I got the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant this weekend. It was a ladies only intro to firearms and self defense. Women in the Outdoors invited my friend to teach the class for their event on Saturday, and she needed an assistant. The class would be taught 3 times during the day.
We started the class with a little stunt my hubby suggested. Tammy started talking about how women always ask if they need a special purse in order to carry a gun and she always tells them that it is better to carry on your person. You don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving it unattended and it is quickly available should you need to use it. We all hope that we never have to use them, but it would be even worse not to have it available when needed. Tammy then relayed the usual sentiment about carrying only the smallest of handguns or changing the way you dress. At that point, she pulled a little AMT backup gun out of her waist band. As she continued to talk, she pulled out a Kahr 9mm. Then a snubby revolver. And finally a full sized M&P pistol.
By this point the class was wide eyed. Tammy pointed out that many women might assume that it was fairly simple for her to do that. She does wear jeans and t-shirt nearly every day. So then she gestured to me and said something to the effect of, ‘but what about someone that dresses more like Jennifer’? I was wearing jeans, a fitted shirt, a dress jacket, and my trademark high heels. I explained that I work in an accounting department and wore something similar to work everyday. At that point, I pulled out the blue gun tucked discretely into my waist band. And then my snubby revolver, followed by my compact M&P pistol, and then finally a WWII era K-frame .38 Special. I had played up the ultra feminine look too. I wore my hair down and curly and my nails long. I would have worn a skirt had it not been so cold.
Tammy explained that neither of us really goes about our day-to-day activities carring 4 firearms, but that we wanted to make the point that it is certainly possible to carry a competent firearm on your person without being lumpy. It just takes a good holster and the right placement. She opened the floor for questions and everyone wanted to see the holsters. Michael’s colorful creations were a big hit. We girls love our accessories.
We went over basic firearms safety beginning with the four rules and why each is important. Tammy explained how they translated into real world usage using some stories from some private lessons she has taught. We debunked some myths instilled in these women by well meaning fathers, brothers, and husbands. I think the ‘little gun for a little woman’ one has to be my favorite. We spent a lot of time on how a heavier gun helps to reduce felt recoil.
And then we got them on their feet. We showed them the basic Weaver and Isoceles stances and explained why proper stance was important. Women tend to want to arch their backs and lean back. We showed them how this compromises their control over the handgun. We talked about proper grip and lining up your sights. And then the class got to put their hands on real firearms. It was nice to have such small classes for this part. With no ammunition present, we had them in workable stances targeted in on an imagined target in a safe direction.
I served as the revolver person while she worked with the semi autos. We showed them how to get a good master grip on them and how the sight picture would look. The ladies really seemed to get a lot out of the hands on experience. Many women are afraid of semi autos because of the diffuculty in pulling the slide, only to find that the double action trigger pull on a revolver can be quite daunting as well. We showed them how to place their fingers on a trigger in such a way as to allow greated squeezing force and also taught them a trick that makes slide manipulation far more simple. No one should be intimidated by their own handgun.
We talked about our backgrounds in firearms. Tammy has really been around them most of her life and carried a gun for the last 20 years. I’m still quite the newbie. I explained how I shot my first gun on January 1st of last year and that I wouldn’t reccommend anyone start like I did. A .44 Magnum is just not a beginner’s gun. I told them about how even though it was abusive, it was a lot of fun and so I had to get my own handgun. And then I explained to them that in learning more about firearms, I really understood their value. As a 130lb, 5’4′ woman, I really wouldn’t stand much of a chance against a 200lb man that was intent on attacking me. I explained how I owe it to myself, my husband, and my son to equalize those ods in any way available to me.
Tammy covered same basics of the self defense mindset and how that doesn’t mean you have to be a ninja. She let them in on some secrets too. Like, when the elevator door opens and their is someone inside that trips your internal alarms, you don’t have to get on with them. It’s not rude. And even if it was, does random scary elevator guy really have any effect on your life? He might, but only if you got on.
The class was very casual and we made it clear from the beginning that the ladies were free and encouraged to interject with any questions they had. They were free to stop and ask for any additional clarification at any point. This made each of the 3 classes flow a little differently bcause each group wanted more attention in differect areas. An apartment dweller wanted to talk more about over penetration and safe direction inside her apartment. One group spent a lot of time with the specifics of how to use the bathroom with a gun strapped on your belt. (Hold the belt to give it some tension. You can even fasten it on the first hole to make it easier.) Hey, this is a major concern for us girls.
Another group focused a lot on stance and sight alignment. We even found that one girl had been trying to sight in with her non-dominant eye because no one had ever explained that she could do it differently. Slide manipulation was a hot topic. Many women thought they could have an accidental discharge by dropping the slide on a live round. (You can’t in a modern firearm with a hammer block.) We showed them how to load revolvers and semi autos, including how to use a speed loader and an UpLula (big hit with the women).
We had a really good time and the ladies got a lot out of the class. We weren’t very good at staying within the time constraints. We only had one mishap (dropped gun), but the whole day was really positive for everyone involved. Many are now interested in signing up for private lessons with Tammy and will likely contact Michael for holsters. I was approached for private lessons, but alas, I don’t have the proper credentials at this point. I enjoyed the experience enough that I may seek them out.
I am considering starting a new series on this blog called ‘Carrying while Female.’ I want to post pictures of how I dress on a regular basis and talk about any issues and concerns related to carrying. Let me know in the comments if you have any interest in such a thing.