Once upon a time, God made the world, and in that creation story, Eve was painted as the one handing out food to the menfolk.
It all went to hell in a handbasket from there. First, women doled out the apples; now, it’s sandwiches. Well, I’m here to tell you that men can pick their own apples and make their own sandwiches!
Traditionally, going to the shooting range has been a guy thing. Guns are masculine; women are feminine. Apparently, so are sandwiches … but men like to eat them.
I’m here to tell you ladies that you can let men make their own sandwiches. Or, at least make one for yourself and tell them to pass the 9mm—because you’re going to the range, too. That’s right; invite yourself, even if you’ve never gone before and don’t find it interesting. Go do it!
Husbands, fathers and boyfriends: Pay attention, because what I’m telling your gal to do is take interest in your hobby; and even if they don’t plan to do this all the time, it’s a good thing. How does their range time benefit you? Well, grab a sandwich, and read on.
Familiarity breeds confidence: Become confident with firearms. I’m not saying you have to be Annie Oakley, but you can learn how to properly hold and shoot a gun, as well as load, unload and check if the chamber is empty on every gun you or your husband/boyfriend/family owns.
Being confident with your home-defense guns is a worthy goal, so that if they are called upon, you know you can safely handle and use them. You also might need to clear your gun or your significant other’s gun, and knowing basic principles of firearms safety and handling them will give you confidence.
I’ve heard stories from women who were not raised around firearms—how they didn’t know how to check if a gun was unloaded and had to wait for their significant other to get home. Nobody wants that situation. We need to be teaching our daughters firearms safety so they grow into women who are capable and informed.
If we equate it to driving a car, it would be like not checking the oil because you thought you might blow the car up. We females operate life-threatening motor vehicles on a daily basis, and somehow, we survive. Guns are machines, too, and much less complex. It’s insulting to think that you can’t understand, master and have confidence in handling a firearm. (It’s also more fun to clean guns than make sandwiches.)
CONFIDENCE IS KEY
Being confident is one of the pieces of the puzzle, but there are also literal keys to the firearms puzzle. Most gun owners have a safe, and knowing how to access the firearms inside is an important piece of the puzzle. So, knowing the basics of how to access the guns in your household, how to load, unload, shoot and handle them is going to make you more confident. In addition, your home will be a safer place.
Every trip to the range generally involves retrieving guns from a safe, finding ammo, shooting, cleaning and putting away the firearms. It is a cycle of what, where and how that needs to become automatic should you ever need to gain access to a firearm. So, repetition is good. And going to the range becomes a small way of preparing yourself for what to do if you need to access a gun.
This is also another step in educating our daughters about keeping themselves and their future families safe. If we raise girls, with regular trips to the range being a family activity, we’ll be helping to form more wives and mothers supportive of regular trips to the range.
Your goal should be a gun that’s easy to manipulate and that is simple in its function.
USE A RECIPE AND THE BEST INGREDIENTS
Just like laying out your sandwich ingredients and knowing what’s in the fridge, you need to know what’s in the gun safe and how it’s used. Gathering the “ingredients” and packing for the range is just the first step. Now, you need to add the pickle and hold the lettuce: Besides reviewing the four cardinal rules of gun safety and before you head to the range, check out a few YouTube tutorials on shooting basics. Maybe you do rifle one week, pistol the next and shotgun the third.
That is what I actually recommend for new shooters, because rifles are easier to control on a range, and there is less danger of a rifle being picked up and pointed in the wrong direction. Shooting a .22 rifle off a rest or bags is a very easy way to introduce someone who’s not used to guns to the principles of shooting, such as sight alignment and trigger control. Once those skills are mastered, bringing pistols and shotguns into the mix is easier.
Want to get your woman to the range? Include her, make her feel welcome, take it slow and show her what and why you love shooting and guns. If she sees the parts of it that you enjoy and can take some of that enjoyment home with her, you’ll probably meet much less resistance the next time you plan a gun purchase.
Again, I’ll tie this back into the sandwich metaphor: Everyone can make themselves a sandwich the way they like; there’s no one “right” recipe. And ladies, find your own ingredients. Maybe you want to get an adjustable buttstock on your AR15 so you can get a proper cheek weld and hold the rifle correctly.
This leads us to the next big issue: size.
BIGGER ISN’T BETTER … EXCEPT WHEN IT IS
While everyone likes a big sandwich, we all know what it’s like to bite off more than we can chew. So, guys, don’t give your girlfriend a .357 and think it will be funny to watch her freak out over the recoil. Be responsible, and get her set up right with a safe experience shooting.
If you want her to come to the range again, you need to make sure she enjoys it. If you have a 10/22 or something to teach basic skills with, start there. If you keep safety and a positive experience as your primary goals, the odds are that you’re going to have someone who enjoys spending the afternoon at the range more than you anticipated. This also rings true for teaching daughters: Find a gun that’s not intimidating, and let them enjoy it!
Conversely, don’t think you need a tiny gun to be able to shoot, ladies. Shooting well is about understanding the platform (the firearm) and implementing the basic skills used to control the firearm and shoot it.
Getting a “cute, little gun” or accessorizing is not the goal. Get something that runs no matter what; a gun that is safe and easy to manipulate and that can do its job. It should have a slide long enough to teach someone with less hand strength proper ways to rack the slide (small pistols can actually be more difficult to work with).
Trying to find the smallest gun, whether for concealed carry or home- defense, shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be a gun that’s easy to manipulate and that is simple in its function.
Again, let’s go back to the sandwich: Cucumber sandwiches might be cute, but they’re not going to hold up when you’re really hungry. You need a full-sized grilled cheese or maybe even a sub sandwich.
IF YOU GIVE A GUY A SAMMICH
If you give a guy a sandwich, you just satisfy his hunger until you bring him the next sandwich. But if you teach him to make his own sandwich, he’s going to be able to feed himself and live longer.
And guys, the same goes for women. If you help them shoot a gun while standing behind them and loading it for them, they’re only going to be able to do it with you there. However, if you teach them how to load, unload, handle and use the guns, they’re going to be able to shoot, clean your guns—and maybe even make you a sandwich. The Bible tells us that guys will basically take food from the devil, himself, if a woman is holding it, so a woman armed with a gun—and bringing some sandwiches—is probably going to be most guys’ vision of paradise.
About the Author: Author Becky Yackley competes in action shooting (3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi and IPSC) with her husband and three sons. When she isn’t shooting matches or writing, she is busy with her camera. Becky is the founder of the 2A Heritage Junior shooting camps and works in social media for several firearms industry companies.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the June 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.