by Debbie Crews - Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Debbie Crews' experience with firearms dates back to her youth. Now as the Assistant Manager at the NRA Range, a NRA Certified Instructor, and Owner/Chief Trainer at Apprentice Arms Training, LLC, Crews shares her experience of working with other female shooters at various skill levels and the benefits they're able to take a way from the experience:
Women are the largest growing demographic in the firearms industry and have been for some time. Shooting ranges and manufacturers have taken notice where "Ladies Night" or other women's only events are hosted and advertisements and product development are catered to female shooters. Women of all walks of life are participating. Mothers wanting to learn to defend themselves and their children, single women wanting to learn different ways to protect themselves while walking home alone at night, girlfriends learning a new sport and attending competitions together, and wives going to the range to shoot recreationally with their husbands. These are just a few of the many reasons women want to learn how to shoot, and they are taking the initiative in to their own hands.
Here comes the often intimidating part; seeking out professional training and purchasing a firearm. So, who better to teach another woman the uses of a firearm than a like-minded female instructor?
Female Certified Instructors are also on the rise in addition to women’s only training groups operating all around the nation. Women learning from other women! Female trainers have a vested interest in helping other women not only succeed, but also in building their skills to grow the female shooting community and having their efforts paid forward. It is more likely for women to attend a shooting competition when other female shooters are participating, for example. We are put at ease knowing we are not alone and that we are welcomed.
The stereotypes of the shooting sports being male dominated may be all some women have ever heard. That needs to be challenged. Women’s only training groups are working hard to change that perception and bring more women into the various aspects of the industry. Many female instructors conduct “Ladies Only” courses which reduces the intimidation factor from learning how to shoot safely and accurately. We understand the unique challenges women face when learning something like locking a slide to the rear. Female trainers are able to look at what is being done from a familiar perspective and guide the student to use more technique rather than pure hand strength. A female shooter can provide better insight to which firearms are comfortable to shoot instead of relying on a marketing concept or having a male friend with preconceived notions making recommendations. The natural abilities of women to be assertive without aggression and supportive without patronizing, are an asset to any training program.
The ladies only group that I lead has cultivated women who were at first nervous, yet excited to learn, and are now certified instructors themselves. They have their own knowledge and skill to rely on while mentoring new ladies joining the group. Their learning will continue as they aspire to be more of an asset to the other female participants and more importantly, we encourage and support each other.
Witnessing this sense of pride and progress women gain in a sport that I enjoy, encourages my ongoing efforts. We simply listen, understand, and participate better when taught by other women and we encourage you to keep training and keep learning. The days of Tupperware parties and lunch socials are over… I’ll meet you at the range instead!
Check out how women are getting involved in the shooting sports in more ways than one:
If you’re curious about firearms, whether for personal defense or to learn a new sport, Women On Target® is the perfect place to start. These instructional shooting clinics are designed to teach you firearm safety and the fundamentals of marksmanship, giving you the confidence you need to safely handle and operate a firearm upon completion.
DIVA WOW is more than a shooting organization – it is a vehicle for educating women and youth about the outdoors and affords them opportunities for participation in all outdoor activities. Since 1999, DIVA WOW has dedicated itself to encourage and mentor women and youth in the shooting sports and have introduced more than 4,000 across the country.
A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League (AG & AG) is a shooting club established by women shooters for women shooters. With a goal to empower, educate, and have fun at the range, AG & AG events have been successful stepping stones for thousands of women. These events are intended to be fun social gatherings where women can come together for support, encouragement, ask questions in a safe and nonjudgmental environment, improve on their marksmanship, and bond together in the shooting community.