Ladies Preparing To Take Aim

Tom LounsburyHunting Ethics & Safety, Tips for Beginners

The largest demographic in the outdoors today is women and girls getting involved with every aspect, including hunting, fishing, shooting, archery and you name it. What was once thought of as being “men and boys only” outdoor endeavors are now definitely a thing of a bygone era. 

In the not too distant past, ladies had to adapt to outdoor clothing and gear primarily designed for men, but not so today. Outdoors related manufacturers, including clothing, firearms and archery tackle have taken a very serious look at the role women now play in the outdoors. I can remember when Hunter Safety classes were made up primarily with boys, but such isn’t the case today. In fact, I’ve seen Hunter Safety classes where girls outnumbered boys, which in my opinion, is a very positive fact for the future of hunting.

A major involvement of ladies is an interest in personal protection, especially regarding the proper use of handguns. The fact to the matter is, there can be times folks have to rely upon themselves for personal defense, because law enforcement isn’t always close at hand when an emergency suddenly rears its ugly head. Ladies choosing not to become a victim take this fact quite seriously.

A group who had the foresight to realize this is the Thumb Sportsman’s Club, located in a woodsy setting a few miles north of Bad Axe. It was seven years ago that they decided to hold their first “Ladies Night on the Range”, a summertime activity held the last Wednesday of the month (beginning in May and ending in September). The ladies attending will be introduced to the variety of handguns, of which there are over 30 types/models available and how they operate, with firearms safety being always stressed. Then it is off to the club’s dandy berm-surrounded pistol range for actual hands-on shooting with all types of handguns and calibers, under the watchful eyes of skilled instructors. 

Participation costs $10 per lady (a real deal at the price of ammunition today, and a lot of ammunition is used), and during the first year, the Thumb Sportsman’s Club furnished everything, guns, ammunition, and hearing and eyesight protection gear. The following year, the club obtained a grant from the Friends of the NRA Foundation, which now pays for everything, including the purchasing of handguns of various calibers. I fully support the Friends of the NRA, which holds annual fundraising banquets, and the money raised is used to support local shooting programs, including shotgun sports such as trapshooting competitions which have become quite popular in high schools.

I’ve had opportunities to be on hand and observe Ladies Night at the Range. Matters began at 5:00 pm with quite a few ladies in attendance and all were paying close attention to Randy Brown, of Randy’s Hunting Center in Bad Axe, who had a wide variety of handguns spread out on a long table. Brown carefully explained the function of each type, discussed calibers, and the different methods of “personal carry”. He did not recommend carrying a handgun in a purse, because the first thing an assailant often grabs is a lady’s purse, which usually holds a cell phone that can be used to call for help. He also pointed out the dependability of revolvers for simplicity and function, and how to properly hold a semiautomatic pistol, and to avoid the “limp-wrist” hold which can readily cause a malfunction.

Brown also pointed out that women tend to be better shots than men, because they don’t arrive at a shooting class with any preconceived ideas of how to do matters, as well as the fact women pay closer attention, listen and usually have better hand and eye coordination.

Within an hour, all were at the pistol-shooting range, and it was “ladies only” doing the shooting, with different handguns and calibers at each station, which featured a wide variety of targets, from paper to “heavy metal”. Each station also had a different firearms instructor who went over everything in detail, with safety being continually stressed. Ladies had a chance to try all types of handguns, from the .22 rimfire caliber on up, and if they chose to do so, to include firing a full-sized S&W .44 Magnum revolver, which many did. And liked it!

An example was a 15-year-old girl, who stood to the line with the .44 Magnum revolver, and under astute guidance, started hammering steel plates with every shot, and she afterwards stated; “That was really cool!”

The fact is, I noticed that the ladies, after seeing how they hit on paper, much preferred to shoot at the steel plate targets, some of which twirled around when hit. There is a certain amount of satisfaction when you can hear your shot hit home, and do it with authority!

I will never forget the lady who was real timid at first, to even hold the Ruger semiautomatic .22. But after careful coaching from her firearms instructor, she finally touched the trigger and hit the target dead center, at which she exclaimed – “oh my”! She then lined up right away and went on to hammer the steel plate target with the remainder of the magazine, and was clearly enjoying the moment.

Many of the ladies were first-timers, never having fired a gun before. Others were frequent attendees with some now bringing their own handguns, of which they are allowed and encouraged to use, to be fully acquainted. In fact, a couple ladies had just purchased their handguns earlier that day and came to learn how to properly use them.

One such lady had just purchased a handgun at Randy’s Hunting Center and was really looking forward to getting acquainted with her new “carry gun” (all the ladies were encouraged to take a Concealed Pistol License class). She commented to me afterwards that she was very appreciative of how she could shoot different handguns at different targets, and with a different instructor at each station, where she learned something new each time, and that the instructors were all very polite, patient and knowledgeable. She had no doubt about returning to the Thumb Sportsman’s Club for more pistol-shooting practice in the future. (I saw a number of the ladies, after shooting on the pistol range, sign up to become members of the club, which certainly says something about their newly discovered enthusiasm for shooting handguns).

All the ladies were allowed to keep the shooting earmuffs and glasses and were invited to return. The shooting didn’t stop, either, until all the ladies were ready to quit that night, and trust me folks, a whole lot of ammunition got fired, and with enthusiasm!

I thoroughly enjoy observing a Ladies Night on the Range and truly commend the Thumb Sportsman’s Club for having the foresight, dedication and generosity in getting ladies involved into avidly shooting.

One thing is for certain, after the shooting is over, I have yet to see an “anti-gunner” in a large group of ladies.

Yep, folks, that sure warms my heart.

Tom Lounsbury