Developing more female NRA Certified Instructors has been a major goal of the Women's Programs Department these last few years. Many women want to learn to shoot and are looking for another woman to show them the ropes - that's where NRA's cadre of female instructors comes into play. Arizona's Amber Kunau recently joined that group, earning her certification as an NRA Certified Instructor. Amber shared her experience with NRAblog and explained what led her to get her certification and how she's using it to train others.

NRA Certified Instructor Amber Kunau Becoming an NRA Certified Instructor was something I had thought about frequently so when I saw classes listed at my local range (Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club) it seemed like the perfect time to jump in and get to work. I started with the Range Safety Officer (RSO) class done by Jim Neff of Generations Firearms in Mesa, Arizona. The RSO class taught by Jim was interactive, informative and fun. After the great experience I had in the RSO class, I knew that getting my instructor certification with Jim was going to be nothing less than a great experience and the knowledge I would take away would be invaluable to me as a firearms instructor. In fact, I enjoyed that class so much I signed up for several more and went on to get my instructor level training in Pistol, Personal Protection Inside The Home, and Personal Protection Outside The Home and still have upcoming instructor classes in my calendar for Rifle and Shotgun.

The biggest thing that I took away from these classes is that students learn by doing. A great instructor doesn’t just stand in front of the class and just talk. Instead, a great instructor gets the class involved in mock “real life” scenarios and great discussions which gets everyone thinking on their own and working hard for their certification. I also learned that a good attitude is an absolute necessity.

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Samantha Virk at the 2012 SHOT Show in Vegas
Samantha Virk readies for the onslaught of SHOT Show.
Las Vegas, Nevada -Looks can be deceiving.

When first meeting Samantha Virk, for example, you probably wouldn’t guess that she’s a professional hunter and guide. That is, until, you focus in on the boar tusks dangling from her neck. And then ask where she got them.

“I got them from the boar that did this,” she said pointing at a scar on her leg. “He gave me that as a souvenir so I took his tusks as another.”

And that’s not the first battle she’s won in the great outdoors.

Starting at an early age, Sam’s resume spans from fly-fishing in Utah to duck hunting in Arizona, bear hunting in Alaska and plains game in Zimbabwe. Recently, it’s the African side of adventure that’s been calling her most.

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Texas women bringing outdoor adventures to future generations

DIVAs at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada - "Now its the time to be a woman. It use to be that men didn't want anything to do with women's events and now they're asking how many we're holding. It's wonderful."

Those are the words of one Judy Rhodes, Founder of DIVA … Women Outdoors Worldwide.

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Judy's decision to start DIVA (formerly known as Texas Women's Shooting Sports) back in 1991 came to her as a mission. After growing up on a Texas ranch, she began to realize that the tradition of female shooters and hunters was disappearing. As previous generations passed, the number of new recruits failed to replenish the field. It was time for action.

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Colorado blogger brings her family into hunting & the outdoors

Mia Anstine from Wolf Creek Outfitters Mia Anstine runs Wolf Creek Outfitters with her husband Hank. A constant source of hunting fun and information on the social media circuit, I had hoped to interview Mia during the 2012 SHOT Show. That never happened. Not to be deterred, I decided to employ the social media engine and perform that interview via Twitter.

Here's the transcript from yesterday's Twitterview:

Tell me about your first gun
I was 7 when I shot my first .22 pistol. But I got to shoot an Ouzzie when at 8! That's when I learned to love & respect firearms. My first gun that was "all my own" was/is a Winchester .270. I was 26 and decided I was going to put food on the table. Family & friends pitched in to buy it for my birthday!

Why the drive to put food on the table?
I got tired of pitching in for a side of beef and getting all the hamburger. I went hunting with dad and friends as a kid and always enjoyed it. But I wasn't allowed to hunt ... just the guys were. I helped field dress animals and pack them out. He's amazed by me now.

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Diane Danielson, our Female Instructor Development Coordinator, has some exciting news about an upcoming NRA Certified Pistol Instructor course just for women. With more women learning to shoot every year, we're looking for more women to become instructors. If you're in the Southwest, then consider attending this course later this month. And sorry, fellas. This one is just for the ladies.  

A female NRA Certified Pistol Instructor teaching a female student on NRAblog.com Are you going to SHOT Show? Are you looking for a way to extend your trip through the weekend following the show while the guys are playing golf? Or are you just looking to get away to Phoenix, AZ in January and spend some quality time at the range to become an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor? Join us at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility on January 20-22, 2012 for the next NRA Pistol Instructor Course for women – by women.

More and more women are registering for firearm training than ever before and it's a fact that they prefer to be taught by other women. If you feel you have the qualifications to become part of the growing number of Female Certified Pistol Instructors – come join us.

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The December issue of Shooting Sports USA, NRA's Competitive Shooting Journal, features a special competition clinic held at the Scarborough Fish & Game Association in Scarborough, Maine deisgned specifically for women. Aimed at bringing more women into the world of competitive shooting, this successful event shows that recruiting new shooters can be as simple as making the classroom fit the student.  

Just For Women Competition Clinic

Written by David Petzal with photo by Bruce Fleming

Women learn from each other during a Competition Clinic - As any firearms instructor or coach can tell you, women shoot as well as men and are often easier to teach. So why aren’t there more of them in the shooting sports? Because getting women and guns to mix in this day and age takes some special effort. [Editor’s note: In our 2010 review of NRA Classification data, 9.12% of competitive shooters were women.]

A prime example of how recruiting more women shooters can be done successfully was provided on May 14, 2011 at Scarborough Fish & Game Association (SF&GA) in Scarborough, ME. Incorporated in 1958, this NRA-affiliated club has grown to 177 acres with ranges for ATA trap, sporting clays, 5-stand/ wobble trap, high power rifle, IDPA action pistol, bullseye pistol and archery. There are also 25-, 50-, and 100-yard utility ranges, all run and maintained by the 750-plus club members.

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The Wall Street Journal has a great article up about the rise in popularity of shooting sports among women through the help of the Women On Target program.

Women Pulling the Trigger

A new woman shooter takes aim at a Women On Target clinic on NRAblog.GHENT, N.Y.—The vegan, the yoga instructor and the former Peace Corps member mingled with other women at a recent retreat in upstate New York, sharing advice: Keep both eyes open when firing a shotgun. Ear plugs are essential to mute the blasts. And when women shoot, the butt of the gun needs to sit between the shoulder and collar bone to cushion the recoil, an adjustment to the typical male shooting stance.

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Here's a look at some new coverage of a Women On Target® Instructional Shooting Clinic held earlier this year. WBOY's Susan Sullivan visited the Salem Rifle & Pistol Club in Salem, West Virginia to see what NRA's Women On Target® program is helping ladies across the country learn the fundamentals of gun safety and marksmanship while developing a love of the shooting sports.

Interested in attending a Women On Target® Instructional Shooting Clinic? Find an event in your area, or contact Women On Target® Program Coordinator Diane Danielson at ddanielson@nrahq.org.

A female NRA Certified Pistol Instructor teaching a female student on NRAblog.com

The NRA Training Department may have just hit 80,000 NRA Certified Instructors, but now we're looking for a few good ladies. NRA recently began an effort to create more female NRA Certified Instructors to help reach all the ladies looking for firearms training by women and for women. The ladies upstairs in the Women's Programs Department filled us in on some upcoming Women-Only Pistol Instructor Courses, and here they are:

  • October 29-30 in Alexandria, VA
  • January 20-22 in Phoenix, AZ

To register for either of these classes, visit www.nrainstructors.org and search by location or type of course. We've been assured that more locations are being added, so be sure to check back for updates.

Would you like to see a Women-Only Instructor Course in your area? Contact femaleinstructors@nrahq.org with requests and questions.  

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