Women have a try at handgunsWORTHINGTON — One of the roles I have played over the past 15 years is that of a youth firearms safety program instructor. I and my colleagues have trained hundreds of youths on the safe and ethical use of all kinds of firearms. It is this training that has been credited for lowering the rate of firearms accidents to all-time lows. Hunting is actually much safer than almost all organized sports.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — One of the roles I have played over the past 15 years is that of a youth firearms safety program instructor. I and my colleagues have trained hundreds of youths on the safe and ethical use of all kinds of firearms. It is this training that has been credited for lowering the rate of firearms accidents to all-time lows. Hunting is actually much safer than almost all organized sports.
About a year and a half ago I started teaching a class for adults on the basic operation and proper use of firearms, specifically handguns. Minnesota residents and non-residents can now, as a result of the Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act, take a training class that allows them to possess a handgun on their person. This is subject to multiple restrictions and requires proper training along with passage of the required, rigorous background check. This law has been around since 2003.
The makeup of my class is normally about 90 percent men and 10 percent women. I have often wondered why this is. I decided to see if the low participation rate by women was a result of lack of access to this important training or something else.
A few weeks back, a company I own called Protecting You and Yours LLC had a booth at the Women’s Expo in Worthington. I spent about six hours visiting with many women of different ages and backgrounds about the basics of firearm safety and the rules that surround the permit-to-carry laws in our state.
At the booth, I was offering a women-only firearms safety and permit-to-carry class that was scheduled for about three weeks later. Before the end of the day, I had seven women signed up who were interested in knowing more about gun safety and self defense issues. I was pleasantly surprised by the large number of women who showed interest in knowing more about this issue.
I limited the class to 10 participants and, by the end of the week, the class was full. Women represent the fastest growing segment of hunters and recreational shooters in America.
The booth was busy for the entire day and I answered tons of questions. When the day came for the women-only class, I had a few cancellations and those spots filled immediately by others on the waiting list. We offered the class at the Worthington Gun Club and started at 9 a.m. We had to start the day with raspberry flips from Casey’s and a 30-cup coffee pot.
Several of the women had signed up with a friend, but most of the attendees did not know the other participants when we started. We covered the four basic rules of firearms safety. (1) Treat every gun like it’s loaded and always perform a clearance check when you pick one up. (2) Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and don’t point the gun at anything that you are not willing to destroy. (3) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot; and (4) Know your target and what lies beyond it. These are so simple, and by obeying these rules you have gone a great distance in being a safe gun handler.
The gals did a great job and asked many more questions. When you understand the basics of firearms you can be a safer, more confident person —even if you never own a gun.
How will you be able to identify when someone else is handling a gun improperly if you yourself don’t know how to do it right?
I have said that every youth should take firearm safety even if they never intend to hunt. They have a better understanding of guns and safe gun handling and, as a result, can make better decisions. I think this holds true for adults as well. We handled revolvers, semi-automatics and covered, in-depth, the differences between them.
After we covered a full gamut of elements in the classroom setting, all the gals then went to the shooting range. It was a little breezy and cool, but we are going to get together again later this spring and will have another shooting outing when it’s 80 degrees and sunny. Many had never fired a handgun before, some only a few times and the group got their first taste of pistol shooting by shooting .22 caliber pistols. They loaded them themselves, handled them properly and shot at a variety of targets.
It is very impressive just how well the average female shooter is her first time. I would say that if you lined up 50 first time shooters and split those 50-50 between males and females, the ladies would shoot a better score their first time out. They all did great and some did better than great. At the end of the exercise they were more comfortable around handguns and most had a desire to shoot again.
It is this first introduction to handguns that starts the process of understanding their function and how they, with practice, just might at some point save your life.
I had a great time with this ladies class and will be hosting another ladies-only class when I can get 10 ladies signed up. If you are interested in participating in a ladies-only class, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be hosting some addition regular classes later this summer and those dates can be attained by emailing the same address. I am willing to do special classes for individual groups if you can get 10 participants.
Thanks ladies for a great day.