On pairing women with guns (or, how to maintain a relationship while learning to shoot.)

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You’ve probably seen news articling exploring the “phenomenon” of women who choose to carry a gun for their own protection. They’re interesting to read, and when I saw one recently I was reminded of my own wife’s journey to self-empowerment (in the ballistic sense.)

I’m of the belief that women should always be proactive with regards to their own safety. Sadly, our current society has inculcated a fear of weapons into the collective conscious of the female half of the population. It takes real fortitude for a lady to swim against that tide and arm herself, and I salute those who choose to do so.

Drawing from my own wife’s experience I’ve formed some very specific opinions on the topic of introducing women to shooting. Guys, if there is a woman in your life who has decided to travel down the road of self protection, I offer you Grant’s Rules For Helping Ladies Who Want To Shoot.

1) Don’t try to teach her yourself. Aside from passing on bad habits that you have (I don’t care if you did qualify as “expert” when you were in the Army, you will have bad habits), it’s difficult to impart what you do right no matter how sincere your desire to help.

Women learn differently than men; precious few men understand this, and even fewer understand how to teach to it. It’s not uncommon for women to become extremely frustrated under these conditions, and give up entirely. It may not happen until the lessons are over – you may never know of the damage you’ve done. Let someone else – someone who is experienced teaching women – do this for you. It doesn’t mean you’re any less of a man, and it just might save you some grief.

2) Rule #1 is increased by a factor of 10 if she is your Significant Other. Wife, girlfriend, or fiancée — ignore this at your peril! I am not kidding!

3) If possible, get her to a women’s only class that is actually taught by a female instructor. (If you’re on the west coast, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the women’s only classes taught by Gila Hayes at the Firearms Academy of Seattle. She’s tops. Seriously.)

4) Don’t pick her gun for her. So many times a woman, bowing to the desires of the man who proffers her shooting advice (solicited or otherwise), ends up with a lightweight titanium or scandium revolver that is incredibly ill-suited for her physical makeup. The recoil is brutal (hey, even I don’t like shooting them), and their stock triggers can be difficult for petite forefingers to actuate. Yes, you could send it to a gunsmith and have that problem eased, but let her decide if it is right for her!

(Listen, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I’m a proponent of the revolver for personal protection. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a problem extant that a good revolver can’t solve. Even so, I acknowledge an autoloader is often the better choice for most people, including most women.) The very best thing you can do is curb your own opinions and take her to a gun range that rents guns, where she can pick her own way through the models. If she picks an autoloader, it won’t hurt my feelings. (Not for long, anyhow.) The important thing is that it be her own choice.

Following these simple rules will result in an excited new shooter and harmony at home (where appropriate.)

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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