Lots of exciting things are happening in the world of women’s shooting. I recently learned that A Girl & A Gun Club (AG & AG) is hosting a national conference that will be sponsored by Smith & Wesson. Naturally, I was curious of the details. We had featured news about AG&AG before, and it appears that they really have the shooting industry bull by the horns these days! I got in touch with AG & AG founder Julianna Crowder to talk about AG & AG and also see what exactly would be taking place at their event.
Britney: What inspired you to start A Girl & A Gun and what is it, exactly?
Julianna: I had a desire to have more women join me at local shooting matches. If a gal is a “new” shooter, I couldn’t just drag her out there, I needed to get her some training first. How do I get a busy woman to the shooting range, especially if they don’t own a gun, might be timid about the experience, doesn’t think she needs to practice or isn’t interested in the gun? I went back to my networking experience and decided to do a happy hour type event. I called it “Girl’s Night Out at the Range,” and made it easy for them to attend, removing almost every excuse.
“I don’t have a gun.” No problem, use one of mine.
“I don’t know what ammo to buy.” No problem, I will bring it and you can buy it from me.
“I don’t have ear protection.” No problem, I have loaners, eye protection, too, if you need it.
“I don’t know what I am doing, feeling kind of nervous.” No problem, I will be there to help you every step of the way.
I found great success in that plan, and the key was to keep it dude free. I am very clear about this, Girl’s Night Out is just that — girls only. No husbands, no boyfriends, no dads … no male instructors. Don’t get me wrong, I have had fabulous male instructors, I have some of the best guy shooting buddies possible. I have a husband that has taught me and helped me to become the gun enthusiast I am today, but there is a dynamic that happens between men and women when there is a personal relationship, and usually is detrimental for the woman. There were a few times where my husband corrected me at a match, and I felt embarrassed or like I let him down. I can take corrections from my shooting buddies all day long, different emotional experience. I have asked my husband a question needing a quick answer and in his desire to give me a thorough explanation makes me crazy! But if an instructor did that I would patiently listen and wait for the nugget of information I needed. I have had countless clients seek me out saying, “My wife/daughter won’t listen to me.” I totally get that! It has happened a few times that a husband brings his wife to the range and, “Oh gosh look what we have here, a ladies group … isn’t that great honey!” Those are my favorites moments!
AG & AG is a place where new shooters can come and be guided, experienced shooters can be challenged and friendships can be made. Community is very important to us. When women get together in groups it is common to find drama. We strive for a drama free community, and we achieve that by always cheering for each other. No matter who you are, there is a place for everyone in our community. We ask that all our members respect each other and follow the golden rule. It has worked out very nicely.
Britney: I hear you are holding a national conference. Is the event tailored for new shooters or all levels of shooting experience? What are the specifics of the event? Date, time and location?
Julianna: Our first national conference is March 22 through 24, 2013, in Waco, Texas, at TIGER Valley. The conference is for members of AG & AG only. We don’t require membership to participate in our Girl’s Night Out and other events, so we try to offer as many member-only perks as possible. Perks include reduced range fees at events when possible, vendor partner discounts, league wide postal matches and quarterly gun giveaways. This conference is to be an ultimate training experience available to the women that have supported the organization and our mission.
I personally took two classes from TIGER Valley in 2011. Then I ran into the owner TJ at shot show in 2012. I told him about what I was doing and that I wanted my girls to come and take a class with him. So I rounded up 10 gals and we did a custom pistol/carbine course. We had such a great time with TJ and Bruce, and the facility is so amazing, that I wanted more members to have an opportunity like we had, and they had so much fun with us, they said they were on board to host anything I could dream up! There are so many talented female instructors/shooters and keeping in the spirit of our dude free environment, an all girls weekend sounded like the perfect idea. I am a Babes with Bullets alumni, and anyone that has been to a Babes camp knows how much fun it is. Deb Ferns and Kay Miculek have been huge role models, as well as mentors for me. They have been constant inspirations to keep building this dream and get more women into the competitive shooting sports, so naturally a conference with focus on competitive shooting, as well as self defense was top priority in my brain. I brought the idea to my board, and together we did some serious brainstorming and came up with a weekend that we thought would be exciting for new shooters as well as our seasoned shooters. Having the the caliber (pun intended) of talented instructors all in one place is dream come true for us. TIGER Valley has been wonderful to work with and I am sure the gals are going to love it there.
Keeping in the spirit of our events be open to all levels of shooters, we want to have something that everyone can benefit from. New shooters will be offered a track of classes that will strongly focus on a good foundation and safety. They will be introduced to many skill sets, but might move slower based on their needs. The intermediate track will be faster paced, giving them a challenge to push themselves and maybe just break a barrier to their next level of shooting.
In addition to the live fire sessions, we will have speakers on personal safety, concealed/open carry, the legal system, how to take care of your body during a match and range medicine.
Britney: And Smith & Wesson is sponsoring the event?
Julianna: Yes! Smith & Wesson is our presenting sponsor, which will help to cover the costs of the conference. The conference is limited to 100 participants, having 10 different sessions going on during every time slot. Having enough instructors on staff to keep our ratios 1:10 is our goal. Plus we are hoping to have a few other special treats at the range that you wouldn’t normally see at a training class … that will remain a surprise. The fee to attend the two and a half day conference with eight sessions and three bonus sessions on Friday is only $250 (plus room, lunch at the range and ammo). Anyone that has priced a professional class would agree that this could easily be a $600 training class for the time and quality of the instructors we are bringing together.
We are so honored to have Smith & Wesson on board. It is a huge pat on our back that we are doing good work, and that the industry is noticing it. Our organization is successful because of the facilitators that sign up to lead chapters and the members who help build the community. Our sponsors and vendor partners recognize these women and the work they are doing locally, and together we are national voice.