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!

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!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Gun Free Zones

Gun Free Zones. Words that chill my heart, because we all know, in a Gun Free Zone, only
honest law abiding citizens don’t have guns. However, not having a firearm doesn’t make up
defenseless. I once told someone that in trained hands a knitting needle was an “Assault
Weapon”. Think about it, long, strong, pointy…but no, I’m not advocating that you carry knitting
needles everywhere you go. What I am suggesting is that you think about what you do have, or
could easily add, and practice how to use them.

Because if where I work I cannot carry my firearm to and from work. Hanging on the front of my
purse is an assortment of charms, they are fun, and express my personality. They also give me
an inconspicuous place to hang my SABRE Personal Alarm. These little noise makers couldn’t
be easier. Grab, yank and throw. Yep, grabbing then yanking disengages the pin which sets off
a loud noise. Throwing it makes it harder for an attacker to silence since they would have to
find it. To shut it off, simply reinsert the pin. Works on purses, backpacks, lanyards…don’t
have to worry about age and legal issues.


Inside my purse, in designated pockets, I have a quick open folding knife with a window break
on the end and a tactical flashlight. Both handy if you ever need them. On my keychain I have
pepper spray. I also have some basic empty hand skills learned from a variety of personal
trainers (I have a few limitations so I take private training whenever I can to work around them
and avoid slowing down a class or getting injured by a hyper millennial).

Recently, with all the nastiness in the world, I started thinking more about being out and
about…the mall, a theater, etc. Violence is everywhere and living in a concealed carry state we
are more likely to be attacked in a “gun free” zone. What to do. I did some research, watched a
great “The Best Defense” video and decided to look for a ballistic pad to fit in a backpack. Well,
turns out there are a lot of them out there. Some already incorporated into the backpack. I
opted for a level IIIA soft pad that slips into the laptop straps on most of my backpacks (the
tactical looking and the cute ones). It is 16”x12”, and weighs about 2 pounds, which is pretty
light. I found it on Amazon, and after reading all the reviews made my pick. Several people had
bought two, one to shoot up and one to use. Based on those reviews I opted to buy one and
save my pennies. But, from now on if you see me at the mall I will likely have a backpack
nonchalantly thrown over my shoulder (Sorry Michael Kors) instead of a purse. My charms will
be clipped to the pack, and my knife and light will be within easy access, but I will have an area
of cover, within my grasp should something happen. I hope I never need it, but it will be nice
knowing that I have a little extra protection.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The world around me is changing…


I can’t turn on the news without a report of violence, mass shootings, corrupt politicians and
more calls to strip me of my 2A rights. Last night 5 Police Officers lost their lives in Dallas,
responding to sniper fire and trying to protect the protestors who were protesting Police
shootings (note the irony here). POTUS and the left immediately responded with the cry for
“gun control”.

I recently watched the movie 13 Hours, the story of Benghazi and the heroes who risked
everything to save American lives. This was my second time watching this film. It isn’t an easy
film. I was a bystander to 9-11- 2001, being directly across the street from the Pentagon. I
watched the live coverage of the second plane flying into the WTC. I heard the third plane and
felt the blast even before the sound of the explosion as the plane entered the Pentagon. Those
are hours, minutes and seconds, that still haunt my memory and my nightmares. Watching 13
Hours I started thinking about what is happening here. I realized that we are on a steep slope
and picking up speed to becoming just as dangerous as many places in the middle east. Taking
my gun won’t make me, or you, any safer. It makes both of us nothing better than a staked goat
waiting for a predator.

Police Officers are second guessed at every turn. Terrorists, both home grown and infiltrating,
are attacking our way of life and killing without discrimination or warning. We are at war, and it
is the worst kind of war because there are no uniforms to help discriminate one side from
another. Angry protests erupt every time a black person is shot by a police officer. Where are
the protestors when a cop is shot, or a white person is killed by a Police Officer? I subscribe to
a simple rule:

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SHOT BY A COP, DON’T BREAK THE LAW!

If we don’t put the brakes on fast we could easily be overrun by thugs and criminals who have
no regard for life or property and the Police won’t be able to stop them. Stop pandering to the
loudest and teach personal responsibility.

I am proud to support the Law Enforcement agencies of our Nation. I may not always agree
with those at the top (i.e., Director Comey), but I support the boots on the ground. The men and
women who risk their lives for ours every day. I support our Military, even when our government
looks at them with disdain. I wore a uniform for 20 years. I know the sacrifices, the long hours,
the feeling of homesickness when on the other side of the world. I even support Government
employees, who are some of the most maligned workers in the country and the first to suffer
pay freezes, furloughs and job loss at the hands of a bloated Congress.
I love my country, and I want it back…from the thugs, the terrorists and the corrupt politicians.
Do what you can…
Thank a Law Enforcement Officer.
Thank a Military Member.
Display the Flag.
VOTE!

#Blue Lives Matter
#All Lives Matter
#USA
#Dallas
#911

Thursday, June 30, 2016

It's a Mans Word


Well, not really, just some of them think that way.  I’ve been reading stories lately from women instructors who are belittled by men.  There are not a lot of them that do it, but they are getting more attention as out numbers grown.


I call these men “Range Randies”.  I also have another, less polite term for them, you can probably figure that out.

 
I’ve had my share, having shot for more than 15 years, and taught for nearly 8.  Sometimes it is an instructor, sometimes it is a gun store clerk and sometimes it is a RR on the range.  I walked off the range one time and got stopped by a man who asked what I was shooting.  Ok, didn’t think much about it.  GLOCK 19.  He proceeded to inform me that I had too much “muzzle flip”, yep, “flip” not climb for a 19 and clearly I wasn’t shooting it right.  A lot of responses ran through my head; the excruciating case of tendonitis, aka shooter’s elbow, that almost stopped me from going to the range, my credentials, the single hole, albeit jagged as befits multiple rounds through almost the same space, in the center of my target and the fact that he appeared to be shooting buckshot, or the fact that his “big ole pistol” might be over compensation.  Instead, I smiled and walked away.


I was taking an instructor course, was on the range and this RR yelled some instruction.  I was on the line, gun up…I turned my face toward him and said “What?”  He repeated the same words, louder.  I gave him a blank look and he repeated himself, even louder.  I lowered my muzzle, looked him straight in the eye and said “until you put it in different words, you can get as loud as you want, I don’t understand what you are asking for”.  He then told me to rack the slide.  I nearly punch him. Did I leave out the escalating set of instructions was roughly 3 sentences long about sliding my support hand up, blah, blah, blah?  At that point, I had multiple instructor credentials already, so I knew who to rack a slide.  He thought he was funny.  Had it been up to him, I might not have passed that class but fortunately he was one of 5 votes. 

Hang in there!!

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.