Western Wayne County Conservation Association in Michigan has received NRA Foundation grants of ammunition, safety equipment and targets used for Women’s Sport Shooting shotgun and handgun programs. The programs help support women in continuing their training and encourage new shooters to gain the necessary training to handle a firearm with confidence. Here, one participant shares her personal story about the impact of this firearms training on her life.
I had always maintained that I would never allow a gun in my home. But in June 2012 that perspective started to change. While I was visiting my sister’s family, one of my nephew’s friends came over with his handgun. My sister and her husband own 10 acres of land, so we were able to take it outside and do some target practice in their yard. Looking at a target about 10 to 15 yards away, I told myself, “If I can hit that from here I will buy myself a gun.” I shot twice and the bullets ended up in the circle—so I started preparing. "I had always maintained that I would never allow a gun in my home. But in June 2012 that perspective started to change." Come Christmas time I remember going to the shop and looking at all the guns, with my eye on a certain .38 Special. But by January, there were hardly any guns left in the case—most had been purchased due to that December’s firearms and ammunition scare. However, there sat another .38 Special, and I bought it! Frankly, I was intimidated by it, but I was also very excited.
I knew I needed training and wanted to take a CPL (Concealed Pistol License) class. So, I enrolled 14 family members and myself and had the instructor come to my sister’s house to do the training. It was a full day’s event, including the shooting part of the test which we did in the backyard. We all passed and we all received our CPL’s.
However, I was still not comfortable carrying or shooting on my own. We would go to the shooting range, but I couldn’t shake the question: “What if it jams? What if… What if… What if…?” I just didn’t feel confident with a firearm yet—never mind a loaded one.
Then, I accompanied a friend to shop for her own firearm, and the salesman told us about the Western Wayne County Conservation Association (WWCCA) and its women’s firearms training programs like “Galz and Gunz.” I wasted no time looking it up and calling for more information, and we were invited to come and check out the club. After visiting, I started reading the WWCCA website and came across Dianne Salata’s name for Handgun Training. I called her and set up an appointment for both a friend and me to start training. That call changed my life!
Kathy's training has included the AR-15 platform
Going to a gun club was intimidating to me as a woman, but Dianne made me feel welcomed and safe with her patience, knowledge and emphasis on safety. Through one-on-one training she taught us so much about firearms and safe gun handling. She was genuinely interested in teaching us, and teaching us the right way. We started with handguns and then moved into shotguns shortly after.
My friend and I both joined the WWCCA that same year—perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made. We started going at least every other weekend for training and immediately joined the monthly Women’s Handgun Training class. It was exciting to meet and shoot with other women as a group. I felt supported, and I was having a lot of fun. Dianne continued to be encouraging and safety-oriented, which made me feel comfortable. And I was starting to feel more and more confident in my own skills.
During the Handgun Training classes, Dianne would have other experienced gun handlers with us to observe, to give us tips, to help in case of a jam or other problem. That’s how we met Frank, a retired Marine captain whom we’ve grown to love and who joined Dianne in emphasizing safety on and off the range.
Kathy, right, practicing her shotgun shooting with fellow WWCCA member Cynthia Cook
Their club also hosted a Women’s Trap League, so I bought a shotgun in the fall and joined the Trap League the following spring. Again, Dianne was so very patient with her one-on-one training. Although I would only hit a few clays in the beginning, I would get so excited when I did hit one. It was so much fun shooting with other women who enjoy the same sport. I was really feeling comfortable and supported!
After I joined the Women’s Handgun and Trap Leagues, I met more and more people at the club. Through them, I connected to other NRA training classes and participated in various events to further my knowledge, experience and enjoyment. The Personal Protection Outside the Home was an especially intense course, but it provided great no-nonsense training. Now I carry with confidence, and I know I can protect myself, my family, and my home if I had to.
Kathy, far right, with other members of the WWCCA Women's Shotgun Team
Meeting Dianne and joining the WWCCA Women’s Handgun and Trap Leagues has truly empowered me and made me a confident and responsible gun carrying woman. That one call truly changed my life!
Apply for a grant to fund your women’s firearm training programs and more at nrafoundation.org. Attend a Friends of NRA event near you to fundraise in support of these grants! Find one at friendsofnra.org/Events.