Not everyone sees a gun and thinks “plinking fun,” “shooting sports” or “freedom seeds.” It’s an unfortunate reality that some people have experienced very real trauma involving bad guys with guns. Whether that bad guy was a ruthless criminal or an improperly trained instructor exhibiting unsafe behavior, some people are left afraid of guns rather than ascribing the bad behavior to a specific person.
No one understands this unfortunate truth more than expert firearms instructors. One of the incredible volunteer instructors at the Women’s Wilderness Escape (WWE), Scott Sampson, shared a story with me about a free three-hour training class he donated to a fundraising event that turned into an eight-hour session where he helped a victim of gun-related trauma overcome her fear of firearms. Instructors willing to go the extra mile, shooting support groups and all-women classes can make all the difference for women who have been exposed to the wrong side of firearms.
While gun-related trauma can result in life-long anti-gun sentiments, with patience, training and the right resources, anyone can find comfort in responsible firearm ownership. The pistol portion of WWE was a much-anticipated activity for the all-women participants. Although it was not a defensive shooting course, any pistol class has an empowering effect on women taking their personal safety into their own hands.
We trooped out to a breathtaking spot on the NRA Whittington Center grounds for our outdoor class and range session. Many of us had handguns at home for self-defense and were eager to learn and practice. Our instructors started class with notes on the importance of eye dominance, concealed carry classes and consistent practice.
Our pistol coaches also went out of their way to make it a fun and challenging experience. We shot at printouts of cockroaches, trying to get four in a row. There was a contest to see who could get closest to the center of a firework picture, and the winner won a special prize.
We also had a steel target challenge, racing to knock down the most targets in the shortest amount of time. A returning participant and regular concealed-carrier, Nancy won first place, but brand-new shooter Sally won second! (It’s actually rather common for first-time shooters to excel on the range, because they don’t yet have any bad habits!)
In the midst of our plinking fun, one of my cabin-mates, Glow, said, “I can actually have fun this year, because last year I was scared to death.” She told me how she flinched at every shot the previous WWE, simply because she wasn’t used to the sudden pop, pop, pop of guns all around her. However, that’s why continuing to return to the range for consistent practice is so important. The more comfortable you become on the range, the more you can grow and improve your skills!
If you’re interested in target-practice at this beautiful range, head to NRAWC.com to get your shot. And keep checking back on NRAWomen.com for more installments of my shooting adventures at the Women’s Wilderness Escape!