Brit: Hello there Shelley, Shelley Rae, Shelley-Rae – if that is your real name. How did you first “get into” guns and what is your blog all about?
Shelley Rea: Haha. I prefer to go by “Shelley Rae” online. My background in shooting is not really standard — I didn’t grow up shooting at all. Not that my parents were against or afraid of guns, I was just a city kid, we didn’t have them. I thought they were cool. I always wanted to be the “tough girl,” so guns were right up my alley.
When I was 19, I started dating a guy who shot a lot of skeet, so I ended up shooting with him on a fairly regular basis. I bought my first shotgun that summer and then in the fall ended up helping him start up the Oregon State University Shotgun Club. It was kind of funny because I never went to Oregon State but I ended up going to the administrative meetings to help establish a club — they had no idea I was an insurance associate who lived in town rather than a student.
I shot at least once a week for the next year or two at Mitchell’s Clay Target Sports, a beautiful clay sports range just outside of Salem, Ore. Stephen Parks, who is an NSCA Level I certified instructor, coached us and taught me a lot. It was a great time and a way for all of us to get away from town and relax. Our friends used to tag along and just do homework in the club house.
The winter after I turned 21 I lost the boy and my job, I was living in the back of some lady’s garage, it wasn’t pretty. I drove back to my old stomping grounds in Seattle to talk to my parents and figure out what my next move would be. They decided the next thing to do would be to take me shooting and calm me down. A new gun range had just opened up so we headed in to check it out.
The range was closing down for the night the first time we showed up, they weren’t open their full hours yet because they had just opened shop the week before. We filled out some paperwork, got a tour of the facility and joked with the guys. I remember kind of jokingly asking if they had any part-time jobs available. I didn’t know the owner was standing right behind me until he said, “Sure, you want one?”
We came back the next day to shoot, I followed up with the owner who asked me a few questions about my background and my work experience. The next week, on December 24th, I started working there as part time sales. I still say, West Coast Armory was the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten.
I remember when I was hired there I promised the boss “I’m smart and I will work really hard for you,” so that’s exactly what I did. Keep in mind, prior to this job, all my experience had been in shotgun shooting. Now I was at an indoor range with pistols and rifles and, oh God, all the black plastic guns looked the same. I took some InSights Training Center classes, I paid close attention and I learned as quickly as I could. Two years later I was the range manager.
Half-way through those two years some guy from the NRA waltzed in handing out pamphlets on some political thing. He started shooting the IDPA matches we hosted every Tuesday night. I was skeptical, something about some TV show and the NRA and, who did this guy think he was anyway? Turns out he was Caleb Giddings, and he ran Gun Nuts Media, and he was going to offer me a job writing for him.
The gig at Gun Nuts saw me at SHOT Show 2011, then at GunSite in April of that year, then at Steel Challenge that summer. Caleb taught me to shoot better, I took some more InSights classes, I started to build my online persona and eventually I left the range, which was heartbreaking for everyone, to pursue a freelance career.
The position I hold now, editor of Western Shooting Journal, was acquired in just as random, rag-tag, of a manner as the rest. Someone posted a link to a Craigs List ad for the job on my friend’s Facebook wall. My friend tagged me in a comment saying I should check it out. I said “what the heck” and sent in a resume. Apparently even after interviewing me they still decided to hire a 24-year-old girl gun blogger over a bunch of older, experienced print guys. Talk about the wave of the future, I love it.
Funny side note: When they called to offer me the job I was driving out to Boomershoot with 30calgal Anette Wachter in her Challenger RT. She got pulled over just after they called. I didn’t want to be rude to the cop but I was thinking “I cannot hang up on this call, these people are offering me a ridiculously awesome job.”
And now here I am. Wherever here is. An office in downtown Seattle, I guess.
As far as my blog goes … It has several uses. I mostly blog things on there I don’t want to risk putting under my publication’s title. Or if I have something asinine or something totally off topic. I love talking about wine and cars.
It also has a “Resources for Women” section though, which I’m building as a relatively comprehensive place for women who are interested in finding out more about firearms for defense and carry use can go. The idea is that, as difficult as it is to find good information in a world where anyone can start up a blog and a Facebook fan page, there will be a spot that will link to valuable and accurate articles and websites from intelligent and experienced sources.
Brit: Wow, I feel like I really know you now. You should write a book or something. I love the idea about “Resources for Women”. Speaking of awesome women in the industry, I know you recently attended the Girls Gun Getaway and went hunting for the first time while you were there. How was that?
Shelley Rae: Hunting was fun. I always liked the outdoors but have never been big on the concept of shooting living things, I do wonder how the trip would have been different if we nailed a coyote. I am really glad I had the opportunity to spend the morning with a group of such intelligent, accomplished and incredibly sweet women. I guess that’s really what that hunting trip was about for me – the camaraderie, and to prove that we city girls can wake up super early and drag ourselves into the bushes too; somebody had to represent!
Brit: Do you carry? What is your carry gun (if you don’t mind sharing) and why did you choose it?
Shelley Rae: I carry an M&P Shield. I have been shooting M&Ps in competition for a couple years now so it only made sense to get the Shield when it came out so I can work off a standardized platform.
I like that the Shield is the same platform as my other guns. It also has a shorter, if still heavy, trigger than a lot of single stack 9 mm pistols.
I don’t generally trust single stack 9 mms, they tend to be unreliable. I only have about 500 rounds through my Shield so the verdict’s still out on whether or not I can recommend it in good conscience, although given the M&P platform’s history of reliability I am sure the Shield will have no problem with the 2,000 round challenge. I will say the the Shield and the Kahr PM9 are the only two single stack 9 mms I’ve been confident enough in to carry.
The shorter trigger on the Shield could be a major selling point for women if the gun stands up to reliability expectations. Because we naturally have less upper body strength, double action triggers tend to wear our forearms out rather quickly, having a shorter trigger pull is going to reduce that muscle strain and hopefully encourage women who carry the little guns to practice more.
Shelley Rae: My biggest female influence? Easily Julie Golob, she works hard and is extremely good at her job and I have a lot of respect for that. She has given me advice and helped me out and I couldn’t be more appreciative. I don’t know how she does it all! And I really have no idea how she can be so darn sweet either!
I know that I’ll never “be” Julie, there was a time I wanted to but even Julie helped me realize winning titles isn’t really my thing. I guess at a certain point we all have to grow into our own. I still want to know where that woman gets all her energy though, and I can only hope to some day have those leadership skills. Watching her and Barb (Baird) keep our group in line at the Girls Gun Getaway was pretty impressive.
One of the things she really helped me with recently is just relaxing. I can be pretty high strung and have a tendency to take things a little too seriously. Thanks to her I’ve realized that if I want to post photos of my cat or talk about video games and muscle cars I can, because that’s me.
Julie has done a lot for me. The only way I know how to repay her kindness is to continue to work hard, to help people, to promote women and the shooting sports, to do the things I’m passionate about and to be my wine-loving, video-game-playing, car-adoring, fashion-obsessed self in the process.
Visit Shelley-Rae’s blog “GCB Guns Cars Booze” here.