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Old July 3, 2012, 04:49 PM   #26
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I think women learn better around / from women for a number of reasons. The most important reason, to my way of thinking, would be b/c teachers tend to teach what they think that their students need to know. Women are more in tune with the needs and weaknesses of upcoming women shooters.

Male teachers might know or intuit some of this, but they are just doomed to lag on the "been there, done that, I know what you're thinking" scale.

There are other reasons, but that's my number 1 and I'm sticking to it.
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Old July 3, 2012, 06:20 PM   #27
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Another point that I've discussed with Kathy is that a good number of women come to firearms training because of some unpleasant abusive or criminal incident in their life. In discussion beyond the male oriented stopping power and equipment focus, these life incidents may be better discussed in a female group.

Male participants may not understand such issues, be prone to announce rape myths, give insensitive insights into abusive situations or the like. I know this kind of thing from my professional life.

If you take a male mainly class, you find guys who don't want to hear the avoidance, legal risk, negative psychological outcomes of lethal incident reports. They would rather posture about equipment and when they can shoot someone. Such talk would probably short circuit women's concerns about lethal force use and its consequence. If you talk to trainers (male and female) or take classes, you know these guys. I've seen Vicki Farnam discuss teaching women and darn it - some guy had a hissy fit that women didn't like the compact 1911 that HE thought was best. Vicki shut him up.
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Old July 3, 2012, 07:01 PM   #28
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Here's my story; I have been an avid shooter my entire life. I started my kids shooting at a very early age, about 6-8. I could never get my wife interested. In fact when we got married, 35 years ago, she stated, "There will be no guns in this house!" With that I countered, " I have had these guns far longer than you so learn to live with it!" Once she found out that I was a safe and responsible owner and that most gun owners were not toothless, knuckle-draggin', slugs, she relented. I got my kids competing in local Junior Small Bore matches. She attended regularly and enjoyed seeing all the kids following safety rules and obeying the Range Safety Officer/Match Director.

Through the years I tried to get her to participate with no luck. Many years later when we were both 55, I was visiting a friend in Arizona. He is a licensed Class 3 collector. He set up a machine gun shoot with his fellow collectors for me and my son. My wife tagged along. She shot several MG's ranging from a water cooled Browning to a WW I Lewis, including a Thompson and several others. My friend asked me if my wife would like to shoot a hand gun. I told him to ask her. He approached my wife and asked where she commented, "I have never even held a handgun but I'll try." He took her to the side and gave some basic instruction on safety and sight alignment. He had some steel plates set up at about 20 yards. She was shooting a CZ 9mm. Every single time my wife pulled the trigger she would get a loud CLANG when she hit the plate. She got tickled by the CLANG and never missed. My buddy asked, "Are you sure you have never done this before? She never flinched and never missed. She shot about 30 rounds.

Now, fast forward about 3 months. We were sitting at the dinner table and my son and I were talking about the next IDPA match. During the conversation, my wife piped in and stated, "Shooting that steel plate and getting that CLANG was really fun! Kind of like, instant gratification!". This conversation encouraged me to find a WOMAN instructor to teach my wife. To make a long story short, I found "Babes With Bullets" on-line. This is a ALL WOMANS pistol action shooting camp. The instructors are woman Champions like, Lisa Munson, Kay Miculek, Sheila Brey, Kippi Leatham and , several others.

My wife's sewing machine was stolen out of our car. We had to buy a replacement. She found a machine that cost about what a nice African Double Barrel rifle would cost. I told her that if I buy here this machine she had to do something for me with no questions asked. She agreed. Two months later I told here she was going to a womans shooting camp. The color drained from her face. I reminded her that we made a contract and she reluctanly agreed to go to the camp. I sent her to camp and when I picked her up 4 days later, I had a transformed shooting partner. She absolutley had a ball! She regularly shoots IDPA and USPSA matches. During one match when my son and two daughters were shooting she commented to me that, " I think it's really neat I can be 55 years old and take up a new sport I can share with my family!"

My oldest daughter and I are NRA Instructors. Most or our classes have been 75-80% woman. Most woman respond better to another woman in a firearms class. Based on my experience, all woman class are essential for many interested woman.
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Old July 3, 2012, 07:36 PM   #29
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Compared to some of the other posters, my experience is limited. But IMHO, there are two issues. Why teach women to use guns at all? That has been well answered above. The other issue is why teach "women ONLY" classes?

My answer to the latter is that any time you try to teach men anything about guns (military excepted since the students are under rigid discipline), they will second-guess you, try to show off their "knowledge", interrupt with old war stories from TV and magazines, insist on bragging about some hunting trip some family member took twenty years ago, spout garbage from last month's G&A, and in general try to be macho show-off know-it-alls.

And in mixed classes, it doesn't get better, it gets worse because the men have a built-in female audience for their muscle flexing, chest puffing, and bragging. And if the instructor is female, she had better be able to keep discipline and prove she knows as much or more than the class he-men.

Women, on the other hand will admit they know little or nothing about firearms and generally want to learn. They will take instruction and absorb information without trying to trip up the instructor or prove they know more than he does.

One thing the male instructor with an all or part female class has to be careful of is preening and sexual innuendo. "Coming on" to a female class member is a no-no, even if there is no legal or moral barrier and there are indications an advance would not be unwelcome. Don't do it. It is also a good idea for the instructior to have a female in attendance who will be "on his side" if there are quesitons, like a wife or a female police officer.

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Old July 3, 2012, 08:59 PM   #30
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Some here have already better stated the dynamics of the situation better than I. The way I see it myself is that you got womens only gym classes, women only swimming lessons, women only schools. Women seem to prefer to be segregated it just seems to be a fact of life.
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Old July 4, 2012, 09:29 AM   #31
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My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this thread. I have no comment other than to say that, once again, Kathy Jackson has proven to be one of the most interesting contributors to this website.

Whenever anyone asks my advice about self defense, firearm ownership, concealed carry, etc. I always point them to "the cornered cat" website.
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Old July 4, 2012, 10:27 AM   #32
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Just starting my new "first-time shooter" classes and, yes, I'm marketing to women.

Note the intentional lack of a "tactical vibe".
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Old July 4, 2012, 11:47 AM   #33
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When I was shooting a thousand or so rounds a week, we took a few of the interested women to the range, and after a couple weeks they became converts. The majority of women we invited had comments for us like, "I'm not going to do something so you men can make fun of me!" Promising or swearing that wouldn't happen had no effect. Even the experiences voiced by the new female shooters fell on deaf ears. So there is a contingent that will probably NEVER take up shooting, but then, that is true on the men's side as well. My opinion remains that women-only classes, especially when taught by a woman, are good things, even if they only remove that possibility of embarrassment. Lord knows, we need the women in the shooting sports and we need their positive votes on Second Amendment matters. Why on earth would we not strive to teach them to love guns as much as we?
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Old July 4, 2012, 11:52 AM   #34
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Maybe a shift in the instructing model is needed? Often firearms instruction is a situation of a single teacher or maybe several, but they are "THE" instructor. Maybe a bit more of a team atmosphere could be promoted to instill a sense of trust and broaden the possibilities for learning. It's amazing what things can be learned by students, from students, especially when the students aren't all of one skill level.

I really think some insight from coaches of female sports might be the best resource you could interview. They have been at this coaching thing for a long time and deal with all female classes or practices regularly. They probably have some great insight for this.

I learn new twists on grappling techniques from fellow students all the time. It's often a slight change to a grip or a change in angle that make a technique or move more efficient for me, because of my size, strength, flexability or whatever. If your is all female and the get to a comfortable team feel, maybe it helps to broaden their learning.

Just some random musings on some possible improvements that could be made to the earning experience. Even if they aren't entirely on topic.
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Old July 4, 2012, 12:15 PM   #35
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Ditto for a lot of what has been posted, and great article Pax.

Disclaimer: A lot of what I'm about to say may seem (to some) to be, on one level or another, sexist. This could not be further from the truth, I'm just not very well-versed in political correctness. If you have an issue with something I've said, and you don't feel comfortable replying publicly, please PM me and we can discuss it further.

As far as what to teach women shooters once you get them in the door... I think a lot of the focus of defensive firearms training is overwhelming to new shooters, women especially. Most women are not inclined to memorize "tactikool jargon" and remember to stand this way or that way...

Let's take my wife for example. She's been shooting for a few years now, but is still a beginner. The inclination is not there for her to seek out advanced training for carrying a handgun. If I were to design a class specifically for her and her friends (most of which are in the same position as her), here's what I would do...

I would hold a meeting at a neutral (non-firearms related) location. Get to know the women, what their specific skill level is, what their fears are, what they're weak or unsure in, what their daily routine is like, where they go, how many kids they bring in tow with them, what type of diaper bag they like (essential for carrying a gun for many mothers of small children, where else could they carry it?)... There are a lot of variables that will be different for every woman.

This should be conducted on neutral ground for two reasons:
1. A lot of women (my wife included) are nervous and timid around gun shops, ranges, etc... You want this meeting to be on neutral ground (coffee shop, someone's house, wherever) so you can actually get some women to show up and participate and be involved in the discussion without feeling like they are saying something wrong in the presence of the 'experts' of the gun shop or range.
2. Women are a timid bunch, they naturally want to trust people, but because of the environment of gun shops/ranges/etc, the instructor is in an authority position. When the instructor takes their instructor hat off, and comes to them on equal ground, as a potential friend and mentor. Accomplishing that at a range is difficult.

Once I had a list of each woman's specific fears, skill level, and everything else mentioned above, I would tailor my class to their collective desires. Obviously starting with the basics and working from there. Technical jargon would not be used, it just doesn't interest my wife, and if it doesn't interest her, she won't care about it enough to remember it.

Run some scenarios with the ladies; loading groceries in the car, kids hanging on the shopping cart, and Mr. Bad Guy approaches... Walking through the parking lot, guy jumps out and grabs you... Playing with your kids in the backyard and stranger walks up, creepily... Endless scenarios based on the fears and worries each of the women have. Cookie-cutter classes don't interest my wife, she needs a class that works for her, not one that works for the majority of other women.

A learning environment where the student trusts the instructor, where the student has a vote in what is taught. That is what my wife and her friends need and want... Incidentally, that's not what is being offered in the firearms training community.
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Old July 4, 2012, 01:12 PM   #36
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I'm an NRA Instructor, and taught women-only classes for about five years.

I agree with the points made above, with particular emphasis on two specific issues that were extremely important in my experience:

First, the comment above by Glenn regarding women's reasons for attending the class. Nearly 100% of women students over the age of 18 had a traumatic reason to be in my classes. (Some women brought their young teenage daughters with them, and the daughters were less likely to have been victimized.) Adult women had been raped, stalked, assaulted, beaten up, and/or violently threatened by someone. During the "introduction" part of the first night, we went around the classroom and introduced ourselves and described why we were there and what we hoped to achieve in the course. After my first course I routinely placed boxes of tissues on each table the first night - it was not uncommon for students to break down and sob uncontrollably when describing what happened to bring them to the class. The classes were part encounter group therapy sessions, and part introduction to handgun courses. It was part of a process of reclaiming their independence and feelings of personal security. When we handed out certificates at the end of the class, we also presented each student with a long-stemmed rose. My courses were definitely not your run-of-the-mill shooting courses that men would feel welcome in.

Second, women routinely exhibited a tremendous reluctance to appear foolish in front of others, particularly men. They didn't want to perform poorly - in fact, would rather not participate than perform poorly. It became extremely important to be able to ensure the first shots were successful - we fired .22 LR from supported (sandbags) positions at relatively short distances, and nearly everyone discovered that they could shoot well. Once that occurred, and student's hopes and expectations were validated, then we could move on to other exercises.

This could not occur as easily, in my opinion, in front of an audience of men.

My experience leads me to agree with many poster's above that women-only classes have important benefits to offer women shooters. Women students are often simply different from men students, in significant ways.
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Old July 4, 2012, 10:57 PM   #37
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When we teach women only classes their men are not even allowed on the range. We don't want any macho input. Nor do we want their "expert" input or saying she can't do something. Later he can respond when she kicks his butt.

Many times they have shown up with 22's and 25's because that's what their husbands said they could handle. Three lessons, sometimes less, shes banging away with a 40 or a 45.
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Old July 5, 2012, 07:20 PM   #38
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Yes, it has been awhile.

You know of me, and what I have done.
That said, it irks the heck out of me, that anyone would question why women only classes.

Others have posted some my thoughts, and while others have not, I have to keep the highroad in regard to what I really want to post.

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Old July 5, 2012, 09:55 PM   #39
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I have been an NRA certified instructor in Pistol and Refuse To Be A Victim for almost 2 years. I'm still learning how to be an effective instructor and am constantly working to improve and refine my skills and techniques.

I've had two classes that were female only. Each had 3 students and allowed me to give personal, one on one instruction. I echo many of the comments, experiences and observations expressed thus far in this thread concerning the differences between male and female students. Namely the fact that women don't bring the "macho" attitude that they already know it all because they've been handling guns since they were six when grandpa took him squirrel hunting. I am working to expand my women only classes because I feel there is a real need in my area and, frankly, I enjoy them better as students and find them eager and willing to learn.

And Pax, without patronizing you, I always direct any female that makes contact with me concerning possibly taking training to your Cornered Cat website. Count me as one of your devoted followers. You are one of my valuable resources in my quest to be a better firearms instructor.
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Old July 5, 2012, 11:01 PM   #40
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I have not read most of the responses.
My answer,Why not women only classes?.
Via whatever path that works,Thank God for Dangerous Women!!

I get the idea she wants to be left alone,so lets not mention her name,but I know of an incident where a killer with an AR and a whole lot of ammo and a 9mm entered a full church shooting and killing.
This woman headed with her handgun to the sound of the shooting and put him down.

Seems like a woman had something to do with stopping the killing at Ft Hood.

Look up Silver Star Sgt Hester.Something about a heroic response to an ambush.
I'd a heck of a lot rather hear of a woman who stopped an attacker than of another murder or rape or abduction story.

If a woman would prefer to be taught by women,fine by me.

A number of very good reasons have been listed.

Welcome all,to polite society

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Old July 6, 2012, 09:39 PM   #41
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My wife would not be shooting today if not for her first "woman-only" class.

That class opened up shooting for her. She now takes classes with me every few months. But at first she was very timid. She said some thing along the lines of "i dont want to be in a class with guys because I dont want them to laugh at me"

I am a guy that is very happy there are woman only classes out there.
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Old July 7, 2012, 11:32 PM   #42
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IMO, women are generally more likely to take a NRA Basic class or other type of basic class than men. Most men think they know firearms, how to shoot and basic classes are not for them. Thankfully, the NRA requires the basic classes as a prerequisite to more advanced classes.

As far as the more advanced classes, it seems there could be several factors why most women do not take advanced courses.

Here are possible factors I see.

First, the idea of possibly needing to shoot a person or animal to stop a threat is something most rational people don't want spend a lot of time considering. IMO, most women find the topic harder than most men and are more likely to avoid the subject/courses.

Second, if a lady has already been a victim, they are not going to want to possibly relive the attack during the course in front of strangers - especially men they do or do not know. Women are different than men in several ways, and one area is the difference in emotions and displaying their emotions. They may be fearful of how their emotions may come out during a more advanced course that deals with personal protection.

Third, if a lady had a bad experience with males and their attitudes/treatment of women in the past, there is a tendency to want to avoid a possible repeat of that situation.

Fourth, did they take a course or have a range session where the male instructors and range officers flocked to them while on the range? If they have the attention of multiple instructors/range officers and are given multiple versions of how to do this and how to do that, it is not going to be pleasant experience. It is also not going to be a pleasant experience if a female who looks somewhat like Barbie has help from multiple instructors/range officers at the same time while a female who does not look like Barbie has very little to no instruction on the range. This is an area where the lead instructor and chief range officer really need to take charge. Define what is expected of the instructors/range officers before the course starts, and remind them again as a group before the first range session. If you see multiple instructors/range offers with a female student, immediately see why this has happened and address the situation if there is one. If there is a male instructor/range officer who always seems to make his way to the female students, talk to that instructor/range officer regarding this conduct. For the male instructors/range officers that have a tendency to migrate to female students, assign them to a male student.

In summary, I think it comes down to making the female students comfortable about the course. If they are not comfortable, they are less likely to take the course. Women are more likely than men to avoid possible conflicts.
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Old July 8, 2012, 04:49 PM   #43
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I will be assisting Gator Farm Tactical with setting up classes in Las Cruces. My wife is excited to learn from Vicki Willhite who is their female instructor.
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