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 4 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!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why should I spend money on training beyond the basics?


Money is tight, why should I put my small discretionary income toward additional training after I’ve done the minimum to get my permit?  A lot of people are asking themselves that question.  Why do I need more training?

 
There is no one answer that fits everyone, but training is important.  Train with different instructors, take away the tips that work for you.  We all say it in different ways, maybe something will click.


Shooting is a perishable skill.  You need to keep practicing, but if you have only taken basic level instruction, it is possible that you are practicing by standing square to your target and slowly taking shot after shot, looking for the 10 ring.  But if you are carrying your firearm for personal defense, will your ability to slow fire at a stationary target help you?  Probably not a lot.

 
Advancing your skills includes learning to safely draw from a holster, reload without looking, scan your area for additional threats, possibly shoot fast, make the shoot/no-shoot decision quickly, shoot under stress, shoot around a barrier…If you already know how to do all that, still take training.  There are styles, techniques and tip evolving every day.  Sometimes the same information presented in a new way is what you really need.

 
Train as if your life depends on it…as it someday may.

 

Safe Shooting

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Unintended Consequences

Recently I published a guest post from my husband in response to some local "difficulties".  As I consider that matter closed, I will not readdress it, and ask others to respect that it is settled and over.  The guest post was removed not long after it was posted and it is no longer visible.
 
However, I learned from that.  There is an adage about never sending an email in anger, and the same can be said for blog posts.  I may not have written it, but it is my blog and I am ultimately responsible for it's content. 
 
I've learned in recent days that some people whom I care about and respect were hurt by words in the post.  I sincerely regret that, and humbly apologize to the innocent.  I hope you can forgive and we can all move forward.
 
I would also like to set the record straight on my personal opinion of Combat Focus Shooting (CFS) and Rob Pincus.  First, CFS.  I took Fundamentals of CFS in Nov of last year.  My reaction at the time remains true today, exhilarating, exhausting, challenging and a lot of fun.  I came away bruised, sore and so wound up I had trouble sleeping (in a good way).  I considered, for a brief moment, taking the Instructor Development (ID) for CFS, but that is not my area, or my intended market.  I leave that to those who have the heart for it, my heart lies in a different direction.
 
As for Rob Pincus.  Rob can be polarizing, but he can also be fair.  Would I like to take a CFS class from him?  Yes, and will if I get the opportunity in the future.  Rob stepped in to help resolve the situation I found myself in, and I'm grateful to him for bringing about an equitable resolution that was, IMHO, fair to both sides..
 
So, after all of that, why am I writing now?  Again, to offer heartfelt apologies to those who didn't deserve the fall out, and to accept responsibility.  I'm truly grateful to those who supported me, sincerely sorry to those who were hurt, and I will be vigilant going forward to at least sleep on anything controversial so that friends are not unjustly caught up where they don't deserve to be.
 
Thank you all for understanding, for caring and for letting this matter rest.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mastering the Art of the Grip - part II

This is an update of a post that originally ran in Feb 2012

This is a tough concept for a lot of people.  I once heard someone say “Maximum meat on the gun”.  Maybe not very eloquent but an excellent point.  Simply put you want to maximize the contact with the surface area of the grip. 
 
Talking to the Semi-Auto shooters here:  You start by wrapping your strong hand around the backstrap (the back of the grip) so that it fits snuggly into the webbing between your thumb and index finger.  The goal is to be as high as you can.  Stretch your index finger along the frame, and then curl your fingers around the front strap under the trigger guard.  Then take your weak hand and get as much of the heel of your hand on the grip panel as you can (again maximum contact with the pistol) stretching your thumb forward, (and parallel under your strong hand thumb) aligning with the strong hand thumb, and curl your fingers over your other hand fingers, under the trigger guard. Your knuckles on both hands should line up, and there shouldn’t be any air space between any of your fingers and the others.  How does it feel?  Can you support the weight of the gun comfortably?  Can you see daylight between the heels of your hands?  If you can, you need to bring the weak, or support hand in a little tighter.  Are you high on the backstrap without blocking the slide?  Some guns have a tang, beaver tail or protrusion that prevents you from being too high, like the 1911, but not all. 

When you take your shot, does the slide abrade your hand?  Does your grip come loose and you have to readjust?  Neither of these is desirable.  You don’t want to cut yourself, it HURTS!  You don’t want to readjust your grip constantly, it means you are breaking your grip, wasting precious seconds, and then still need to reacquire your site picture. 

Recently, my instructor told me I needed to be higher on the backstrap.  Looking at my grip, I probably would have said the same thing to a new student.  When I tried to inch up (fraction of an inch actually) I found the recoil was more painful, I was adjusting my grip every couple rounds, and I started anticipating the recoil.  How did I know?  My shots were centered and low.  I kept trying to find the sweet spot for me, and when I did I was once again drilling the dot.  However, it was a little lower than I would advise.  So…now what?  I had good control, good grouping, but my grip looked a little off.  Mmmm.  Ok, admittedly, we all have a sweet spot, but they should be pretty close.  What does this mean for me?  I needed to practice with a higher grip until I could control it and then have my instructor re-evaluate. 

What is the take away for you?  A couple things, 1., be aware of your grip, and make sure you work with someone who knows to ensure you have it correct.  This is important because it is a lot harder to break a bad habit than to form a good one.  2. If you are consistently shooting low center, you are anticipating the recoil or jerking the trigger, assuming you had the correct sight picture, and there are ways to overcome that, but it takes practice.  One way is to have someone else load your magazine and insert a dummy round. (ball and dummy technique). You won’t know when it is coming up and you will see yourself drive the barrel down.  That will help you realize that you are doing it and give you some feedback to break yourself.  Another way is to safely practice dry fire with an empty cartridge or coin on top of your front sight or your slide.  Does it fall off or stay put?  I'm not a huge fan of dry fire, it can build in habits since there is not recoil, and you must manually rack between trigger pulls.  But some swear by it.
 
If you have smaller hands, you may have a bigger challenge finding the perfect fit.  I had a student recently, who when we compared hand sizes, we were very close, except the index finger, mine was nearly an entire knuckle longer.  I can handle a Glock with ease, she couldn't reach the trigger and maintain a comfortable grip.  It is critical, when you are shopping for a gun, that you check the fit, You should be able to keep a proper grip AND reach everything you need to, i.e., trigger, mag release, safety if you have one...
 
For a while the only option for someone with smaller hands was a single stack, or a slim revolver.  However, manufacturers are starting to respond.  Some find that the Springfield HD fits better.  The Smith and Wesson M&P has 3 sizes of backstrap that comes with the gun.  Gen 4 Glocks have the ability to make the backstrap larger.  Just like shoes, one size does not fit all but your perfect fit it out there.


Safe Shooting!
 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review of the new Remora Micro-Clip Holster


Regular readers know that I LOVE Remora products.  Recently, I got to try the new micro-clip holster.  When I first received the holster I truly thought they had sent me the wrong one, and had them send me a replacement.  It was the same size.  Back and forth, and a couple conversations and…light bulb.
First, I’m using this holster for a Glock 19.  Glocks have a boxy trigger guard shape.  As you can see in the photo, initially, I couldn’t wedge a gun into the holster, and thought it was the holster. 

                                                                            
 
 
 
Then, I remembered that Remora forms fits very well when warmed.  I stuck the nozzle of my blow dryer into the holster for about 90 seconds and warmed it, then forced my Glock 19 blue gun deep into the holster.  If you don’t have a blue gun, you can wrap you unloaded firearm in cheesecloth of a thin cotton and use it to shape the holster.  Let the gun and holster sit for 24 hours.  When you take the gun out, the holster will have shaped to the gun.

 



The holster is ambidextrous.  You can snap the clip on to either side, and it can be worn IWB without a belt, almost anywhere.  With a traditional Remora you need to ensure there is tension to hold the holster in place.  With the micro-clip, the special Remora fabric still grips but the clip keeps it from falling.  When the slight pressure of clothing is released, the gun tends to rotate, but with good coverage of the trigger guard, it is still safe, and it won’t fall.  I’ve worn it strong side hip, appendix, and now, with an injured strong hand, I can wear it on my weak side. 

It is an easy draw, but not an easy re-holster.  So, not a great range holster, but it offers minimal print for maximum concealment. 

It probably won’t be my primary holster, but it will be great with skirts, and dress slacks, clothing that make a more traditional holster a challenge.  Over all, I like it. 

                                                                                                                                      

Thursday, July 25, 2013

When your Students are of the Fairer Sex…Does it Make a Difference?

In a word, maybe.  Experienced shooters are less impacted by gender differences in style and mannerisms than new students.  I apologize in advance for some generalizations, not everything applies to all women, but there are things to consider.  The following information is based on my experience as a student, as an instructor and interviews with other women.

Women come to shooting for a variety of reasons, but many come out of fear.  They may have had a threat, or be fearful because of the bad things happening around them.  The future of their shooting is in the hands of the instructor.  A caring, positive experience can help build confidence and trust.
Many women are less likely to ask questions in a class than their male classmates.  You need to watch them and anticipate their questions, make them feel that it is ok to ask.  Be careful with jargon or technical terminology unless you take the time to explain it.  They might not ask, but you will lose them.

Women are less tolerant of macho, alpha male style behavior and profanity.  Frankly, it can be a turn off, and once we turn off, your job as an instructor isn’t getting done.  So, dial back a little.  You can be professional without being intimidating, aggressive or profane.  Women, especially one who is there because she has been assaulted or threatened, may be more sensitive to being touched.  Ask first, unless it is a safety issue, minimize touching and ask.  You can get a sense of your student and know if it is ok.
Women often come into a class with fewer bad habits or preconceived ideas.  But, also with less experience.  Take the time to explain and demonstrate, build the foundation.  Many women are less confident and a little scared so they need to understand before they do.  Demos help, clear explanations are essential to build the fundamentals.  Generally, women retain instruction better when they understand the “why”.  Why do I do it this way instead of another way that may feel more comfortable?  Take the time to explain the concept, the method, steps and why.  This can be done with patience or even a little humor.  I take good natured teasing because I’m fanatical about cleaning my carry gun.  When people ask me often they should clean their gun, I tell them if depends on a variety of factors, but that while I might let some of my guns go without cleaning for a couple sessions, my carry gun gets cleaned every time it is shot.  I tell them “I’ve never heard of anyone having a malfunction because their gun was too clean”.

There are things that women need to know but a new shooter, especially one who plans to carry, may not realize she needs to know.  First, purse carry.  There is carrying in a purse and a carry purse.  Carrying in a purse is a bad idea.  Ask women how long it takes to find their keys?  Ok, that makes an image.  Now, point out that the gun is the heaviest thing in the purse.  Where will it be?  On the bottom.  Oriented how…who knows?  You reach in a pull it out and, gee, there is that pen you were looking for, sticking out of the barrel.  A carry purse has a dedicated compartment and holster for the gun, and NOTHING else goes in there.  This is “off-body” carry and still not ideal.  If your purse gets snatched, your gun is gone.  You can’t put it down, hang it off the back of a chair…it needs to be in your control at all times.  You need to be able to articulate this without being sarcastic, it may take practice to be able to talk about women’s accessories but this is important information.

Holsters…It is possible to carry on body and not advertise.  You also don’t have to carry a derringer, which I like to compare to trying to shoot a baby carrot, to conceal effectively.  For women, clothing makes a huge difference.  Prints hide better than solid colors.  Ruching, which is stretchy gathers, also works wonders to conceal a gun.  She can maintain a slim silhouette by wearing lose over snug to hide the gun.  Jeans can be a problem if they fit snugly, men’s jeans can fit the hips and leave a little extra room in the waist for the gun. 

Men and women alike need to find what fits them, what is comfortable and fits their lifestyle.  There are as many options as there are guns.  Some are better for men and some are better for women, and specifics will be explored at a later time.  It is important to remind a student that she, or he, needs to pick a primary carry method.  The last thing anyone wants is to do the body pat in an emergency.  Body pat referring to reaching for your gun only to realize it is someplace else and you start patting yourself trying to find your gun.  That said, there are times, especially for women, when your primary carry method isn’t practical due to attire.  She needs to know it is important to practice with whatever method(s) she chooses.  Also, suggest getting comfortable wearing her gun around the house for a couple days before carrying in public.  Once you can walk around the house without fidgeting and adjusting, you can go in public and most people will never know.

Range bags are another topic that women often have questions about.  Not all of us want to advertise that we are shooters.  It helps to know you can use almost anything as a range bag, from a back pack to a beach tote, and not advertise to your neighbors you are going to the range.  Sometimes a little discretion goes a long way.

It is important to have options and be able to demonstrate them.  Understand the lifestyle, a mom with kids needs to know how she can carry safely when her children are with her.  Discuss cover and concealment, as well as family practice drills for their safety.  Be prepared to discuss safe practices in parking lots, how to protect herself and her kids.  Generally, women don’t like to go there, playing the kids card, but it does get their attention. 

Women are less likely to spend money on advanced training than men.  You need to emphasize the importance of practice and training, not just because it is fun but because these are skills that deteriorate if they are not used. 

Women and men do learn and respond differently.  The differences blur with experience, but when you are working with a new shooter, it is important to recognize that there are differences in motivation, needs, and learning styles.  Make her feel accepted and comfortable, and you will have a student for a long time.  One last thought, and this comes from my experience.  When you tell a student to perform a task and they look at you for clarification, repeating the same instruction in a louder voice is very much like the American who travels overseas and speaks English louder, hoping to make themselves understood by a non-English speaker.  You need to have more than one way to explain something.  There is your first choice, but if she doesn’t understand, repeating the same words just frustrates your student and you.

More women are learning to shoot, for a variety of reasons, including curiosity, encouragement or pressure from their significant other, or yes, fear.  You can set the tone and help them to make a positive and safe entry into this world of shooting.

 

Thought for the Day

"There are two modes of establishing out reputation, to be praised by honest men, and to be abused by rogues.  It is best, however, to secure the former, because it will invariably be accompanied by the latter."

--Charles Caleb Colton

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Clearing the record

There has been a lot going on the last couple days.  Many of you saw the controversial guest post by my husband directly responding to some vicious attacks against me.  I have chosen to take the high road and remove the post.  Not because of the threats from an individual, I'm a strong woman and not easily deterred if I believe my path is just.  I removed it because someone very dear to me was hurt by the words in the post.  That she was upset hurt me more than the lies and aspersions on my character.  For her, the post was removed.

I sincerely hope that the others involved will follow this example, do the right thing and stop the attacks.

Thanks you, and Safe Shooting.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Moving Forward

Several are blaming me for the actions of many in recent days.  Seems I touched off a bit of a crap storm by posting on a public FB page about a local business and what I considered an inappropriate and unprofessional action.  I got a lot of support, from men and women, and I’m grateful.  It is unfortunate that some are spinning like tops to lay the blame at my feet while disavowing any responsibility or bad acts.  Unfortunate, but not surprising.  Responsibility for your actions seems to be a concept that some Gen Y’ers have difficulty with.

Thank you to those who looked at the facts and offered me words of support.

Shame on you to those who offered only condemnation and accusation without bothering to uncover what happened.

As for me, I am moving on, and not allowing this to be a distraction in my mission or business.  I will continue to pursue a just end to this situation, but I will keep it as low key as possible.  When it is resolved, I will let you know.  There are so many positives on the horizon that I can’t let myself get weighed down by people with negative agendas.

Now, bigger and better.  The second book is quickly coming to a close, I have a few more chapters to complete and then a re-read / edit and off to the publisher.  I am pursuing a concept for a third book, more on that when the details are in place. 

National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day received it’s first inquiry for a 2014 event and I predict an awesome year for us.  We have so many changes coming, new name, new logo, new website, new volunteer positions, and a whole month of activities! 

If you haven’t done so, pop over to www.GunShowsToday.com and check out the blog.  They have several guest bloggers, including me, and there is lots of interesting commentary to be found. 

I will be at Books a Million in Potomac Mills, Woodbridge VA, this Saturday from noon to 4:00 pm doing a signing.  I will be at the Shooting For Women Alliance National Conference in Tennessee in Oct, can’t wait!  It looks like a great time.  Visit http://shootingforwomenalliance.com/sfwcont.html for more information. 

I think we finally have the question with the new Remora Micro Clip holster figured out, I had the wrong size, which is why you haven’t seen a review yet.  I’ve talked to them and a new one is en-route.  Can’t wait to share my thoughts!

Safe Shooting!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Training for strength

I met a nice lady recently, she will be a student of mine soon.  She is a cancer survivor and still getting her strength back following her treatment.  I offered to work with her one on one over as many days as it took for her to complete a class at her level of strength and comfort. 

I've never endured the rigors of serious cancer treatment, my bout with C was relatively minor and caught very early, requiring surgery only.  I spoke with a friend of mine who is a cancer survivor and she explained to me the vulnerability she felt, physically weakened by chemo; thin, frail and bald...she felt like a walking target.  Hearing that really made me think.  I haven't walked in those shoes, but I've been on crutches, my ability to respond compromised.  I tried to imagine that feeling times 10, or more likely, 100.  It was frightening and offered me a partial insight into the challenges of recovering from a serious illness.

Instructors need to give these people the gift of patience, time and caring...working at their pace to help them not only learn to shoot, but to gain comfort, confidence and empowerment.

Those who are recovering, please don't be afraid to let us know that we may need to spread the training out over a longer period of time, let us work with you, help you, and show you the respect you have earned for you have survived your fight and now are facing a new fight, the fight to regain your confidence, your strength and your empowerment.

Be safe, be strong and be patient.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How do you handle a student with a disability?

It depends on the disability, I know. 

However, in this case, the gentleman is an amputee, missing most of his left leg.  He is right handed.  At first, he thought of a shotgun for home defense, but further discussion prompted a concern that if awoken in the night, it would be difficult for him to manage a shotgun and maintain his balance. 

Much discussion later, we came to a conclusion that a hand gun, in a quick access vault (there are kids at home) would be more manageable.  Then we had to look for the best options.  For a man who must balance on one leg, in the middle of the night, the conclusion was that shooting one handed, with the non-dominant hand, would allow him to balance on one leg, and use his other hand to help balance.

It was an interesting exercise in physics and balance and counterbalance.

As instructors we need to be prepared to think outside the box to help students find the solution that works for them.

Safe Shooting

Monday, July 15, 2013

Debate – 9mm vs 45 Caliber

I was taught that a 9mm is a better defensive firearm because the recoil management is easier, the ammo is less expensive (meaning you are more likely to practice) and the differences in wounding capacity were minimal.  

I was at an outdoor range recently, having just finished a class, several of us were “playing”. Side by side, me with a 9mm Glock 19, my friend with a full size .45, 10 rounds, from high compressed ready, on an “UP” command, who would go to slide lock first?  Ok, I do practice speed shooting and have very little muzzle flip with my 9mm.  However, my friend has upper arms like small trees, and has relatively little muzzle flip.  What do you think happened?

I won by about 2 shots.  I was back in HCR before he went to slide lock.  Even looking at accuracy, we were about even there.  So, reload 10, and switch guns.  I’d never shot his gun before.  Looking at the video (I see You Tube in the Future for this) I missed the “UP” by at least one shot, didn’t hear it.  However, I went to slide lock just as he was coming back into HCR.

So, what did I learn from that experiment?  Ok, maybe not scientifically valid, but FUN!  Practice seems to have made the biggest difference in the outcome.  I’m not close to being as strong, but have more time speed shooting into a high center chest area on a target.  So, my practice beat his superior strength.  He was really fast, as well, just not quite as fast.  He also didn’t notice a big difference between the 45 and the 9mm.  Remember the tree trunks?  This is a man who doesn’t see much muzzle flip until the Desert Eagle comes out, and no, I respectfully declined that chance to shoot that.  My hand was already bruised from the buckshot in the 12 gauge (told you we had fun).

Bottom line, IMHO, your best defense is the firearm you are willing to practice with, to get to know and are comfortable with.  With a caveat, I wouldn’t suggest anything smaller than a 9mm.  

Safe Shooting

Monday, July 8, 2013

What's up with me?


I try not to write too much about what is happening with me, mostly because I think you would be bored and much rather read tips, hints, reviews and the occasional political commentary. 

However, there is so much on the horizon that I want to share!

First, the reviews of the book have been awesome, Thank You So Much! 


I’m attending a Shooting For Women Alliance Conference in Oct, in Tennessee, and really looking forward to a great time!  http://www.shootingforwomenalliance.com/sfwcont.html
 

Shot Show is in Jan, back to Las Vegas!  Woo-Hoo!  I think I will plan better this time and maybe try to catch a show.
 

I’m planning to go to A Girl and a Gun Shooting League’s Conference in Texas in the spring, that should be amazing!!

 
I’ve been ramping up my new company, Female and Armed, offering training in the Northern Virginia area.  That has been an interesting challenge.  After working for someone else for so long, to find my own venues and schedule classes, set pricing…But, I’m learning, and it allows me to offer more female focused training.
 

Book two, yep, there is a second one in the works, is coming along great.  It should be out in Aug 2014.  It will address lots of different aspects of personal safety and security.  Topics from how to make you home more secure if you are a renter to travel tips, to traffic stops, to campus security.  All in one volume!  This will once again be from Skyhorse Publishing, who did such an awesome job on Taking Your First Shot, the vibrant colors and weight of the paper, readable font…They are great!

 
Looking for more political posts?  Pop over to http://www.gunshowstoday.com/gun-show-blog/, I’m a regular guest blogger, and the feature, The Gun Whisper, is usually pretty good answers to questions submitted by readers. 

 
Lots more on the way.


Be Safe and Thank You for the amazing support!!

 

 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

As we celebrate the birthday of our great country, take a moment to reflect on who we got here, the genius, and courage, of our founders.  Genius for creating a structure that has stood with little change for 237 years!  Courage for standing up to England, declaring independence and literally risking their lives to ensure freedom for us!

Also, say thank you to the men and women who have served, and sacrificed, to ensure that we keep our liberties.  Our Military families, our civil servants, even our elected officials.  Yes, them too.  For it is our right to disagree freely, not something enjoyed everywhere in the world.

Thank you to all who gave of themselves to get us to where we are and to all who work so hard to keep us to the path.

God Bless America!

Monday, July 1, 2013

When Should I Carry My Gun?

I actually get this question a lot.  When should I carry my gun?  My answer?  Anytime you legally can!  Do I mean that literally?  Yes!  Out and about?  Yes!  In my home?  Yes!   
Out and about probably makes a lot of sense to most people, if you aren’t sure, remember that your gun in not a rabbit’s foot and it offers ZERO protection in your safe at home while you are being mugged in a parking lot.  Have you ever heard “Danger comes when we least expect it”?  Well, we should be expecting it because it can appear anywhere and in many forms.  At the ATM, in a parking lot, driving down the road, in a store, in a restaurant…  
 
What about carrying at home?  See the news lately?  Armed home invasions and even unarmed but violent home invasions are reported with alarming frequency.  There was a recent case in NJ caught on a nanny cam, the images are not for the squeamish, but it illustrates how brutal an attack can be.  That the victim now only survived, but had relatively minor injuries is a miracle. 
 
The point is, you never know when something will happen.  If you did, you would arrange to be someplace else.  You can’t predict the future, but you can increase your odds of survival.   
 
What about when you are someplace you can not legally carry a firearm?  Do you have other defensive tools at your disposal?  Pepper Spray?  Knife?  Flashlight?  Kubaton?  Do you know how to use them?  If not, learn!  These implements don’t help you if you do not know how to use them.   
 
Have you taken any self-defense training?  Not martial arts, but self-defense, there is a difference.  Martial arts are elegant, disciplined and structured.  Self-defense is rough, fast, dirty…Bad guys don’t play by Queensberry Rules.   
 
After reading all of the above, what is your first and best defense?  Awareness!  The faster you recognize danger the more time you have to respond, or if possible, get away. 
 
Safe Shooting