I recently had the pleasure of joining seven women for an extraordinary shooting event near Phoenix, Ariz. Hosted by Jacquelyn Kelly, owner of Armed in Heels and taught by Fred Mastison, president of Force Options School of Dynamic Combat, this two-day women’s defensive handgun class ensured plenty of training opportunities and new experiences for its attendees.
When asked why she wanted to organize a class for women only, Jacquelyn said, “There is nothing more fun than a fantastic weekend with girlfriends. I wanted to incorporate having a great time with my firearms training, so I decided to host the class. I also know that men and women have different training needs. By having an all-women’s course, I knew that we could have fantastic girl-time AND get female relevant training. And that is exactly what happened!”
A proponent of the “crawl, walk, run” method, Fred composes his introductory defensive classes into five primary portions, spread out over a two-day period of time. Basic mechanics of firearms, proper mechanics of shooting (including sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, follow through, grip and stance), manipulations of the pistol (including malfunctions and emergency and tactical reloads), shooting drills and “adopting a warrior mindset” are taught in succession, allowing the class to flow naturally and increase skill-levels as time elapses.
Participants favored the “brass on the front sight” drill, which instilled a smooth press of the trigger. In teams of two, one partner places a piece of spent brass on the front sight of an unloaded pistol, followed by executing a smooth trigger press with no “snatching” of the trigger. If done correctly, the gun clicks when the triggers is pressed, but the brass stays in place. Participant Tina Hiley said, “The brass casing drill was my favorite. It taught me to keep my hands steady. Afterward, there was a significant difference in my shooting!”
A crucial part of operating a firearm is knowing how to clear a malfunction. Fred recounted, “As I say in classes, you can be the best shot in the world, but if you can’t fix malfunctions and keep your gun in the fight, you have a serious problem. In this section of the course, I present the three most common malfunctions seen in pistols: failure to fire, failure to extract and feedway stoppage. I teach a very specific way to clear these malfunctions; the reason being simple — these actions should become instinctive and natural. The less you have to think about them, the better you will be.”
Jacquelyn said, “When thinking about the actual drills we did, my favorite thing was when we learned how to clear firearm malfunctions. I know it sounds like it would be the most boring part of the class, but it helped me feel so much more confident and in control of my firearm. It was a huge turning point for me.”
Participant Megan Bruce said, “I learned a lot in the ladies defensive handgun class. Along with the physical skills needed to operate a firearm, I gained something more important — the proper mindset for self-defense. The class gave me confidence I didn’t realize I was missing. Now I know that I can be just as good, if not better, than any male. I can carry my firearm without second-guessing myself if the need to use it arises. It is one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever experienced.”
Outside the waistband holster: Looper Law Enforcement Annie O women’s holster
Eye protection: My eye protection of choice is ESS EyePro, specifically the ESS EyePro CDI glasses with exchangeable lenses or Crosshair 3LS Kit with Suppressor frame (for use with ear muff style hearing protection).
Range bag: G.P.S. Wild About Shooting medium range bag. Armed in Heels co-owner, Jacquelyn, uses this bag and loves it. There is a pocket for everything!
Gun belt: I wore the Looper Law Enforcement Hello Sailor women’s gun belt during our class. I found it held its shape and was comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. And it’s a great transition belt to everyday wear.
Ammo: Atlanta Arms & Ammo provided I9, 9MM 115 grain Total Copper Jacket ammunition for me to shoot during the women’s class. I highly recommend it. We put hundreds rounds down range during the two-day class, and the ammunition performed flawlessly. Although we shot outdoors, the encapsulated bullet is also ideal for indoor shooting.
ShootingStarr is sponsored by Armed in Heels.