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!


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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Mourning the Loss of NRA First Steps Program



First, this is not a bash the NRA piece.  I’m proud to be an Endowment level member, and before that was a life member for nearly 20 years.


The NRA First Steps was a great introduction to safety and the basics of shooting.  Hands on time with an instructor followed 3-4 hours of classroom instruction.  It was easy, not intimidating and covered a lot of material at a high level.  Students were encouraged to seek more advance training.  This was a “dip your toes in” kind of class.  When the NRA decided to abandon this popular option in favor of a blended learning Basic Pistol which, if taught as written, requires a student to complete an on –line portion, then find an instructor and complete class room and range sections.  The “as written” has the class and range alternating to accomplish skills that add on to one another.  If you don’t have your own range, it is kind of tough to do.


I have multiple instructor credentials, but rarely taught the more advanced classes.  My preference was the new shooter.  Mostly women, but not all.  Some nervous or scared.  My preferred venue was in their home.  Yes, I went to them.  My classes were limited to 4 people.  They all knew each other, were comfortable asking questions.  We made it like a Tupperware party, except with guns.  I gave away pens, keychains, gift certificates for an hour of range instruction, etc.  When the inevitable discussion of safe direction came up, we were in a home, we could talk real world.  For gun handling, I had a Kevlar vest I could hang over a chair if I needed to create a safe direction.  I gave significant discounts to military and law enforcement spouses, trained women in danger for free…the goal wasn’t to make money, although I did try hard to break even on materials and insurance.  My costs were lower since I didn’t have to rent a classroom, just cover range time and ammunition for those borrowing my firearms.


I loved it!  My students loved it.  Many used that class to get a Concealed Carry Permit, and then went on to get private coaching and or take more advanced classes.


That is no longer an option, and I, like many of my fellow instructors, have given up the teaching business.  It is sad, and I hate it.  But I’m not ready to take on the Basic Pistol model, which would mean classrooms, more instructors, new materials…or to teach the more advanced courses, for the same reason.  That isn’t where my passion lay. 


One sad aspect of this decision is that, in Virginia at least, students can take a 1.5 hour on-line course, and use that to get a permit.  No live instructor, no questions, and no practical application at a range.  I find that terrifying.  I’ve had students who didn’t get their certificate the first time out because they weren’t safe, and we spent more time together, at no cost to the student, to ensure they were at lease minimally competent. 

 
I am slowly dismantling my business, and it hurts.  I have lots of equipment; projector, holsters, blue guns, SIRTS, etc., that I need to do something with.  I also have quite a few First Steps packets left that when the NRA made the switch they offered a turn in of Basic Pistol packets but I never saw the same for the First Steps packets, so I still have a dozen or so. 


I will still write, still take friends to the range, but my formal instruction is done.  I don’t agree with the decision the NRA Training Department made, but they didn’t ask my opinion.  I’m sure they have a “good” reason, but I don’t know what it is, and I know a lot of instructors were impacted. But more than that, a lot of students are impacted.  People who would come to a 4 hour class to “try it out”, an entry level starting point.  Not all of these people will commit to a couple days, or the extra expense.  I think we are doing them a disservice.


Be safe!  No matter what your skill level, never stop practicing and never stop training.



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Living An Armed Life


Living an Armed Life will be available on Amazon and in select retailers on or about Sep 16.  This is my fourth book in five years, and yes, I’m taking a break.  For regular followers, you will see RPA, first introduced here last year.  You will also learn more about me and my ability to trip over shadows.  LAAL addresses the changing defensive techniques we need based on our life situation.  Injury, kids or aging.


I had a tremendous amount of help putting this together, and I’m very grateful to everyone who contributed advice, posed for photos or helped me figure it out when it was me on crutches, in a sling, using a cane…remember the tripping on shadows?


The book also introduces Laurie, an instructor in Virginia Beach, who was seriously injured several years ago and is now in a wheelchair.  Her humor, candor and dedication come through in her advice on shooting and defensive techniques while wheelchair bound. 



This book is full of advice I hope you will never have to use, but gosh, when you need it, it is nice not to have to figure it out on your own.  Special thanks to The Gun Diva for her kind Foreword.  She is a special friend and I’m honored that she contributed to my book.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Feel a Rant Coming On…


The Politically Correct crowd is run amuck.  There, I wrote it, in plain letters.  I’m so tired of being told I can’t do something because some group will get offended, or I have to learn to express myself differently because another group might be offended.  My thoughts?  GROW A SKIN!  Yes, there are extremes and vernacular that has, rightfully, crept out of our lexicon.  But it is being replaced with so much nonsense! 

 We are a binary people, genetically.  Male and Female.  There is not a 3rd gender.  Some people believe they are Transgendered.  Fine.  That doesn’t not make them a 3rd gender.  They are either Male or Female, be it by birth or by choice, I’m not making that argument, but I still don’t want to share a public restroom or dressing room with a man.  That is my choice.  I was in Target recently, and wanted to try on a blouse.  I generally avoid that as they have taken a very “progressive” stance, but I was distracted and wandered in to the dressing rooms.  All the stalls were labeled “Family”, which I guess is how they get around the gender question.  Well, be true to yourself, but don’t expect me to use made up pronouns.  If I use the wrong one, tell me, and I will do my best to fix it.

I live just outside of DC.  I was across the street from the Pentagon 15 years ago.  I can say “terror attack” with a straight face.  Does that mean I think Muslims are bad?  No!  I think terrorists are bad!  Not all terrorists are Muslim and not all Muslims are terrorists.  Do I want to see my country flooded with refugees?  No, I live in a high risk area (which happens to have some of the strictest gun laws).  And, with employment and economy issues, I don’t want to shoulder the burden of even more people that can’t find work, struggling to assimilate…I am 100% in favor of providing assistance without relocation.  And, since Syria is so much in the news these days, why should the U.S. accept thousands of refugees from the other side of the world when we are already overrun with refugees from Central and South America?  According to a lot of people, this makes me a bad person, someone without a moral compass…or not PC.
 
BLM.  To me, that is Blue Lives Matter, but not to everyone.  Personally, I think all lives are important.  Regardless of age, race, profession, religion, gender or birth status.  Frankly, there are examples of “wrongs” on all sides of that one. 

The 2nd Amendment.  Can you guess where I fall on that one?  I support national reciprocity for Concealed Carry Permits.  Each state has their own requirements for Driver’s Licenses, and issues them, but all the other states recognize them.  I don’t have to have one for Virginia, one for Maryland, and oh wait, DC won’t give me a license since I don’t live there.  Nope.  There is national reciprocity.  How many times have you seen the statistics about how many hundreds of thousands of permit holders weren’t involved in a crime or mass shooting? 
 
I’m not a bigot, I’m not a racist, not even a nationalist.  I’m a conservative gun owner who believes that everyone is important, but also that we need to get our country on track before we try to fix the world.

Thank you.  Rant over.  I now return you to your regular scheduled programming. 

 

 

The Impact of NRA Eliminating First Steps Training


I’m sure it was unforeseen, but in eliminating the First Steps program, which was an approximately 4 hour introduction to shooting, covering the fundamentals of safety, stance, handling and some time on the range, many instructors have given up teaching.  The First Steps has been superseded by Basic Pistol, which was available previously, but not as common.  It is offered in a Blended Learning format which requires a student to complete an on line portion, then work with an instructor to review the material and complete the range portion.  For many instructors the new format just wasn’t cost effective to continue teaching.  For me personally, I taught in small groups, one to four students, and I can’t afford to do that for Basic Pistol.  I do not have the statistics on participation rates but I hope it is working out.  

I’ve talked to many instructors who have simply given up their businesses.  It isn’t cheap, we have business licenses, insurance, overhead costs.  If you can’t afford to do that on a large scale, it can be tough to break even.  Some have switched to coaching one on one, but that is very time consuming and you have to do a lot of it to cover the cost of instructor insurance.

 I still encourage every new shooter to take a basic level course, and then more advanced training as the budget allows.  No matter what kind of shooting you are interested in, there is training available.  Nothing beats working with a live instructor who can see what you are doing and offer corrections. 

 

Whatever happened to National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day?


 

This was a good idea, had a robust start, but like so many endeavors, it required a lot of work by a lot of dedicated people to get up and going.  Also, like so many things, it took a lot less effort to take it apart.  Without going into the painful details, the organization crumbled. 

 

However, there are still a few clubs across the country who host annual events, some under a slightly different title, but the concept of safety, encouragement and promotion of the Shooting Sports is still strong.  That being said, there is no reason any range can’t support a family event or set aside a Daughter Day, do some type of promotion that may include extra instructor staff support, use of .22 caliber firearms, or even a reduced cost.  Some clubs have prizes and a cook out and certificates and advance registration. 

 

No matter how you do it, formal or informal, this is a great family activity and girls as well as boys love to make the first trip to the range in a supported way, and most have so much fun they can’t wait to go again.

 

So, consider encouraging your local range to promote a family day, or a daughter day, and get everyone out for some fun!