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Women and Shooting

It’s no secret that women are one of the fastest growing demographics when it comes to American gun ownership, but very often women in law enforcement don’t see the “fun” side of firearms, and that's too bad.  Yes, your on duty firearm(s) are tools designed to keep yourself and others safe, but that doesn’t mean practicing with them can’t be fun.

Unfortunately, so many of us have been issued a handgun or a shotgun (or both) that’s too big, too long, or just doesn’t fit right.  Combine the “fit” issue with an instructor…male or female…that just doesn’t get it, and many women often dread going to the range.  Poor scores and lousy instruction often lead to a lack of confidence, which is a disaster for a cop who finds herself in a gunfight.

Firearms issues are always a big discussion point at every “Winning Mind for Women” class we teach, and there are a number of things we recommend to remediate the problem, but I’ve never made the recommendation I’m about to make.  

Join the National Rifle Association.  There, I said it.  I don’t like to recommend political groups, and I’ve not always agreed with the NRA’s stance on a number of issues, but they are definitely at the forefront of bringing shooting sports and firearms education to women.  Sometimes you have to get a little outside of your comfort zone to make improvements, and that’s what I aim to do (pun intended).  It’s also what I want you to do if you’re looking at improving your shooting. 

The National Rifle Association has a law enforcement division that was established in 1960 to help provide police departments with a mechanism to certify their firearms instructors.  So much has changed since then, but the NRA is very supportive of police training groups like the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) and the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA).   They also support Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) and other law enforcement charities. 

The NRA’s law enforcement division has great training and support for cops, but if you’re really looking to change the way you view shooting, reach out to the NRA’s Women on Target® program.  Since 2008 participation in this civilian program has increased by almost 70 percent, and they offer information and training ranging from tactical to educational to political.  Their programming is incredibly diverse, and it’s all geared toward women.   

“We’re encouraged about the state of firearms in America by the increasing success and reach of our programs,” says Bill Poole, Managing Director of NRA’s Educational and Training Division. “Providing citizens with ways to safely exercise their Second Amendment rights helps them discover new interests and ensures our shooting traditions will be a lasting heritage passed on to future generations.”

So why turn to a group for “civilians” for firearms instruction?  As several of my range instructors have told me, sometimes female police officers who have been less than successful shooters need to go back to the beginning, but that’s hard to do if you’re already a cop.  People have certain expectations of you; they expect you to be a female Rambo, so even if you go to all female firearms training event outside of your own department…something I’m a big proponent of…you may not feel entirely comfortable. 

The NRA offers Women on Target® Instructional Shooting Clinics throughout the United States.  These training classes are where you’ll find everyone from teenagers to grandmothers learning not only how to operate a firearm, but how to safety clean and store it.  Participants also learn to appreciate the sporting aspect of gun ownership as well as how to protect themselves and their loved ones.  Think about finding one in your area (or one in a vacation spot you’ve always wanted to visit) and signing up.  Take your daughter, your niece, your girlfriend, someone you trust and want to have some fun with.  Yes, some of it will be incredibly basic for you, but this is the perfect first step to breaking some of those bad habits and learning about the “fun” side of firearms.  

The NRA also understands that when it comes to firearms instruction, very often women are going to be more comfortable, and thus more successful, when they are trained by other women.  A female-only pistol class can turn what might be an intimidating event for some into a socially safe day (or week) of fun and camaraderie.  This has lead to the NRA’s use of social networking and online media to promote “firearms, fashion and more” for women at all levels of gun ownership and interest.  Female firearms enthusiasts come from all walks of life, and you’re likely to meet some terrific and inspiring women. You can also find video tips from law enforcement pros like Kim Heath on the NRA’s Women’s online TV channel and get involved in the discussion through social media. 

For more experienced shooters, Women on Target® offers marksmanship qualification programs and an opportunity to explore competitive shooting or become an NRA firearms instructor.  The NRA also offers fully supported educational opportunities like the “Refuse to Be a Victim” personal safety program and the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program for young children that you can become involved in as an instructor. These prevention programs are perfect to your community not only as a volunteer citizen but as a civil servant. 

If you’re an American crimefighter, you’re very likely to find yourself in a gun battle during your career.  Don’t you want to be 100 % prepared 100 % of the time?  It’s time to break those old habits, take up a new activity or two, and become the most confident shooter on your agency.  Joining the National Rifle Association is just one of the many ways you can accomplish that goal. 

NRA Women’s TV:

The NRA and Women:

NRA Law Enforcement Division: