We shared a cab to the hotels and had lots of time to catch up! 

 

We settled into our hotel and enjoyed a very nice dinner followed by significant snoring.  3 hour time change, major climate change, plus 5 hours on a plane.  I admit it, he snores.  Ok, sometimes, I do, too.


Up early to catch a ride to Industry Day with Gun Diva and the Gun Dudes.  Love them!  Great Friends, wish they were closer so we could get together more often. 
 
Industry Day is a by invitation only event that allows people who are media affiliated to meet a wide variety of vendors, handle the firearms under very watchful eyes (not everyone there is a shooter so the vendors watch closely until they are sure you are safe) and yes, SHOOT!!!  Some of them on Full Auto!  Gun Diva calls it “the giggle switch”.  I have had the privilege several years in a row now, and it never gets old.  TOO FUN!! 
 

One of the things I noticed was a lot more service animals attending with their owners.  They were outfitted with little doggie ear muffs and their service animal wraps.  That was nice to see.  Also, there was a tactical response vehicle on display with two working dogs.  One was a pup, still in training, sitting erect, alert and watchful on a table near the vehicle, outfitted in a vest.  We asked the handler for permission to approach and pet him, and once we, and he, knew it was ok, the kisses were not far behind.  I got a serious face full of puppy kisses and couldn’t stop laughing, it was one of the highlights of my day.
 

If you are a regular reader you know I am partial to GLOCK pistols and Mossberg long guns.  That hasn’t changed.  I did get to try the Springfield XDM Mod 2 in 9mm.  It is now on my short list for next gun.  I like the way it feels, like the way it shoots, and I would like to have it to give my beginner students who do not like the boxier feel of the GLOCK an option.  The other serious gun that was an eye opener for me was Savage Arms in 308.  The target was at 833 yds, if you are numerically challenged, like me, that is about ½ mile.  It was a steel plate, too small to see without a scope.  There was a spotter, and he offered a few corrections to help me judge the windy conditions.  On the 3rd shot I hit is squarely.  That was it, I was done.  I shoot handguns at 20 feet and rifles at 50 feet.  ½ mile?  I was jumping up and down, inside.  On the outside, I had a grin that told the whole story. 


SOG had their knife throwing booth, and an expert to offer tips.  Every year I get a little better, but this year I moved up to tomahawks.  What fun!!  I need to build a target board for my back yard.  They also had the smartest giveaways.  Little packets of band-aids with SOG was here on them.  They came in handy but for another reason.

KRISS was there with the Vector in Full Auto.  weeeeeeeeeeee!  CMG had an AR with Full Auto, I had a little trouble with jamming (but it had gotten some heavy use by the time I got to it so I don’t blame the gun).  To make it up to me, they gave me a fresh Magazine, told me to set it to full auto and let it go.  The rep put his hand on my shoulder just in case, to help manage climb, and I dumped it in one burst.  Ok, that was a WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!  When I laid the gun down and turned around I saw a line of men with very envious looks that read “Next?”  That is also why the band-aids came in handy.  Not being a regular AR shooter, during a malfunction my hand slipped forward on the upper and my finger connected with the barrel.  Instant blister.  Now, two + weeks later, still have a mark.  But, I don’t care.  It was worth it!!

 Shooting, ammo, accessories, knives, give aways…It was truly a great day!

The Shot Show officially starts on Tuesday.  3 levels in the SANDS Expo Center, most people average 7 miles a days of walking the exhibits.  Celebrities generally are left alone, unless they are gun celebrities.  Gunny had an autograph line that was probably an hour or more.  Pro shooters gave demos and talks.  My favorite was Julie Golob who I always find delightful.  She is as approachable and genuine in person as she appears on her webcasts.  She is who she is, warm, friendly and sincere.  Plus, she is well spoken and happy to share tips and encouragement. 
 

 Getting to meet vendor representatives and gain new insights into their products is a real treat.  Networking with major manufacturers can bring discounts, always a good thing. 

The number of Booth Bunnies has been declining steadily over the years I’ve been attending as more and more women participate.  I did wonder where the Booth Beef was for us, but realized that most of the booths are staffed by men, many of whom could qualify. 

There wasn’t a lot of truly new and innovative products, but there were upgrades, or in a few cases, downgrades.  The upgrades, or updates, offered enhancements, such as the grip modifications to the Springfield XDM Mod 2.  Some companies are trying to tap the women’s concealed carry market.  Can Can Concealment does this beautifully with their sport belt, which I use and love.  (Got to meet Darlene at the Show, she was in the first time exhibitor area, new this year, as nice in person as on the phone)  
 
Another company is offering their interpretation, and I watched their demo.  Clearly, it was given by a woman who is not a shooter as she referred to the grip as the handle, kept her finger on the trigger of the blue gun, muzzled the crowd and her own hand while attempting to show you could re-holster with their product.  P T Barnum is often cited as the source of “There is a sucker born every minute”, which in fact is attributed to David Hannum, but the line applies to some of these products.  A holster provides a couple key functions, it safely and securely retains your firearm, it allows you to safely access and draw that firearm on demand without hindering the draw stroke.  Everything else is preference.  If it can’t do that, you probably shouldn’t call it a holster.

I’ve been contemplating starting to compete.  So I spent quite a bit of time with Safari Land.  Found a paddle holster with a thumb break that I loved and felt comfortable with.  When I’m ready, that will be where I turn for a competition holster.

This year Women’s Outdoor News co-sponsored a meet and greet open to women attendees.  I saw lots of familiar faces, got to put faces with people I’ve corresponded with, and met many new industry women.  What fun!  I know I’m a tiny fish, but I’ve had a lot of opportunity, and when I realized how many of these amazing women it was my privilege to know and interact with on a personal level, I realized how lucky I’ve been.
Natalie Foster
 
Julianna Crowder
 

Gabby Franco
 
Kathy Jackson
 

 

Shot Show, sponsored by NSSF, is an industry convention, and members of the general public really don’t attend, but if you ever have the chance…GO!

Lastly, NSSF has launched Project Child Safe.  This is a positive informed effort to promote safety and is worth a look.  Please visit http://www.projectchildsafe.org/ for more information and consider supporting this effort.

Friday, October 23, 2015

How much training is enough?


I just finished reading a magazine article that posed that question.  The author didn’t really give an answer, not a definitive one, but it got me thinking.  That may have been the real intent of the article.

I have trained, taken various classes, both in shooting and personal defense tactics, have instructor credentials…do I still need training?  YES!  If for nothing else that to learn someone else’s perspective!  I know quite a bit, but I do not know everything.  Every class I’ve taken I come away with something.  Every time I teach I also learn something. 

It is a little like the classic question; “How many guns do I need?  One more than I have.”  How much training do I need?  I’ll let you know after my next class.