Husband has always had a “collection” of firearms, both rifle and hand guns. I have always been intimidated by them. I have occasionally been out shooting with Husband where he has hammered into me countless safety rules. Knowing all those safety rules, for some reason, did not make me less afraid. I wanted to get over my fear so way back in 2002, I took a lady’s hand gun class at a local gun range. The two things I remember most about the class:
- How important it is to know when you can fire your weapon and when you can’t. You just can’t shoot somebody because they are stealing your stuff.
- How confident I felt after shooting my firearm by the end of the second night.
Because I did not continue to practice, that confidence quickly faded away.
In 2013, I did not like how things were going politically in our country so thought it would be a “good idea” to get a concealed weapons permit. Never mind that I rarely picked up any kind of firearm, not to mention my knowledge base on them was zip. Never the less, that permit rested quietly in my wallet for the next 3 years.
When 2016 rolled around, I became heavily emerged in emergency preparedness. For me, that didn’t just mean more food in my pantry, it included safety and protection. Which meant I would need to revisit firearms. Which meant conquering that fear all over again.
I started out by firing the different hand guns husband has in all the different calibers. We are lucky to live in a rural area where my family has built a shooting berm on our property. At first, I was so nervous, I would not shoot anything unless Husband was right beside me talking me through each step. Where is the safety on this gun? How do I put a bullet in the chamber? When did you say I have to cock it? How many bullets does this one shoot?
Learning everything I could on firearms became almost an obsession. I started learning about ammo by sorting Husband’s vast collection of it… which was scattered in various unlabeled bins and boxes everywhere. It drove me crazy watching him trying to find the right ammo when he wanted to go out to shoot. If I could organize the stars in the sky into boxes with color coded labels, I would. Instead, I took on the job of organizing his ammo. I bought tons of ammo boxes and labeled them with the different calibers, as well as what fire arm they were to be used in. This helped me learn the different calibers, as well as the fire arms. I also asked Husband a ton of questions: Why would you use a hollow point bullet? What’s the difference between center fire and rim fire? What is the best caliber for self defense verses hunting verses target practice? I’m still asking questions.
So far, I had determined I wanted a semi-automatic rather than a revolver, simply because they are typically thinner and easier to conceal. I wanted a 9 mm. as it would give me enough self defense power without a horrible kick. I wanted one that was light enough that I could carry it all day without feeling like I had a 10 lb. weight hanging on my hip. With those decisions made, I hit the internet for more information. I found The Well Armed Women website and noted their list of top 10 handguns purchased by women. I researched holsters, drawing techniques, ammo and handgun comparison studies.
My last step was to go to different gun stores to actually handle each gun to feel which ones felt good in my hand. I narrowed down my decision between the Rugar LC9 and the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. The Shield won out.
Even though I had just saved for and purchased my very first firearm, I was not ready to “carry” yet, at least out in public. I wanted more practice and training first. My first holster was a inside the waist Kydex holster that just didn’t work with the belt less pants I wear. My next choice was a belly band that worked well. I wore my firearm on me at home, from morning to night, for weeks, unloaded, just to get use to it on me. I went out to our shooting berm, even without Husband, and practiced. (We shoot up anything that no longer works…coffee grinders, toaster ovens, etc. The rule is you have to clean up everything you shoot.) Husband purchased a membership for me at a gun club, and I practiced there as well.
I was taking baby steps here. I finally got to the point were I wore my empty clipped S & W out in public, just to build my confidence. With more practice came more confidence. I actually started carrying around that firearm with a loaded clip in it. I still felt I needed some professional training so took a one on one class at the gun club. It was the best thing I ever did and it filled in all the pieces of info I felt I had been missing.
I have since upgraded to a modular holster that combines a bellyband with a Kydex holster which makes holstering and unholstering easier. I practice at least once every 2 weeks. I have learned to clean my own firearm. And most of all, through consistent practice, I have developed confidence.