Thursday, March 29, 2012

Becoming an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor

I’m not sure who was more surprised, the 36 men in my NRA Pistol Instructors certification class that there was a woman in the class, or me, that there was ANOTHER woman in the class! 36 men, 2 women. Giddyup!

When a gentleman from my Sportsman’s club put out an email that he would be teaching an NRA Instructors class, I jumped at the chance. My husband was less excited about spending the required time in a classroom, but I honestly think he didn’t want me to do it without him so I signed us both up. There were a few other guys from my club there, but most of the other attendees were from other clubs.  

We were to start promptly at 9 am. Until about 8:55 I was the only female. I got some strange looks as the “good ole boys” club settled into their seats.  I sat with my husband and the guys from my club, all whom which I’m very comfortable with.  

The class itself was excellent. The NRA does a great job providing material and structure for the course. My instructor did a great job keeping the course work fun and informative. He said in the beginning of the class that there would be 100% participation because we were being certified to teach, and we should be comfortable speaking in front of groups of strangers. Then he did it..”Annette, come on up and speak to the class about how to teach to women and kids..” Ohhh...great...he could have given me a heads up at our lunch break so I could have mentally prepared something..but no. I was on the spot.

I did a decent job with my on-the-spot-no-prep presentation. Naturally in hindsight, I have a whole different lecture planned in my head, but I did the best I could, given the fact I had zero time to prep. As it turns out, only 3 of us spoke to the class that day. One was a lawyer, one a police officer, and me.

After all the instructional part of the class was complete we went on the range. We had to partner up and naturally they wouldn’t let my husband and I be a team. One person was the student, the other the instructor. The student had to shoot a course, clear a misfire, (we loaded dummy rounds into their magazine so it would cause a failure, and then had to teach them how to clear the failure). My partner and I whizzed through the range aspect of the course, then switched places and the student became the instructor. We had to evaluate their performance, and give suggestions for improvements. It was a fun, interactive process and it really brought to light some things that people may do on the range that you don’t notice, like raising their shoulders before they pull the trigger. It was my first time in an indoor range and it was awesome!

I will admit to being nervous prior to the class. I assumed I’d be the only woman there, but I was happy to see another lady taking the class. I met a lot of great guys at the class and I’m very happy I took the step to further my shooting skills and credentials. The instructors seemed happy that there was a female in the class, and they made sure to cover things like asking before you reach over a woman to show her how to do something properly.
Bottom line is, if you’re thinking of becoming an NRA Certified Instructor,  don’t hesitate to take this class and get it done. The more women on the line, the better!

My Little Monsters

(Note: Originally written and posted on another site in June 2011, prior to starting this blog) 

Watch out Lady GaGa, there’s new of “Little Monsters,” and they’re all mine! Yes, I’ve turned my two daughters into little monsters..shooting monsters that is! Shooting isn’t something that kids do in our neck of the woods. We live in a suburb of New York City, and firearms are, for the most part, a taboo subject. 

When my husband and I applied for our pistol permits back in 2008, I think my girls may have been a little freaked out. In our County, pretty much all you can apply for is a “Sportsman Residence” license which allows you to target shoot, hike and hunt. CCW’s are rarely granted because the judges who issue, make you prove “need.” Yes, it’s a violation of my 2nd Amendment Rights, and I am preparing to petition the Judge assigned to my license for conversion to a CCW, but I digress..that will be a whole ‘nother blog entry down the road..

Back to my girls! It all started a few years ago when we went with friends up to a cabin in Upstate NY for a day of shooting. My husband, who had shot competitively on the New York State Junior Rifle team when he was young, hadn’t shot in years after losing the end of his trigger finger in a lawn mower accident when he was 14. (Yeah, I know..) My friends Dad, who owned the cabin, was a World War II hero, Army 82nd Airborne, retired from the Sheriffs Department, worked for the FBI, Firearm Instructor, I could go on and on about “Pop” but first and foremost, he taught us about firearms and safety that day, and what a blast we all had. My girls at the time were 10 and 12, and with his guidance, they shot several types and calibers of rifles and revolvers. It was a great foundation for us all, and the beginning of what has become a passion of mine!

My 14½ year-old daughter had the opportunity to join me at the range when I earned my ProMarksman NRA rating. School was still in session, but winding down, and she had an afternoon full of nothing at school, so I took her out early, deciding that not every lesson in life was learned in the classroom. 

We were joined at the range by one of my shooting buddies, who usually emailed me before heading to the range because he knew I wasn't yet comfortable there by myself. My buddy has lots, and lots of “toys” and usually brings quite a nice assortment of firearms for us to “play” with! I brought along my Browning Buck Mark Camper .22 pistol, and my newly acquired Savage Mark II (NRA limited edition!) .22 rifle that I purchased from the widow of a club member who passed away last year. 

For privacy sake, I'll refer to my girls as D1 and D2. 

This would be D2’s second time to the range. She participated last Fall in our Club’s annual Turkey Shoot, where she was the hit of the group going from member to member trying out their .22 rifles, seems everybody wanted D2 to try their rifle. She had a blast, and it was her first time shooting since she was 10. D2 shot everything that day from a .38 carbine rifle, to a .357 Magnum, (he loaded the first 2 chambers with .38s so she’d get a feel for it, then the rest with .357s, she did great and loved every second.) She spent the next few weeks of school pleading for me to take her out early, so we could go shooting! Yes..Monster #1 created..

D1, my then 16-year-old, had all her hard classes in the afternoon, so there was no early dismissal for her! She had to wait until school was done and testing was over, but we found an opportunity last week when she had a day free of testing! We’ve tried to take her to the range before, but something always got in the way. When I got a call from another club member (Mike) letting me know he was going down to the range, we loaded the truck and headed out. 

I started her on the .22 rifle since Mike was practicing for the upcoming Bulls-Eye shoot from 25 yards, I figured rifle might be the better option, and placed her targets at about 15 yards. She got used to the scope quickly, and had some nice groupings for her first day! (Obviously, she takes after me!)  When Mike was done, we moved outside and she played with my Buck Mark a bit. She couldn’t decide whether she liked the pistol or the rifle better, so she shot both. I didn’t get a lot of practice in, because she was just having too darned much fun!  After a while, Mike left and it was just she and I. She was much more relaxed having just me watching her, and she really began to shine. I took her in close to the target and showed her some basic tactical shooting..well, clearly this was her favorite, and she did well! Yes, Monster #2..created!

Soon enough the girls testing will be done and another school year will be successfully in the books. This frees us up for a summer at the range..which we’re all looking forward to! Being self employed, I have the flexibility to work when convenient; if it’s a beautiful day, I can up and leave my home office and hit the range for a while! (I call it “group therapy!”) One of these times, we’ll even let my husband play..poor guy is stuck at work all day (hey, somebody has to pay for the new toys, right??!!) 

On a serious note, I believe teaching my girls to shoot will be one of the most important things they learn. Besides actual shooting, this sport involves patience, responsibility and self confidence. And lastly, as a mother of two beautiful daughters, I hope that the boys they eventually date have seen their FaceBook profile pictures of them shooting big scoped rifles..