Women and Training

I’d like to look at the phenomena of firearms classes for women.

There are some who believe that men and women are two sides of the same coin and thus are essentially identical. Yet neither science nor experience supports this view. Men and women are different. The hormones in their bodies, the distribution of physical strength in their bodies, even the wiring of their brains are all different. I also believe this is a good thing. As the French say vive la différence. It gives humanity two different perspectives and experiences for us to evaluate our problems. A deliberately single gendered organization functions like a person who has two good eyes but voluntarily keeps one eye closed. One may find isolated exceptions but in the broad scheme of things I believe we will find that men and women on the same team is almost always a good thing.

However when it comes to training, men and women are not so different. Additionally, the few differences between the training needs of the genders is rarely served by isolating men and women during training. A woman learning self-defense needs most to be familiar with using these tactics against men seeing as it is most likely a man that will attack her. I can see some classes being for women only. My wife took both the basic and the intermediate self-defense classes offered by the local police department. These were open to women only. Many of the women in these classes had suffered significant abuse and were understandably reluctant to be in close proximity with men. Too, as a general rule men are physically stronger than women and one could see how a woman might feel overshadowed by men performing techniques more effectively by virtue of nothing more than their natural strength.

None of these physical considerations apply to women in firearms training. While it is true that men generally have greater mass in their upper bodies and that the extra mass can help absorb a weapon’s recoil, a difference like this is quickly remedied with proper technique. Let’s compare shooting with prize fighting. While there are, no doubt, a great many women who could out box me, the greatest male heavy weight prize fighter will defeat the greatest female boxer. The reasons are obvious. The man will simply be bigger and stronger. It is a different story for shooting. The most physically demanding act of running a handgun is racking the slide. The most physically demanding part of running a carbine or shotgun is holding the weapon up while reloading or identifying and clearing a malfunction. These are actions that do not even come close to disqualifying women. What about the rest of gun handling? It is a combination of fine and gross motor skills, shooting positions, trigger control, sight alignment, and so on. Explain to me why a woman should not perform to at least the same level of a man of similar stature.

Women typically bring less baggage than men do to a class. Women tend to be more receptive and follow the instructions better. A man often suffers under the false belief that his gender has somehow predisposed him to being proficient with firearms. When that man confronts the fact that weapons handling is a skill like any other and that he will have to work at it (as he has everything else) to become proficient, he is likely to become frustrated or embarrassed. Neither of these things is conducive to learning. Women on the other hand generally come to a class as a “blank slate” with few to no expectations. They quickly become energized by their progress and inspired by the fact that they can control the gun and shoot it well. It is quite common to have new female shooters pick up the skills faster than their frustrated and embarrassed male counterparts.

This is why we do not currently offer female-only classes. We don’t see the need nor see any advantage in having single gender classes. If we identify a need we will meet it. We are strong believers in women being armed and ready to protect themselves and others. There is no reason for a woman to not shoot was well as, or better than, a man. Allow me to repeat that. There is no reason for a woman to not shoot was well as, or better than, a man. There is NO reason.

So men, be happy for the women shooting better than you. Women are just as likely as men are to quickly pick up shooting. And ladies, if you’ve been thinking about getting acquainted with firearms don’t wait around for a women’s class. Find a class in your area of interest from a reputable place and go for it!

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