Americans own guns for many reasons: hunting, recreational and competitive shooting, collecting, self-defense and personal protection, among others. But the most complete and thorough answer is, “Because we can!” We all deserve a “seat at the table” when it comes to gun ownership and gun rights.
Historically, men have dominated the market when it comes to firearm ownership, training and even writing about guns. Thus it would stand to reason that men have traditionally occupied the most number of seats at the table. Generally speaking, this is because men have owned more firearms, taken more training, and go to the range more often than women. But wait, do not give up hope! The Second Amendment, written by our framers to guarantee Americans' ability to protect themselves from tyranny, and from those who seek to do them harm, is for everyone.
Rest assured, the “table” is getting larger—much larger! As we continually report on this site, women make up the fastest growing demographic of gun owners. But because you deserve a seat at the table, does not necessarily mean you are going to get one! It takes more than pulling out the proverbial chair and just sitting down. As with all subject-matter expertise, it takes work to become proficient in any topic. It takes research, dedication, training and practice. Firearms are no different. Unfortunately, we live in a world today where people equate watching YouTube videos with becoming proficient or an “expert” in any topic. There is no shortcut to excelling in any given activity. You have to put in your time.
Researching firearms is the most difficult, and perhaps the most tedious aspect of becoming informed about guns. If you are going to “run with the big dogs,” you need to take the time to learn all you can about guns. First, this allows you to carry on a conversation with other gun enthusiasts. Next, by doing your research and gaining knowledge, this allows you to effectively teach a new shooter. This, in turn, leads to credibility. An individual who is well-versed in firearms will know almost immediately if you know what you are talking about or if you are trying to bluff your way through. A student will lose confidence in his or her instructor if they feel their instructor is not as knowledgeable as they claim they are.
Research is a very important part of being a firearms instructor. According to the NRA Basic Instructor Training (BIT) curriculum, the average student retains only 65 percent of what they are taught. That means if you are teaching wrong or inaccurate information, this might be part of the 65 percent your student retains. Since our students only retain a certain percentage of information, it is important that the data they remember is correct.
As an NRA Firearms Training Counselor, I conduct training courses that certify individuals to become NRA Firearms Instructors. I feel it is my job to teach my students the correct terminology, technical data, and concepts so they are informed instructor candidates after they leave my class. Explaining things such as Minutes of Angle (MOA), Ballistic Coefficient (BC), and Sectional Density (SD) are some topics that are necessary for a firearms instructor to know. These topics can be very technical and boring to some. Nonetheless, these items need to be understood by a future instructor. I have never had a male student tell me that the information I was providing was too technical. I have only heard that from female students. After explaining that the importance of learning and understanding these topics will only add to their credibility and, since they are striving to become firearm instructors, their future students and peers will realize they know what they are talking about. Often, women students then take it more seriously than some of the male students!
As an NRA Training Counselor, I conduct many NRA Basic Firearms and NRA Instructor Firearms courses. The vast majority of students in my classes are men. Additionally, most of the women that attend my classes are accompanied by a male counterpart. A small percentage of my students are female gun owners who took it upon themselves to be trained. The number of these ladies that continue on to become NRA Firearms Instructors is even smaller. This needs to change.
As women, we should not be ceding firearms training to our male counterparts. We need more female instructors to meet the needs of all the new female gun owners. Oftentimes, men do not understand the challenges that women face, that men do not. Quite a few women want to take firearms training from women instructors. If there were more female instructors available, the number of ladies seeking training would increase. It is hard to have a seat at the table when most who are already sitting there are male instructors.
The idiom “practice makes perfect” has been refined. The new saying is, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” This means that if you practice with wrong techniques, you only reinforce incorrect shooting skills. The goal is to learn the correct method and then practice, practice and practice some more, to create perfect techniques.
Like firearm training class attendees, the patrons of gun ranges are also majority male. As we see more and more women taking firearms training classes on their own, we are seeing more and more women going to the gun range on their own or with other women. Women take their training seriously as it is no longer considered a “man’s” hobby or sport.
I remember a time when it was unusual to see a woman or a group of ladies at the range. When they would show up, men usually offered their unsolicited help or advice, and made comments like, “It is great to see y’all at the range,” or “I wish more women would shoot.” That is not the case anymore. Women going to the range is no longer a novelty. These days, it is now pretty common to see women offering assistance to others, including men, if they are failing to execute the proper fundamentals of shooting.
As the old saying goes, “If you want to run with the big dogs, you need to get off the porch!” Everyone is welcome at the Second Amendment advocacy table, but it takes work to have a seat at the table of knowledgeable gun owners. You just cannot purchase a firearm and instantly be an expert or a reputable and credible firearms trainer. It takes a commitment for constant research, continuous training, and never-ending perfect practice!