View Full Version : Teaching Ladies

February 1, 2009, 09:11 AM
"In teaching ladies defensive pistolcraft I find that quicker progress is made in the thumb-cocking mode." Col. Jeff Cooper. The quote is taken from Jeff Coopers Comnentaries, Vol. 3, No. 10, Dog Days, 1995. Pax, you might want to give this some thought. orchidhunter

Marty Hayes
February 1, 2009, 12:36 PM
Well, I am not PAX, but I have a little experience teaching the fairer sex. having said that, Cooper was hampered by teaching in an era where there were very few good guns for small handed women. Nowadays, that is not an issue.

February 1, 2009, 01:03 PM
MH, " Cooper was hampered by teaching in an era where there were very few good guns for small handed women" the S&W J frame is a good gun for small handed women, and was around in that era, in fact it might be the best there is for small handed women. In the article the quote come from Col. Cooper was speaking of a S&W J frame Model 640. orchidhunter

February 2, 2009, 09:34 PM
That might be a problem for me if I thought Jeff Cooper was God.

Since I don't, it's not.


February 3, 2009, 06:44 AM
Well said, Pax. Never been one to follow strict doctrines, myself.

On the j-frame issue, my wife handled one once and found it very difficult to reach and pull the trigger in double action. Not that she couldn't learn, I'm sure, with a bit of training, but that was the reason she didn't like it. But then, her hands are really small.


February 3, 2009, 06:48 AM
Pax. +1 for making me laugh with the truth. :D

February 3, 2009, 09:40 AM
In my LE Firearm Instructor days and coaching the NG Compat Pistol team I discovered woman are just like men, they are all differant, and being differant they may or may not require differant styles.

I found it best to introduce every shooting style possible, then help them work on one that suits them.

Glenn E. Meyer
February 3, 2009, 09:55 AM
I liked Vicki Farnam's lecture on teaching women and the amusing view she has of the male 'experts' recommendations or even worse the significant other male chosing the gun for the 'lady'.

I remember some guy getting all huffy because the 'lady' didn't appreciate the subcompact 1911, he chose for her as the ultimate stopper.

February 3, 2009, 10:50 AM

I've never had the joy of hearing Vicki's lecture on that subject in person. Wish I could!

Backstory to this thread for those who didn't know it: on another thread in the Revolver forum, http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=334966, a member asked what he should do about his girlfriend's inability to pull the trigger more than once on the SP101 he'd bought her. On that thread, I engaged in a little Crazy Talk by suggesting that perhaps he should not have purchased a firearm for her without her even trying it on to discover little things like that (silly of me, I know). Then I suggested that she could build up her hand strength by using a Gripmaster and by regular practice, but that she'd probably be best served to change to a semi-auto, which is much easier to run for someone with weak hands. Someone else on that thread said she should just use the gun in SA mode, cocking it each time. I said that's not a great idea for a defense gun, and listed four reasons for that. Orchidhunter then posted the quote you see above, the appeal to authority.

Since he provided no additional argument other than the simple appeal to authority, there wasn't anything to discuss so I didn't post in the thread again. Apparently he thought I hadn't seen it, or wanted a response, so he came into the T&T forum to start this thread about "Teaching Ladies."

There were few men of Cooper's era who were capable of taking females seriously as students of defensive pistolcraft, and Cooper (may he rest in peace!) was not among them. He was, for good or ill, a product of his times.

One of my mentors is the best instructor I know, for men or for women. This man is an excellent instructor precisely because he does take his students seriously. Even when teaching children, he does not treat them as junior mascots on the range, but as intelligent people who are serious about learning to shoot -- and he gives adults, including adult females, even more respect. From him I've learned that my students need and deserve to be treated as if they are serious about learning to shoot and about defending their lives with a firearm.

For myself, I will not teach a sub-optimal technique to my students. If an accomodation needs to be made (and sometimes it does), I will discuss the reasons for the accomodation and I will explain exactly what trade offs are being made, what they're giving up and what they're getting in return. I will not sugarcoat the issues and I won't treat them as if they're minor children incapable of understanding the point and making their own decision, or as if they're incurious and uninterested in learning what they need to know and should instead just be told what to do.

Contrast this with the advice soooo often given to women. A woman's introduction to firearms often starts out like this: "Oh, you want a revolver. You won't have to learn how to ..." Or maybe it starts like this, "Oh, you should get a shotgun. You won't have to learn to aim ..." Or it starts like this, "Oh, get a Glock. You won't have to learn a lot of ..." Seen the common denominator yet? You won't have to learn. That's pure and unadulterated crap -- and it's even more disconcerting and depressing when it's an "instructor" saying or implying such things to her or about her. How did she get into a firearms class, if she wasn't interested in learning? How and why did she purchase a defensive firearm, if she doesn't want to know anything about how to defend herself? Even if her significant other "made her" get the gun, she's still an adult capable of making her own choices, so at some level she does in fact want to learn how to use the gun she agreed to purchase.

So when I encounter someone who isn't willing to engage on the issues, isn't willing to discuss the dangers and benefits of a given technique "for women" (or for any other student!), but instead simply appeals to the authority of a man who was raised in "another country" than the one I grew up in, well ... there's nothing left to say. Shrug and move on!


February 3, 2009, 12:50 PM
pax, Well I see you have given it some thought. I could have used Paxton Quigley in my "appeal to authority" to the same end. You act like I told you to put you apron back on and get back in kitchen where you belong. Just curious about your user name, not trying to steal some of Paxton's thunder, are you? orchidhunter

February 3, 2009, 01:08 PM
Orchidhunter: It seems to me as if your posts have a bit of provocative nature to them recently. Or am I mistaken here?

Pax: I have found that the fairer sex ( as stated here previously by myself) is much more willing to LEARN during class time and range time. I have found that the women who take my classes are by far more apt to ask questions about their technique, understanding (or lack thereof) and application of firearms than the majority of men. This is by far an absolute, but weighted heavily to one side nonetheless. They (women) usually come with no preconceived notions and have been more open minded. I have never had an "issue" with a single female student. I have had several with men.

February 3, 2009, 01:26 PM
OrchardHunter, I dont mean to start a ruckus, but before I give this topic any further consideration I have to ask.

What is you experience and training in Firearms Instruction. Actual experience?

Just wondering

February 3, 2009, 02:37 PM
orchidhunter ~

No, my real name is in my sig line: Kathy Jackson. You'll also find, if you click on my profile, that I've clarified the name there too. "Pax" is the Latin word for "peace," a name I chose to help me remember to be more of a peacemaker than I am by nature, and also because I firmly believe that without armed citizens willing to fight, no community or nation experiences peace for very long. I chose the name long before I had ever heard of Paxton Quigley or of the anti-gun group "PAX" -- and before the inane TV channel of that name was formed.

And also, no, my reaction wasn't as if you'd told me to get back in the kitchen. I ignored your post on the original thread because there really wasn't anything worthwhile to say in response to it. When you posted this thread, I realized you needed a reason why I hadn't responded to your comment before -- so I gave you my reasoning for ignoring the previous post. Didn't particulary expect you to be happy with it, but it is what it is.

Still up for discussion if you are, on this general topic (teaching ladies) or the other one (dealing with people who've mistakenly ended up with firearms that require more hand strength than they've got). Either way.


February 3, 2009, 02:57 PM
OrchardHunter, I dont mean to start a ruckus, but before I give this topic any further consideration I have to ask.

What is you experience and training in Firearms Instruction. Actual experience?

Just wondering
+1 for this question. I would like to know also. Not hatin. Just sayin.
Thank you. -Goodspeed

February 3, 2009, 04:47 PM
kraigwy & goodspeed(TPF), How chivalrous of you. It is quite apparent to me that pax can fend for her self. As to my experience and training that is one of those need to know deals you here about. orchidhunter

February 3, 2009, 05:28 PM
Orchidhunter, chivalry had nothing to do with it, but I think you answered my question.

"No man's opinion is any better than his background, his experience, and his general common sense." - Jack O'Conner

February 3, 2009, 05:55 PM
Confusing thread... as to the origin? It's just a quote.

I mean when I first read it I was hoping for some insight but... it was lacking a bit. Now re-reading it with comments it's a bit odd turn.

orchidhunter - hmmm. I would just lie low. You started it and boy did you stick your shoe in your mouth.

Kathy has the credentials - I don't think you do... just my opinion... sorry.

So, to stay on topic: I find teaching women to shoot very easy (in the sense once you figure how to teach her what she needs to know - she'll do it). Most guys want to just shoot and spray their ammo all over. Women take the time to listen and understand how to shoot. The fear factor really comes into play here. They are afraid of the recoil and don't want to look like an idiot - on the other hand us guys don't care too much on those levels.

Yes, women tend to have smaller hands but again we're all different and I teach in a more flexible stance - what feels good for the shooter. It does take some figuring out but for a beginner I find women tend to shoot better for their first time.

Here's a principal we need to remember when teaching a woman:
Teach a women how to shoot well, she'll enjoy shooting and the "whole" family will shoot. Turn her off and her husband will be lucky if she lets him shoot at all.

February 4, 2009, 05:43 AM
I was thinking more along the lines of "waste of bandwith".

Capt. Charlie
February 4, 2009, 03:20 PM
I kept hoping that something productive would develop here, but it didn't.

To the contrary, it's developed a tone that's bordering on ugly.

I was thinking more along the lines of "waste of bandwith".

Agreed, and closed.