The days of from The Beverly Hillbillies' Granny Clampett grabbing her shotgun by the kitchen stove and scaring off an unwanted intruder are long gone. However, anyone that follows the news can tell you that violent things happen every day. Now more than ever, women need to be prepared for real threats.
That’s where Kelly Ann Pidgeon, founder, owner and chief instructor for Armed and Feminine, LLC comes in: “It's your life. Protect it!” Pidgeon decided to share her passion for preparedness with other women when she created Armed and Feminine in Indiana, Pa., five years ago. Armed and Feminine provides firearms training for women, taught by women. According to her students, she not only teaches new shooters the basics, but empowers all women to protect themselves and their loved ones.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Pidgeon earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Pidgeon credits Indiana County Sheriff Robert Fyock for her interest in teaching defensive skills. She is a certified NRA Pistol Instructor, Refuse to Be a Victim instructor and certified Range Safety Officer. She also earned a Defensive Firearms Coach certificate from the ICE (Integrity, Consistency and Efficiency) Academy in Virginia Beach, Va.
As Pidgeon well knows, women now make up a significant percentage of the market in firearm and accessory purchases, and they need to know how to use these tools safely and well. During a pro-gun rally, Pidgeon told a packed auditorium, “For more than a century, women have fought for all kinds of rights, including the right to vote, the right for hiring and promoting equality … and now equal rights for self-defense. As I have told politicians, do not put a political agenda ahead of a woman’s life!”
Pidgeon uses her experience with firearms and unique training program to help women who might be afraid of guns gain the confidence to effectively respond to danger. An acquaintance, who is a military combat and federal law enforcement veteran, observes, “Gun usage can be intimidating; fortunately Kelly Pidgeon's approach to training is not. She founded Armed and Feminine, LLC in February 2015 and has trained more than 1000 women and youth with firearms and personal safety skills.”
Firearm instruction has evolved from the days when men protected women. “A gun can be a true equalizer in defending yourself from your attacker. Women want this true freedom from fear in knowing they can protect themselves,” says Pidgeon.
Former student Amy Shaffer (far right) praises her experience learning from Pidgeon. “She sure makes it interesting by focusing on real technique and safety with a serious but relaxed style," said Shaffer. "She taught us how to use a gun for our own and others’ safety, with lectures, discussions, videos, experienced guest instructors, then a lot of actual time on our firing range.”
Armed and Feminine has a roster of classes for all skill levels. As Pidgeon explains, “The beginner pistol course is for all brand new and inexperienced shooters. They learn the fundamentals of gun safety and handling with simulated equipment in the classroom before heading to the range. All supplies will be provided for the 10 students in the Beginner Pistol class including firearms, ammunition, eye and ear protection, and targets. They'll learn about how to choose the right firearm for them in this class, so it's better to wait. If the student does own a firearm and wants to use it, she may bring it. However it must stay locked in her vehicle until the class moves to the range. I believe strongly in safety rules for everyone.”
Classroom sessions for 10 women are followed by field training with one qualified instructor per two students. Instructors help them chose a .22-cal. pistol by matching hand size and comfort. After the initial nerves subside, and the student excels with the .22-cal, they have the option to try .380, 9 mm, .38 and .45-cal. handguns. “We also teach them disassembly, thorough cleaning and reassembly of their training firearms. Proper maintenance of firearms is also of prime importance,” Pidgeon adds. After each student completes the training successfully, they receive a certificate of attendance and achievement.
Kelly Pidgeon at a Second Amendment rally.
Pidgeon also started a local chapter of The Well Armed Woman (TWAW), a national association whose goal is to educate, equip and empower female gun owners. Many of her students join her TWAW group after completing their classes. Her students have ranged in age from 11 to 83; you're never too old to learn to defend yourself!
With a recent grant from the NRA Foundation, Pidgeon’s host range was able to extensively upgrade their facilities. There is now a designated training portion of the range, and she is able to instruct entire organizations on personal safet
Armed and Feminine also includes a selection of advanced courses for more experienced shooters and graduates of basic firearms training. These include her self-defense classes and other NRA programs. For example, “Refuse To Be A Victim” is the NRA's award-winning personal safety and crime prevention program. There is also an “Introduction to the AR-15” class featuring training in the basic components of this popular sporting rifle and practicing shooting skills both individually and in teams.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced shooter, Armed and Feminine has resources for you—Granny Clampett approved! Full descriptions of Kelly Pidgeon’s classes are available at ArmedandFeminine.com. Additionally, Pidgeon has produced a variety of educational videos on YouTube that feature topics ranging from selecting and buying a gun to building your own medical kit.