By way of background, back when I went with Guypal to that big show in 2007, I came across a table where there was a lady with a book and some flyers. It was something called "Babes With Bullets". Apparently, there was this group of professional women shooters who would get together for a camp somewhere and teach other women to shoot. What a fantastic idea! But at the time, I knew nothing about firearms, I was a divorced mom in medical training, and something like this was not even on my radar.... yet.
Remember that first IDPA Match that I
just talked about - the one that really lit my fire? Well, that turned
out to be the last match of the season (insert heavy disappointment
music - Wah, wah, waaahhhh). I was so fired up, but I was going to have
to wait until the following Spring to get another fix. So, during this
time period, I searched for, and found a deer rifle and went to the
family deer camp for the very first time in my life -- but that is
fodder for another story on another day. A long, cold winter was
looming, and after Deer Camp, the internet was my only solace.
I decided to Google Babes With Bullets
again. Unfortunately, due to various family commitments, I was unable
to attend camp on any of the dates they had available. Thus, I contented
myself with watching their videos. Which I did - all winter long. As it
turned out, I had yet another long cold winter under my belt before I
would be able to attend a camp.
Meanwhile, I continued to shoot
mostly by myself, with the occasional monthly match tossed in, where
there were on average two other women besides myself. Sometimes it was
just me. I was essentially the only woman in any of my circles for whom
firearms was a hobby. I was a bit of a "weirdo" in that respect.
Fortunately, all the men I shot with were very supportive. I learned
something new from the RO's at virtually every match I attended. They
were all my "teachers", and I continue to be deeply grateful for that.
They never made me feel like I didn't belong.
By the middle of the SECOND long winter without shooting, I had found "Babes" videos on OutdoorChannel dot com too!
was becoming an internet "stalker" of sorts, and I finally emailed Camp
Director Deb Ferns about it. She sent me a very gracious email in
return and encouraged me to try really hard to get to camp. Turns out
that the camp in April in Louisiana was going to fit my schedule
perfectly! I just had to figure out how to get there.
how to fly with my pistol was a whole other experience that I won't
bore you with here, but it did put another roadblock of anxiety in my
way that I had to overcome. Suffice to say that the experience did not
live up to my fears, and I arrived safely at Kay Miculek's home range in
Louisiana on a beautiful Spring afternoon in 2011.
was... well, it was pretty much as Deb Ferns describes it, "Part
adventure camp, part pajama party, and part firearms training". Campers
eat together, and bunk together for the better part of 3 days, so there
is a bonding that happens that allows a great deal of emotional support
during the firearms learning curve. For many women, this is the
essential ingredient that helps it all gel. It also keeps them coming
back for more camps - and bringing their friends/daughters/coworkers
with them. If you have never attended a shooting event where the
participants clap, cheer, hug, and "woo hoo" for eachother, then you haven't
This particular camp was the first time that
they offered pistol and rifle training together. Thus, this is where I
was re-introduced to my previous casual acquaintance the "Evil Black
Rifle". Since I had essentially "self-taught" my deer rifle by this
point, (again, another story), I was grateful for some in-person long
gun training, and a chance to get to know the AR-15 style platform.
out, it was a great deal less intimidating that I had feared. The
AR-15 is in fact, quite female-friendly. The adjustable stock made it
easy to adjust to my short arms (unlike my deer rifle). It was also a
smaller caliber than my deer rifle, so it didn't pound my shoulder like I
had become accustomed. It was also lighter weight and easier to handle
than my wooden lever gun. To top it off, the camp had loaners from Smith
& Wesson in not only the usual .223 caliber, but also the .22LR
caliber which was even lighter and easier to handle for beginners. I
could not have been prouder of those little holes that I punched in my
Throughout the entire three days, I got great
instruction from the likes of Kay Miculek, Lisa Munson, Annette Aysen,
and Sheila Brey. Yep, me - a "nobody" - had the Greats of Women's
Shooting standing at my shoulder and giving me encouragement. It was
All of this was just a wonderful experience for me,
but the thing that topped it all off and almost made me cry (Okay, DID
make me cry) was that amongst these Ladies, I was NOT A WEIRDO!! I
cannot express to you what a feeling that was, to be surrounded by other
women who enjoyed shooting! For the first time in the nearly two years
since I had bought my first firearm, I was NOT standing out in the crowd
as the only female - I was SURROUNDED by females! In fact, I think the
only man around for miles, was the shooting legend Jerry Miculek, and
that's just because he lived there. For the duration of that camp, the
great Jerry M. was relegated to hauling benches, setting stages, and
snaking the septic line after the ladies clogged it up. It was
completely surreal, and an experience I will NEVER forget!