When my wife, Jocelynn, found out that Bob Rich was offering a women’s basic handgun class recently, she told me she was taking it. She has a concealed handgun license, but has never had any real training. I’ve tried to teach her some basic pistol skills, but that’s like learning to run the government by listening to Robert Redford. It may sound OK, but it’s probably wrong.
So Jocelynn and I went to Delta Red, just east of San Saba, and spent a Saturday letting Greg McGregor and Bob Rich teach her the right way to handle and shoot a pistol. There were five other women in the class, and their skill levels ranged from ‘It would be a good idea to call her ma’am’ to ‘where does the bullet come out?’ I believe it was an educational day for all of us.
Bob tailors his classes for women toward the things that are more beneficial for women, for some reason. The basic safety rules are first and foremost, of course, and guns work the same for either gender, but Bob makes the women’s class a little more informative, I think, than his general classes. He includes stuff like what exactly happens inside a gun when it goes off. Average women don’t usually learn that stuff because they don’t spend a lot of time shooting. Average men don’t learn that stuff because they don’t care. They just want to make some noise.
Aside from myself, purely as an observer, the only men were the teachers, and I think it caused the women to be more comfortable than they would if the class were mostly male. They probably asked more questions, and certainly they asked questions I would never have thought to ask, such as, “Why did Springfield recall the XDS?”
No kidding, Springfield issued a recall of all their XDS pistols recently, and one of the ladies asked about it. Obviously, some of these women were more aware than I expected about the shooting world. And since Bob is a Springfield rep, he was able to answer the question in depth.
The morning went by quickly, and by noon the ladies were lined up at the back of the classroom, practicing magazine changes, dropping firing pins on chambered snap caps. Some of the girls picked it up quicker than others, but by the time they headed for the range after lunch, they could all switch mags without having to turn the gun upside down and check which way the cartridges were pointed.
At the range the women shot at human silhouette targets from three yards or less, and Bob explained that getting used to shooting a gun at a human shape is part of the process of learning self protection with a gun. People have a natural aversion to shooting at other people, so it’s a good idea to practice on a humanoid form. That may sound harsh, but bear in mind that anyone any of these ladies ever shoots at has chosen his role as an aggressor. They aren’t likely to shoot the mailman, unless he’s got it coming.
Bob and Greg also taught the ladies the ‘tap, rack’ method of clearing most malfunctions, such as failure to fire and failure to eject, and how to clear a double-feed jam. Everything always goes great until something goes wrong, and you need to know how to fix it. The women did great.
Bob had the ladies do one drill where they fired at their attacker from the hip, at arm’s length or less. Jocelynn said that was a particularly hard thing to do, because of the idea that she might have to shoot a man from such close range. These things need to be examined and decided on ahead of time, or else there might not be a later.
All the women in the class seemed to enjoy themselves a great deal, and all plan to practice and take more advanced training. On the way home Jocelynn said, “I feel more powerful than I ever have, because I have more confidence that I can take care of myself if I have to.”
Even if none of the ladies in the class ever have to draw a gun for protection, the peace of mind and confidence they gained was well worth the investment in time and money. The more training, the more proficiency, the more confidence. And, of course, there are far less fun ways to spend a day than shooting guns.
Bob has a great facility at Delta Red, and runs a top notch program. Anyone looking for training with guns would have a hard time finding a better place to train and learn. I mean, if I’m not available, of course.
I would especially urge men to encourage their wives to take at least the basic handgun course at Delta Red, since women are often more vulnerable to attack than men. The saying goes that Samuel Colt made all men equal, but it goes for women, too.
And no one is ever free who depends on others for protection . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who calls his wife ‘ma’am.’ Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For class schedules and information about Delta Red visit www.deltared.com or call 512.264.1951