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Old January 28, 2015, 10:34 AM   #1
Kimio
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Women & firearms training. some questions for the ladies.

Admittedly I'm a little hesitant a out asking this question. Let me preface this by saying that I don't believe women are ant less capable than men when it comes to shooting and shooting accurately.

Quite the contrary, I have nothing but respect for our sisters in arms who celebrate and enjoy the art of firearms marksmanship.

With that out of the way, I have always approached introduction to firearms with my female friends the same way I would with any male friend. Starting new comers to the world of shooting with the typical suspects, a nice little .22LR or some flavor to ease them in as easily as possible, doubling up on hearing protection and trying to pick an outdoor range, away from the bigger caliber guns when we're at the bench. On top of all this, all the basic rules of firearms safety etc.

However, I'm curious if there are indeed some female specific traits that I should remain mindful of when introducing a female shooter to firearms. Most women I've Introduced either take to it immediately or are a bit hesitant. Subtle differences between male shooters and female shooters were pointed out to me by a female range officer one time, noting how my friend holds all her stress in her shoulders, stating that typically this is something women do. That they hold their tension and anxieties up in their shoulders, which adversely affects their shooting.

I have no real reason to doubt her, but if this is true, it makes me wonder what else I may not be seeing when I try to help introduce newer shooters to the sport who happen to be female.

Pardon me if this is alienating anyone, that is not my intent here.
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Old January 28, 2015, 11:17 AM   #2
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This is only anecdotal experience,,,

This is only anecdotal experience,,,
But it might go with what you were told.

I take a lot of young men and women to the range,,,
The one tangible difference I have noticed is,,,
Women tend to lean their shoulders back.

I have a difficult time getting them to bend at the waist and lean forward.

Other than that I firmly believe they learn quicker than the guys,,,
They don't come to the range with any TV/movie induced ideas.

And they usually smell nicer.

Aarond

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Old January 28, 2015, 11:39 AM   #3
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I have a difficult time getting them to bend at the waist and lean forward.

Agreed. This is really the hardest part. When I ask ladies to lean forward, they seem to want to bend at the knee.
I'm not sure if it is a natural biological thing or if I'm just not good at explaining it.
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Old January 28, 2015, 12:04 PM   #4
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"Push the gun into in his belly."

That they understand... and can do... every time.
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Old January 28, 2015, 12:09 PM   #5
g.willikers
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Some of that bending backwards is due to fear of the gun.
They subconsciously want to get as far away from it as possible.
One way to help overcome it is to start them on the basics with something they don't fear.
Empty airguns seem to work well.
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Old January 28, 2015, 12:15 PM   #6
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www.corneredcat.com

That has a pretty comprehensive review of the issues by Pax.
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Old January 28, 2015, 12:17 PM   #7
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I've seen that many times. Funny thing is that many of them shoot a handgun better that way. I get to thinking since a mans center of mass is typically higher than a woman's It might actually be better that she does this a little

One young woman I taught had relatively larger hips, but not massive, and was of slight build above the waist. She would put her hips even or slightly forward and would do great, much better than if she took my stance.

My wife, who is smaller in the hips but very large topside actually gives up balance when she leans forward. Arms forward of the center line as are her breasts, it just doesn't work for her well.

Maybe in teaching women we make the mistake of attempting to force them into a mans mold. Women are built different then men (I think you've noticed that a few times) so their stance will also be different. I think if we are trying to push them into a mold and it's not working then we need to find a different thing.

When I lean forward I do not loose mobility, My wife does. In an SD situation mobility cannot be given second place. So in my wife's case if she is leaning forward as I would she has to recover her center of balance before she can move.
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Old January 28, 2015, 12:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aarondhgraham
...I have a difficult time getting them to bend at the waist and lean forward...
In our NRA Basic Handgun classes we find that is common with beginners -- both men and women.

Our classes run about 20% to 30% women. We recently had a class of all women -- ten friends who all signed up together. We seem to be successful with women because, although we all have a good deal of training ourselves (including a couple of POST certified instructors in out group), we avoid the tacticool and macho. We also have a couple of female instructors.
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Old January 28, 2015, 01:26 PM   #9
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"...Subtle differences between male shooters and female shooters..." Yep. Women pay attention and listen to what the instructor tells 'em and do it. Have no ego about shooting and generally are better shots than men.
Vs the guy(not always a young buck either) who thinks he's a "natural"(worst are the PC shoot-'em-up game players) and doesn't listen or pay attention because of that. Same guy who comes in with his lady also gets mad when she does out shoot him.
Everybody holds their tension and anxieties in their shoulders. It's why RMT's are so treasured.
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Old January 28, 2015, 03:44 PM   #10
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T. O'Heir, you just hit one of my personal little hot buttons. (Congrats! ) ... but it's off topic for the thread, so please excuse me for throwing a link at you and moving on. Happy to discuss it more, later, if you'd like. Anyway, the link: http://www.corneredcat.com/women-mak...en-or-do-they/

Oh, wait, one more thing before I do move on. I've worked with both men and women in formal, professional firearms training classes for more than a decade now -- teaching both coed classes and women only classes over the years. I would never say of my male students that they don't listen or aren't trying to listen. Sure, "that guy" does exist, but he's an exception rather than the rule. At least for students in classes I've taken and taught. (Maybe I've just been lucky.)

Kimio, those are good and important questions. Before even taking half a stab at answering them, let me first give you a list of things that all women have in common.
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .

That's about it.

One woman differs from another woman exactly as much as one man differs from another man. This might seem like an obvious statement, but sometimes we take shortcuts in conversation that let us pretend it isn't true. It's easier to assume that everyone fits in the middle of the curve than it is to constantly acknowledge the exceptions at both ends. But those exceptions are women, too -- and nobody likes being treated as a rule of thumb when they are in fact an individual. (I'm talking to myself, here, mostly -- since I'm about to use a bunch of glittering generalities!)

When you teach groups of women and also mixed groups of both sexes, you soon notice a few trends about the two types of groups. In a group of women on the range, there are some questions that always, or almost always, get asked -- and those same questions rarely get asked in a mixed group. Female students usually won't ask those questions of a male instructor, though they will pull another woman aside to ask these questions quietly in private. If the only other woman on the range is another student (or if the female instructor is at the other end of the line), they will ask the other student rather than asking the male instructor.

This leads me to glittering generality #1: if your student does not feel comfortable asking you an embarrassing question, you won't know it, because she simply won't ask you that question. So you'll need to either proactively address that subject without her asking, or decide that she can find that information from somewhere else.

These questions include (but are not limited to):
  • How can I safely use the bathroom while wearing my holstered gun?
  • My boob gets in the way when I draw. What should I do?
  • You know how you keep telling the people shooting Weaver stance to bring their elbows in (or point them at the ground rather than out to the side)? It makes me uncomfortable to do that.
  • How can I carry a gun in a holster on the belt when 90% of my pants don't even have belt loops?
  • What do you think about that bra holster my friend told me about?
  • My long fingernails are getting in the way, and you just told me I should trim them. We both know I'm not going to do that. How can I alter my grip on the gun to make my long fingernails less of a problem?

Because it's a critical safety concern, that first question on the list should be addressed every time you work with someone who expresses an interest in concealed carry -- male or female. But the guys won't ask anyone, ever (and if the subject comes up, they'll swear they never sit down except at home), and the gals won't ask in mixed groups. So you'll have to bring it up yourself.

Here's glittering generality #2: When you work with female students, most of them prefer to have someone use words -- sometimes a lot of words -- before the shooting starts. This is the opposite of how most guys seem to be wired; they seem to prefer to dive right into the doing and then hear an explanation of what just happened or how they can improve.

But that's a group dynamic. Any individual can fall on either side of that preference and if you the instructor get it wrong, you will have either frustrated students (you moved ahead too fast) or irritated ones (you moved ahead too slow). Best advice here is watch your student(s)' body language. Adjust your speed to fit the person.

Glittering generality #3: All things being equal, a group of female students will usually shoot slower but more accurately than a group of male students. (Also, all things being equal, both types of student will believe they're doing it better and making better choices than the other type. )

So: challenge your slow shooting students to push the speed limits as soon as they know how to work a trigger. Challenge your fast shooting students to push the accuracy limits once they've proved to themselves (and you) that they can go fast.

More glittering generalities.
  • Women often have smaller hands than men, but not always. Be prepared to explain gun/hand fitting dynamics to every student no matter what their hand size.
  • Women often need better instruction in running the slide than the guys do. That's because guys can often get away with a less efficient technique.
  • Some women may be afraid of hurting the gun when they rack the slide. Address this as a general principle rather than waiting until she either asks about it or it's obviously a problem.
  • Many women have no trouble racking the slide, but struggle to lock the action open. Be prepared to address this challenge -- and consider how to address it for those with longer fingernails.
  • For women, holster choices aren't just about the holster. It often hits pretty close to home with body image issues. Tread carefully here. Also: her clothes are not like your clothes. Most of her clothing doesn't have belt loops, doesn't have good pockets, is designed to cling to curves (and thus won't conceal the lump of a firearm), and fits more tightly than most of your clothes.
  • Hot brass problems happen more often to women, but every student needs to know what to do if a piece of brass gets into their clothing (or eyewear!) and starts to burn. It's not about avoiding a little blister; it's about avoiding a bullet hole. Wearing a high collar shirt to the range helps, but it sure isn't the end of that story.

There's probably a ton more. Here's an article I wrote awhile back about why women-only classes work well even for experienced shooters. It's not 100% on topic for exactly what you asked, but you might find more to think about there.

pax,

Kathy

ps -- Your friend was right about the shoulder tension. You can see it when you're looking at a group of students from behind the line: some will have tense shoulders, some won't. Some will be tense, but in a good way or only while they're shooting. The ones that never relax their shoulders may also have trouble shooting well, but more than that, it's a safety issue, because unrelieved tension impairs good blood flow to the brain. They'll end up with bad headaches and fatigued, blurry thinking much sooner than the more relaxed students. Something to watch as the day goes on.
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Old January 28, 2015, 04:06 PM   #11
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The shocking truth --- men and women are different !!
You might check out the books on the subject by Vickie Farnam on how to teach women to shoot .
Problem is that they might shoot better than you guys if properly taught ! I remember a 5'2" light weight who did at least as well as the average guy at metallic silhouette.
If you and your wife shoot , NEVER compete with her !
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Old January 28, 2015, 05:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
I take a lot of young men and women to the range,,,
The one tangible difference I have noticed is,,,
Women tend to lean their shoulders back.

I have a difficult time getting them to bend at the waist and lean forward.
I find little kids do it, too ..... and they do it with both long guns and pistols. The reason little kids do it is because they lack the upper body strength to lean forward and hold the gun steady out in front of their body.... it's tiring. They compensate by leaning back, so the gun is not out there so far .... but it is really bad technique ...... when they are already leaning back, recoil has already gone the first step to tipping them right on over.....
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Old January 28, 2015, 07:49 PM   #13
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I appreciate all the comments.

A special shout out to Pax, your post was extremely insightful and informative. I'm actually still working my way through reading your website, and find the information invaluable.

Hopefully I can put all this into practice and effectively communicate such things to anyone I happen to be introducing to the world of firearms. There are many things that I didn't really consider, for example the longer nails bit. (most of my female friends don't have long nails actually)

I likely would not have thought about it if you had not brought that up. Provided that all things go well, hopefully I'll someday be able to count myself among those who help guide new shooters (safely) into the world of firearms and so on.

I have much to learn, or so it seems.
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Old January 29, 2015, 12:36 AM   #14
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I would like to reiterate a point that Kathy made. She made a lot of points, but I want to really stress this one:

There are differences between average men and average women... But the difference between any two women can be much greater than the differences between average men and average women... just like the difference between any two men can be greater.

Thus, many generalities are fairly useless. example would be hand size. About 1 in 10 men will have small hands, and about 1 in 4 women will have small hands... so you better know how to instruct people with small hands regardless of your class gender. The example I used is a physical characteristic, but mental / attitudinal characteristics are the more important. And here especially, you just can not rely on generalities.
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Old January 29, 2015, 09:01 AM   #15
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I've been a firearms instructor for about 40 years. LE Instructor, Military and Civilian. Competition to Defense with LE and Military Sniper Instructor.

To include coaching the AK NG Marksmanship Teams, I've seen them all. I've banned people from ranges, even physically thumped a couple for their unsafe acts.

Girls are easier to teach, they don't have the pre-conceived egos guys have.

They have better hand and eye coordination.

Men - woman - boys - girls, they are not all built the same, there is no one position or method that fits everyone. Some have disabilities that must be addressed.

As Gary Anderson says, THERE ARE NO HOPELESS SHOOTERS. There are problem instructors who refuse to adapt.

I have found out, never let husbands or boyfriends attend the same class as their wives/girlfriends.

I'm a more then fair rifle instructor. My wife wanted me to give her lessons in long range precision shooting to improve her long range hunting. In stead I'm signing her up for some other long range hunting school across the state and I'm staying home.

Yes woman are different, men are different too. You don't change them you adjust your instruction to fit them.

An example: Just about all precision rifle shooters will tell you to get flat, on your belly behind the rifle. That may and may not work for you. It wont work for my wife. He had her back broken and had three rods behind her shoulder blades. She cannot lay flat on her stomach and raise her head to see the sights.

She can lay on her side, cock her right leg up for balance and look through the sights/scope without having to hold her head up.

The same position works with those of us who have gotten thicker through the middle, getting the weight off our diaphragm.

We as instructors shouldn't adjust the student to our method of shooting, but should adjust our instructions to fit the build/shape/disabilities of the student.

As to Defensive shooting, Woman or Man, there is no set way to hold the body, you need to learn to shoot, laying on the ground, setting in a recliner, setting seat belted in a car, carrying toddlers, pushing baby carriages.

None of spend 24/7 in a gun fighter's stance.

Quote:
noting how my friend holds all her stress in her shoulders, stating that typically this is something women do. That they hold their tension and anxieties up in their shoulders, which adversely affects their shooting.
No it doesn't adversely affect their shooting, it affects you instruction. Keeping safety in mind of course, work with the person you have, don't make them work to your concept of how things should be.

And that's not just woman, its men, its boys and its girls. No two people are built the same.

Again, in dealing with SD firearms training, no incident is the same, so training should never be from a set shooting stance.
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Old January 30, 2015, 11:03 AM   #16
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Quote:
This is only anecdotal experience,,,
But it might go with what you were told.

I take a lot of young men and women to the range,,,
The one tangible difference I have noticed is,,,
Women tend to lean their shoulders back.

I have a difficult time getting them to bend at the waist and lean forward.

Other than that I firmly believe they learn quicker than the guys,,,
They don't come to the range with any TV/movie induced ideas.

And they usually smell nicer.

Aarond
I guess I shoot like a girl.
Is it bad to lean back?
When shooting my rifle from the standing, I lean back as well.
It feels more natural to me and requires less muscle.

I do lean a little forward while shooting my pistol though.
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Old January 30, 2015, 11:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rainydayshooter
...Is it bad to lean back?...
It's a weaker and less balanced position that hinders effective recoil management.
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Old January 30, 2015, 11:39 AM   #18
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In the 24 years I taught Security and Police Officers to shoot Pistols, I had very little trouble teaching shooting from the holster, and going aggressive with the two handed firing of their duty firearm, with the female hire.

Possibly because of the nature of the job they were going into? Not sure, but prior to touching a handgun, body stance was addressed, as in a combative stance, as in a boxing stance? And maybe as all shots were from the duty holster? Not sure. As the duty firearm was a S&W Mod 65 revolver, the double action effort in it's self, caused a very strong grip of the gun, aggression seemed to flow forward naturally.

If I now have a female student, I describe the body stance as imagine pushing a car, lean into it, works.
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Old January 30, 2015, 12:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Quote:
I have a difficult time getting them to bend at the waist and lean forward.
Agreed. This is really the hardest part. When I ask ladies to lean forward, they seem to want to bend at the knee.
I'm not sure if it is a natural biological thing or if I'm just not good at explaining it.
The way it was taught to me and my wife (by a female instructor) was to stick your butt out. Doing that tends to keep the back and legs straighter, and the top half will naturally lean forward to counterbalance.

First attempts at this instruction may not always yield the ideal stance, but it sets them on the right path and it's definitely entertaining! And if you can make people laugh then they relax, which is a good thing.
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Old February 1, 2015, 03:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Is it bad to lean back?
When shooting my rifle from the standing, I lean back as well.
It feels more natural to me and requires less muscle.
Depends upon what it is you are doing...... the NRA High-Power folks will tell you that that's a good, balanced, accurate stance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzrp...22579428#t=163


If you try that same stance with a 7lb .308 scoped bolt action hunting rifle, it'll cut you a new eyebrow and separate your shoulder.
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Old February 1, 2015, 04:09 PM   #21
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re: NRA High-Power standing position

For my purposes (and my kids'), using this could lead to bad habits that may result in injury..... it really irks me to see this taught in Hunter Ed. classes.
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Old February 1, 2015, 06:20 PM   #22
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Jimbob, that stance looks awkward as all gets out, I'm still learning how to shoot, but may I ask what exactly are they achieving by holding the rifle that way?

It looks like it would dislocate your shoulder if done wrong just looking at it.
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Old February 1, 2015, 06:23 PM   #23
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Those are AR-15s -- 223 Remington.
You could hold it against your nose (cough, cough) with little damage.
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Old February 2, 2015, 09:17 AM   #24
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interesting video.

I have always leaned back some when focusing on slow shots, often rocking back with the recoil onto one leg, then let my weight plant it back like a statue rocking back and forth.

If I'm doing double taps or fast semi auto shots then I lean into it. I haven't instructed anyone in a very long time, and I know I wasn't instructed like this but adapted it and have been for a decade now so might be difficult to break. I think I needed a refresher on the standing though.
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Old February 2, 2015, 11:18 AM   #25
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Kimio --- Google: "Skeletal {bone} support in rifle shooting and photography," which is a YouTube video

"The tactical position is very hard to keep in position for a long period of time. You use the standing shooting position in order not to get you fatigued."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11HE5Viuuw


http://www.accurateshooter.com/shoot...nding-position
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