Here at NRA Women, we’ll never stop emphasizing the importance of firearms training classes, especially if your primary interest in guns is self-defense. Whether you’re brand-new to guns or not, marksmanship and safe gun handling skills are absolutely critical to your success…and training courses designed just for women are like a force multiplier for those skills. It’s true that you can learn everything you need to know from a good instructor and a good class regardless of gender, but doing so together with your fellow women will make a big difference. Here’s why.
You’ll Ask More Questions
One of the toughest challenges gun instructors face is making sure that the quieter, more introverted members of their classes are getting enough attention. Ask any teacher; the students who ask the most questions and speak up in class most often tend to get the most out of those classes. The problem with mixed-sex classes is that men have a very real (it’s been measured!) tendency to talk more than women in settings like that.
Another problem with mixed-sex classes is that there’s a social and cultural expectation that men will know more about guns and how to handle them than women. That’s not exactly so, of course—but in those situations, it becomes even more difficult for us to speak up and ask the questions we need to ask.
Using the word “need” in this context isn’t an exaggeration. Even if you’re not brand-new to firearms, it’s common to be missing bits and pieces of critical information. You shouldn’t be hesitant to ask whether you need to keep both eyes open when you’re shooting pistols, for example, or whether it’s okay to leave your magazines loaded for extended periods of time.
The Answers Will be More Relevant to You
Questions are important to ask, but the answers are only useful to you if they’re relevant to you and your situation. Here’s an example.
Several years ago, when I was obtaining my CCW license, I had the good fortune to take my mandatory training class under the tutelage of a lawyer. As he explained how the legally justifiable use of lethal force works to the assembled class—which consisted of 12 men over 40 and myself as Lucky 13—he consistently used a particular example. His example was a hypothetical teenage male, unarmed, weighing 130 pounds who was behaving aggressively. The lawyer was attempting to walk the class through various scenarios with this young lightweight attacker, and when it would be advisable to try a bare-hands approach instead of going to one’s defensive gun. It all made perfect sense. Well, except for one thing:
“Excuse me,” I asked, “I weigh less than that, and I’m a woman with two-thirds the upper-body strength of a man the same size. Am I expected to fight him off with my hands?” (The answer was long and involved and boiled down to a “no, but…” Of course, the laws differ from state to state—be sure of your own!)
You’re Among Friends Here
Finally, when you take an all-women’s firearms instruction class, you’re learning with and from people who have walked in your shoes. Whatever your skill level when you walk in the door, whatever life event has made you want to walk through that door, and whatever you hope to take with you when you walk back out…someone in that class knows exactly what you’re going through. Are you having a hard time getting that slide to lock back so you can show unloaded on the range? Nobody thinks any less of you—we’ve all had to struggle with stiff springs. Did you just repeat something that you always thought was true about guns, only to find out that it’s not? That’s okay; there are just some things you won’t know until someone tells you.
You’ll find that the atmosphere in an all-women gun course is supportive, not competitive. Your success is everyone’s success, and you’ll be pleased and reassured as your fellow women cheer you on and lift you up. What’s more, you might just make a few shooting buddies to meet up with next time.
Women are an ever-growing part of the Second Amendment community, so more and more firearms instructors are creating classes just for us. Of course, your NRA offers the gold standard—it’s called Women on Target, it requires no experience or equipment of your own, it’s priced for even very tight budgets, and clinics are being held all over the country. Click here to find one near you!