Story and images by A Girl & A Gun
A caravan of white Ford Crown Vics sped around a racetrack, deploying evasive techniques, PIT maneuvers, and off-road recoveries. The drivers inside were not law enforcement, executive protection, or military operators. They were suburban moms and grandmas, who wanted to master defensive skills to keep themselves and their families safe.
A Girl & A Gun’s DRIFT (Dynamic Real-world Immersive Firearms Training) Academy took place on June 6-8, 2023, at the Virginia International Raceway. It was the first training course of its kind that addressed all aspects of vehicle defense for women.
“The average American spends approximately 5 percent of her life in her vehicle,” says Robyn Sandoval, executive director of A Girl & A Gun (AG & AG). “While cars provide opportunities and independence, they also expose women to a lot of transitional and vulnerable spaces: parking lots, parking garages, gas stations, and more. This experience taught our members how to identify, stop, and evade a threat.”
Training focused on providing the full spectrum of skills and options needed to manage transitional spaces. Situational awareness, verbal de-escalation, deploying various levels of force, and evasive driving techniques will ensure that women stay safe in their everyday lives.
A Girl & A Gun’s DRIFT (Dynamic Real-world Immersive Firearms Training) Academy took place on June 6-8, 2023 at the Virginia International Raceway. It was the first training course of its kind that addressed all aspects of vehicle defense for women.
“I am so honored to be a member of A Girl & A Gun, which provides opportunities to train for real-life events,” says Sue Brozovsky of Roanoke, Va. “Over our three days, I gained insight into my current abilities and have a direction as to where I need to gain specific skills. I came away from this event with an attitude of humility and awe regarding the material that AG & AG, Chuck Haggard, and RFH Tactical Mobility provided.”
Day 1 began with a discussion of situational awareness and how to prepare gear to approach transitional spaces. “Enough force soon enough can prevent you from needing more force later,” says Chuck Haggard, lead instructor of Agile Training. He taught the attendees how to manage unknown contacts, avoid confrontations, and deploy oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray), if necessary. POM Pepper Spray was a sponsor of the event, and provided inert training canisters, as well as live agent canisters for each participant to take home.
Day 2 comprised live-fire and dry-fire training on the shooting range. Haggard described areas of the vehicle that could be used for cover, in the event of the escalation of force, and how to deploy a firearm from various positions. The ladies learned the angles, ballistics, and tactics of live-fire shooting in, around, and through vehicles.
“DRIFT Academy prepared me to survive real-world events that I hope I never have to experience,” says Marjorie Golden, who lives on the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border.
On Day 3, attendees started the day with a vehicle lesson from Mike Evock, owner of RFH Tactical Mobility, before his cadre of instructors led the ladies through drills on escaping vehicle rollovers, skid maneuvers, high-speed driving, and more. Lead instructor Rick Henson facilitated training for the 20 attendees, who were teamed in seven different vehicles.
“Escaping a vehicle rollover, plus learning to drive from the passenger side in the event of a driver down were two things I never considered or thought I could do,” says Margaret Kearns of Northern Virginia. “I also liked learning how to control vehicle skids. These skills could save my life. Thank you, AG & AG!”
Walther and Mossberg each donated a pistol to the event’s prize table, along with certificates from Hunters HD Gold and XS Sights. The prize table also had a Glock mag pouch, Walther range bag, and other items. Winners were drawn randomly, which was the cherry on top of an already exceptional event.
“DRIFT Academy was an exhilarating experience!” exclaimed Sandra Woodruff of Austin, Texas. “In addition to being a lot of fun, we learned very practical skills.”
Donna Denison, who frequents I-95 between residences in Maryland and Florida says the knowledge she gained in a real-time, hands-on learning environment was incredible. “I could absolutely apply my newly acquired skills in my life if ever in a situation that called for them,” she said. “The opportunity to practice the driving was top notch. The facility and staff were both spectacular. I feel extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity to attend AG & AG’s DRIFT Academy, and would do it again, hands down.”
The next AG & AG DRIFT Academy will take place in Summer 2024. More information can be found at AGirlandAGun.org/drift.