For you ladies out there who are on the fence about taking firearms training, please read her experience:
Having found myself prematurely retired, I had begun to enjoy the bliss of sleeping without an alarm clock and catching up on TV series that I missed from 2001 - 2011 because of erratic work hours. All was well until several police cars showed up at a neighbor's home 2 doors away last spring. Somewhere between 10 - 11 AM, their back deck door was kicked in and jewels were stolen, many from previous family generations. Because of the hour of the break in and the specific items stolen, I wasn't too worried and thought family friends or relatives might have been involved.
Several months later, a break-in and entering was attempted about 7 houses from me in my small safe rural Montgomery County community. This occurred in a cul-de- sac, the burglar seemed to be on foot, and tried to commit his crime around 9 in the morning. My husband saw him walking down our street as he left for work. He wondered about this unfamiliar person walking toward a dead end in our neighborhood but he never called me about it and would never think to call the police.
Although there were two cars in the driveway and the residents were home, the burglar tried to break into the back door and when the alarm went off, it scared him away. The next day had several security company trucks installing home security systems in my neighborhood. We already had a system. I told a neighbor that my security system is a great idea when we're gone but both break-in's this year were done in the morning hours when I'm home. It didn't take much thought to realize a gun would make me feel more protected.
I did some quick research on guns and women on the Internet and decided I needed a 9mm. My friend and I went off to the gun shop where I made my purchase. The Internet guided me to Gilbert's Shooting Range for lessons. While there, they told me they had instructors but that a woman, Tina, had started up a group, SHE CAN SHOOT, for women and would be offering lessons in various parts of the metro area.
I contacted Tina and we chose to meet at Gilbert's. My lesson included such topics as revolvers, pistols, ammunition and safety factors. Rather than starting with my gun, Tina had a bag full of guns and she suggested several that I should start off with. She selected a non-threatening target (circles instead of a grizzly mean man or a ghoul), picked the ammunition, and lent me ear muffs for protection and safety glasses.
We entered the lane we were assigned and Tina organized the target, ammo and the gun for my first shot. I was a little scared and asked her to shoot the gun first and she did. Next, I took the gun. As I looked around, no one was paying attention to me nor pointing and saying "look at that retired woman learning to shoot." I felt very comfortable. When I took the gun into my hands, I knew that this was for me! It felt so natural. I tried several guns, all .22 caliber, and the recoil I expected didn't exist. This was a lot of fun.
I decided to try Tina's .9mm before trying mine and was surprised to find that the recoil was pretty intense and that I couldn't rack the slide. Learning to shoot comes with its own vocabulary, by the way. In other words, I couldn't move the slide back which is essential. I lacked the strength in hands and arms.
So I was stuck with a gun I couldn't use. I wish I had known about SHE CAN SHOOT before I bought it. Tina suggested I try to exchange it for a .22 caliber but the paperwork is intense because of reassigning serial numbers, etc. Plus, it could no longer be sold as new so I did not get all my money back. I did buy a Ruger SR22 that I am passionate about. It's a great gun and I try to practice 2 - 3 times per week. I am totally confident with it and feel that if need be, I would be able to shoot an intruder in my home. Tina and others have told me don't let anyone tell you that you can't cause damage with a .22.
I feel empowered as the result of my training and practice. SHE CAN SHOOT offers many opportunities for women to get together for various types of instruction, to shoot at ranges and for other related social events. It adds a level of comradery knowing that women of all ages and walks of life are sharing a sense of empowerment. As for me, I just may be ready to move on to a .9mm.