Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Girls With Guns

Keep and Bear Arms is pretty much the place to go and find firearm related news all in one place. I guess it is kind of like the Drudge Report for folks interested in national and global firearm news.

While searching for an article to discuss, the headline "Girls With Guns" jumped out at me and demanded at least a quick read. You see, one of the happiest times with my third daughter is when she beat me at the long range .22 silhouette shoot for the first time. She is pretty sharp with that single shot Martini of hers. Reading the article reminded me of times spent shooting with my daughters, sharing their excitement at a well placed shot, and just a little bit of pride when others complemented them on safety or skills.

This article describes how women are becoming more involved in the shooting sports, and shooting in general:

ASHBURNHAM -- Esther Erickson pressed her face against the stock of her shotgun, and put her finger on the trigger.

"Pull!" she yelled.

An orange clay target soared over the field in front of her.

Erickson fired, as her target hovered for an instant.

She hit it with apparent ease and it exploded into tiny fluorescent pieces, almost like a miniature fireworks display.

The booming noise of her shot reverberated as she rested her 12-gauge shotgun on the ground and waited for others to take their turns.

"This really is just for fun," she said later as she took a break from shooting.

The Ashburnham woman is one of a growing number of women learning how to shoot.

She and others attribute the trend to a number of factors, including the desire to learn how to protect themselves, the chance to spend more time with their husbands and boyfriends and less social resistance to women learning how to shoot.

Erickson doesn't pay much attention to being a woman in what is stereotypically a man's sport, she said.

She said she likes the challenge of hitting the moving target.

"It's almost like competing against myself," she said.

I can relate to the "competing against myself" comment, that is what drives me to work harder at the range.

Patricia Natoli, of Maynard, has been shooting for more than 20 years.

She began shooting because her husband was a police officer.

"When I started shooting ... you didn't see women, like housewives, on the range," she said in a phone interview. "Now, you see a lot. The last three years, I've noticed a big change."

Part of the appeal is social, said Natoli, who now competes in single-action shooting, in which shooters dress up like cowboys and shoot with old-fashioned guns in play-acting scenarios.

"It's something I can do with my husband," she said.

I hope she is right about the number of women at the range increasing. There are a good number of women at the indoor ranges, and more are competing at the outdoor range. If Patricia is correct, this is a national trend, not just local.

Natoli, 51, works as a police dispatcher, and said she feels comfortable shooting around men.

Some women are nervous at first, but they loosen up quickly.

"There is no sexism on the range," she said.

Nell Vaughn, 50, of Royalston, said she surprised herself when she took up shooting.

She originally wanted to take archery, but no adult classes were available, so she enrolled in a pistol-shooting class.

Plus she figured that shooting was a good skill to have.

"I thought it would be a good idea to learn how to make a gun safe," she said in a phone interview.

And unexpectedly, she enjoyed the course for more than just its worst-case-scenario application.

"Bullseye is a very quiet, slow thing, it was much like meditation," she said. "You really become aware of how much your mind and body interact."

Vaughn said she enjoyed the required discipline and hand-eye coordination, which mirrored the skills she had honed playing Irish flute and violin.

There are a couple very interesting and good aspects to this article:

1. The more women that are seen involved with firearms, the more women will want to try out shooting. The more women involved with shooting, the more gun rights activist are on our side.

2. This article was written in a Massachusetts newspaper, the Sentines & Enterprise of Fitchburg, MA. The entire article was written about women with firearms in a positive light, a rare occurrence.

There is one paragraph in the article that we all need to take to heart:

"Women have been turned off by guns, mainly because of some of the good old boy antics of men, who tried to make it an exclusive-type thing"

Take a friend shooting, show them a safe and fun time. The more shooters we have, the less ears for the Brady Bunch.

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