What is SAW? Thoughts on all female training

When I first started shooting about five years ago, I rarely encountered women at the range shooting alone.  I encountered women with a boyfriend, or husband, but rarely if ever did I see a woman by herself.  How that has changed in the last five years!  As I became more involved in shooting sports and began taking tactical and instructor classes, the ratio of men to women in those classes still seemed to be however many men had registered … and then one woman … me.  I went on to take classes in various other self-defense disciplines and I encountered perhaps a few more female participants, but women were always in the minority.

Was it sometimes uncomfortable to be the only female in a class of ten, fifteen even 50 men?  You bet it was.  (I took this Simunition teaser class as the lone female with 50 men at Gun For Hire.) But that wasn’t going to stop me, and in fact I firmly believe, it actually helped me. Part of taking an advanced class, one where you have to react and interact with those around you, is predicated on bringing the student out of her comfort zone.  The circumstances that will surround an individual having to draw her gun and perhaps use it, will undoubtedly take place under stress.  I had a jump start on feeling that way as I was already out of my comfort zone the minute I walked into the range with twelve men as my fellow students.

But as much as I enjoyed having the ladies room to myself during the class breaks, there were those times that I hoped I would walk in and there may be one other female there.  And there were moments like the time when the instructor told us to fill our pockets with thirty rounds of loose ammo, and my pockets were, well, too small.  Women’s fashion does not usually include large or multiple pockets (and just try to find a pair of tactical pants in a size 0).  It was awkward moments like that one, where it would have been nice to have someone who could understand.

When I took the low light pistol class, I was already used to being the only female in the class, already past the discomfort, already feeling like “one of the guys” but when I walked into the range this time Sandy was in the class too.  As we holstered up, and started to chat it turned out Sandy had just had a baby.  It was nice to be able to talk to someone else about tactical gear and how it fits on a woman’s body!

Although it didn’t happen right away, that was the beginning of the Second Amendment Women Shooting Club.  The idea that a woman can have other women to go to for an introduction to shooting, to find more advanced training, to be able to talk to about all topics firearms such as shooting, how to find gear that fits a female body and finding the time to shoot when you are already an active and involved mother and wife and so on – that was the basis for founding Second Amendment Women Shooting Club.  As well as the need to create a strong female presence in the shooting community, to show that there are many women and mothers out there, who are not asking for more gun control, but are advocating for the right to continue to protect their children and families.

One of the things Sandy and I both feel strongly about, is that while it is fantastic to have a group of women to socialize and train with, it is not a good idea to ONLY train with other women.  Whatever self-defense discipline you are training with – pistol, pepper spray, krav maga etc a woman is many times more likely to encounter a male attacker than a female one. If you have only trained with other women, you don’t know how it feels to be approached by a larger, male aggressor, to be intimidated by him, and then to injure him or knock him down and create an opportunity to escape, using what you have learned in the classes you have taken.

In the words of a popular quote used by shooting instructors, in a moment of crisis, you will not rise to the occasion, but merely default to your level of training. If your training does not include practice with the type of aggressor you will likely encounter, then your training has not served you in the best capacity. If a class full of other women with a female instructor allows a woman to show up for the first time, learn to shoot, be comfortable asking questions then Second Amendment Women Shooting Club is doing its job by organizing those classes and making those opportunities available.  But if we don’t go on from there and invite men to train with us and share their knowledge and experience, then Sandy and I have left our members at a disadvantage.

This is the reason the SAW club will have events that include men, like our gun cleaning and holster shows.  We will have all female events like the upcoming Introduction to IDPA (June 1) that allows a class full of women to get comfortable using a holster.  And we will continue to plan monthly social open shoots both for women only and for men/women.  Hope to see you all there!


Teach Your Daughters to Shoot…


Because a restraining order is just a piece of paper.

In response to his recent statement on gun control laws,  “You’ve got to wear them down until they finally say, ‘Enough’.“  I have this to say –  Mr. Bloomberg, I will never say ‘Enough’!

You are one hundred percent correct however, when it comes to issues of public health and safety, I too, will not back down.  I will continue to fight to be able to protect my children, in the manner I choose, one afforded to me by the Constitution of the country I pledge allegiance to.

As a woman, a mother, a social worker and a gun owner I understand the importance of safeguarding the right to own firearms for self-defense.  As a firearms instructor, I know that those who legally own guns, comprise some of the safest guardians of public health and safety in the country.  Gun owners do not seek gun battles, in fact it is unlikely someone would ever have cause to randomly draw their gun.  Gun owners are more aware of their surroundings and the responsibility that goes along with carrying a gun, but they are also ready to protect the lives of others, including those they do not know.  I would rather see guns protecting my children in school than a posted sign declaring it’s a “gun free” zone, because I am keenly aware of how well criminals follow laws, even ones posted on a nicely worded sign.

If the goal is to create a safer environment for our children to grow up in, a safer place for women to stand on equal footing with a domestic aggressor, than look no further than the population of law abiding gun owners in the US.

We all know that evil cannot be “banned”, you cannot remove all risk, but you will remove all means for me to successfully counter that risk – leaving my children vulnerable.  The women you will enlist to be the face of your gun control initiatives do not represent the large and growing population of women and mothers, like me, who will stand up and fight for the Second Amendment. That is, if you allow us to be heard.

I abhor the suggestion that taking guns out of the hands of legal gun owners will somehow make domestic violence deaths disappear.  The psychology of a domestic aggressor does not change based on the tools available to him. Taking the gun out of the hands of the potential victim, does not mean the aggressor will no longer have a means to abuse or kill the victim.  You have only guaranteed that the victim will never be able to equalize the disparity of strength and power between herself and her tormentor, and it will be abundantly clear, in fact, it will wipe away all doubt in the mind of the abuser, who enjoys seeing his victim as powerless and completely under his control.

This woman can easily die the same death being thrown down a flight of stairs as she would have if she had been shot.  But what if she had the means at her disposal to defend herself effectively? A 100 pound woman cannot likely throw a 200 pound male down a flight of stairs, or into a wall, but she can pull the trigger of a gun – her gun.  We should empower those who wish to help themselves instead of removing their ability to feel confident.

Instead of stripping the people of any means of self-defense, choose to maintain and strengthen the balance of power.  Abolish the absurdity of “gun free” zones, and allow citizens across the country to walk confidently.

Mr. Bloomberg, do not hide behind the protection of the women and mothers you will send door to door peddling the misnomer that “safety” only comes when all guns are be taken out of the hands of law abiding Americans.  They are smarter than that, you, Mr. Bloomberg are smarter than that too.  And gun owners, we are certainly smarter than that and we will never say ‘Enough’.

As a social worker and certified firearms instructor, I pledge to continue to educate men, women and children with the proper knowledge, skills and attitude to be responsible gun owners.   As part of my commitment to do my part for gun safe “everytowns” across the United States, and to empower and foster confident and safe women and mothers, I will pledge to always teach victims of domestic violence to shoot free of charge. – SS