Americans are living in a time marked by change. For women, today’s new reality requires some major changes. One significant change is the woman’s journey from being “the protected” to becoming “the protector.” Today, women’s lives are in constant motion, most of it lived outside the home. Many women are single, possibly raising children on their own or building a career. To be protected by the men in their lives or by law enforcement is simply a fantasy. Women are ready to give up the dream of a knight in shining armor for a new reality with their own shiny, stainless 1911 holstered on their hip!
For women, this new reality leads them on a journey into the foreign world of guns and into the role of self-protector. I found myself in this role as a then-single woman with my youngest child having flown the nest. I came to the realization that I was vulnerable, and I wanted to do something about it. That is when a friend of mine took me shooting. I remember well the fear and excitement I felt as I held that semi-automatic pistol in my hand. After the first shot, I knew I had found the solution to my self-protection problem and a fun new activity. I began my search for resources to help me become better equipped, more knowledgeable and prepared to defend myself.
Learning The Language
It was then that I took on the intimidating journey of navigating the foreign language and equipment of firearms. On its own, this new task is imposing. Now add to the mix a predominantly male environment with a testosterone fog as thick as a San Francisco morning, and we are talking intimidation on steroids! I had nowhere to go, or I should say, nowhere I was comfortable going. My online searches brought slim results that lacked the depth and respect I craved as a woman. I wasn’t yet prepared to go to the shooting range or gun store, and my search for products made for me, a woman, revealed they didn’t exist. It was time for things to change.
It was out of frustration that I started The Well Armed Woman. My mission was to provide a comprehensive, intelligent and respectful web resource to educate, equip and empower woman shooters. A powerful community of like-minded women was born, and women were beginning to navigate their journey toward self-protector a little more easily.
“One elderly woman shared that she had lost her husband—he was always her protector—but now The Well Armed Woman is going to give her the confidence she needs to start her new life without him…”
What quickly became very clear was that women were also hungry for the experience of shooting a firearm and for the opportunity to try different guns and calibers and ask questions. They were eager to train and grow proficient with their handguns, but needed a comfortable, safe and non-intimidating environment. With this in mind, I posted the idea on The Well Armed Woman Facebook page asking if women would be interested in such a program. What has happened since I hit the “Post” button has been nothing short of astonishing. Within 48 hours, The Well Armed Woman National Chapter program was born. In its first year, more than 180 chapters were started in 42 states, enrolling thousands of members—a level of success knocking even me off my feet. Ranges all over the country are partnering with The Well Armed Woman, eager to host monthly shoots and to greet and welcome their local woman shooters.
These local events are drawing women by the hundreds, and The Well Armed Woman chapter leaders are scrambling to meet the need. Each shoot has group time for discussing topics important to women shooters, such as how to clean your handgun and finding the right concealed-carry holster for their needs. The women also spend time on the range practicing and honing their shooting skills. We see women of all ages begin with nothing but a fear of guns and watch them transform into confident and competent self-protectors.
The smiles and glow of their newfound confidence are priceless. One elderly woman shared that she had lost her husband—he was always her protector—but now The Well Armed Woman is going to give her the confidence she needs to start her new life without him. One participant in Michigan was found at the door in tears. When asked why she was crying and leaving, she shared that she would never be able to learn to shoot, that her hands hurt so much, she just wasn’t strong enough and would never try shooting again. The chapter leader tenderly encouraged her to try again: This time she was given a .22-caliber handgun. After shooting the rest of the night, she proudly showed off the tight grouping that she had made in the center of the target.
Strong & Confident
What does all of this mean? The sheer scale and energy with which women are flooding the industry will have a great impact on multiple levels—first on the lives of women as they change what it means to be vulnerable and to be a victim and shrink the size of the target historically placed on women as the “smaller and weaker sex.”
Secondly, this new powerful community of women shooters is energized, engaged and actively participating in the political process and defending the Second Amendment rights of each and every American.
And finally, as the organizer and nurturer of the family, a mother’s interest and passion for shooting will greatly influence the activities of the entire family. What was once a father/son activity is now a family affair with the full participation of moms and daughters, too. This healthy family activity and the respect for our right to bear arms it brings will pass in greater numbers from this generation to the next.
Change: For some it spells discomfort; for others, it is something to fear. But for the women joining the ranks of American gun owners and self-protectors, it’s an opportunity to grow. And as The Well Armed Woman shows, this is an opportunity women are embracing with great passion!
For more information, visit http://www.thewellarmedwoman.com.