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Thank you, Tina!

By Tina Wilson-Cohen

The Gender Differences As It Relates To Firearms Safety Training

She arrives to the firearms safety class after researching her instructor’s firearms experience and her investigative intuition has already acquired what would be expected from her.  He examines and compares the varying prices of courses, and seeks information from his male circle in finding an instructor. Throughout the process of identifying a trainer, she comes into contact with several styles of training.  She is turned off by those who imitate a hard core militaristic method of training.  He takes in this information, and his desire is to become part of the brotherhood.  He imagines himself standing side by side with these men who are the next terminators. She is not impressed by offers from male instructors that promote firearms training for women only classes.  He wonders why there should be special classes for women shooters. She becomes hesitant by offers from female firearms instructors whose shooting experience is very limited. He is hesitant in taking a class from any woman unless she has demonstrated experience or has been referred.
Depending upon the gender demographic in class, she is initially quiet without a need to boast about the highest caliber she has ever shot, if any. He loves demonstrating his knowledge of any kind to the firearms class, while anticipating the countdown to range time.  Her inquisitive nature spurs questions that end with a request, “Can you show me?” Usually, he offers details from the latest rumor, movie, or information that his friends “have told him.”
Upon arriving at the shooting range, she is curious and cautious. He walks up to the line and grabs the gun. Each shot that is fired on the range startles her.  She does not care if anyone observes this.  If anything bothers him, it is not noticeable. In fact, he is waiting to “get this show on the road.” While on the line at the range, she listens intently to her instructor’s advice.  Each step taken is deliberate with focus.  While on the line, he grabs the gun and proceeds to fire as rapidly as possible as if the quicker, the better.  The instructor continues to make requests for him to slow down and not “slap the trigger.” A sudden, unexpected smile illuminates her face as her shot breaks the bullseye on her target.  This is the encouragement that was needed to calm her nerves and uplift her confidence.
At the end of the class, her target reveals that SHE CAN SHOOT!  His countenance remains unchanged.  He realizes that the class is finished, however he wishes to remain on the range and continue shooting. She leaves feeling armed with more confidence, and she is now ready to begin her journey in researching what lucky firearm will be hers, eventually.  It might be pink, it could be purple, but it could also dark or steel in color which matches her wardrobe at home.
Homework?  Yes, most women take a firearms training course and explore the opportunities of shooting several firearms before making a purchase. Her research in finding an instructor did not end there.  Much like trying on a pair of pumps, she examines how various guns fit her hand and realizes that it is indeed a very individualized choice. She asks as many questions as she does in handling several firearms before the purchase has been made. On the other hand, he primarily compares prices, solicits advice from his friends, and his selection is typically based on what is popular.
The latest Gallop Poll on guns reports that 47% of Americans now have guns more than any time since 1993.  Those firearms purchases are largely attributed to women.  It is reported that 23% of women confess that they are gun owners; up from 13% in 2005.  I use the word confess because oftentimes, women in general don’t feel the need to announce to the world that they are a proud owner of a gun.  Rather, a large percentage of female gun owners covertly carry for an element of surprise should danger surface; or their gun is safely stored at home.  More men adorn their waistline with the presence of a firearm depending on the geographic regions of our country.  It is like passing a fellow motorcyclist, he has joined the circle. Those who know him are familiar with his interest in firearms and his enthusiasm for shooting.  There is no expected surprise or odd look from anyone as he approaches the subject.  When she happens to mention that she is shopping for a firearm, eyebrows raise and some may ask, “Are you in trouble?”  Her “coming out” in taking such a class or acquiring a firearm might earn her a label as “being odd,” or paranoid from certain peers or social groups in our community, but nonetheless, she might be your sister, mother, grandmother, co-worker, wife, or partner, and,  SHE CAN SHOOT!
*Although some readers may view this article as being condescending in nature towards males, the purpose or intent is to post a compilation of opinions based on personal observations and experiences that have been gathered from male and female firearms instructors that note the differences as it relates to firearms training between the genders.  It is merely a general observation, and the writer acknowledges that not all female and male shooters may fit in the categories that have been mentioned. 
-Tina Wilson-Cohen
SHE CAN SHOOT, President