With Women’s Day and month upon us, we’d like to outline why women should learn to shoot.
The number of gun-owning women has been rising dramatically over the past decade and they all have one thing in common: empowerment! Many of these women cite personal protection for themselves and their families as the number one reason for learning to shoot. And the second reason is the sense of confidence it provides. A lesser, although not unimportant, reason is the great camaraderie on the shooting range.
Don’t be an easy target
Marksman’s Nest has trained many women to shoot, defend themselves in close quarters and conceal carry.
It’s a matter of watching the news to see how many women in South Africa are targets for attacks, robberies and murder daily. So, let’s not pussyfoot around. Owning a gun and being proficient in using it when the need arises is simply beyond liberating. It can save your life and the lives of your family.
Women who’ve decided enough is enough are choosing to take classes, gain confidence, and feel more empowered and ready to protect themselves and their families. It’s not only a matter of knowing the how-to’s of guns, you need to feel confident about loading, unloading, drawing from a holster safely and maintaining situational awareness. Only hands-on practice under the guidance of a qualified instructor can give you this ability.
The mental preparedness through self-defence scenarios is equally important. Plus you need to know and understand the laws applicable to using a firearm for personal protection.
Apart from the serious side, shooting with others is a bunch of fun. Even better is when you start challenging one another to practise and improve. So much better than sitting and watching soapies for sure.
Now you know why women should learn to shoot. So, whether you’re 18 to 80, now is the time to enroll for firearm training. The atmosphere is supportive and a true sisterhood prevails.
Legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley had an unshakable belief in women’s ability to defend themselves. Do her proud and enrol at Marksman’s Nest today.
When we say ‘get a grip’, we’re all for the importance of grip and trigger as two of the most important factors in shooting accurately with a handgun. With proper grip, you can shoot any calibre firearm – from the .22, all the way up to the .500 Magnum.
Marksman’s Nest chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee emphasised that good grip would make you a more consistent shooter. “Your shooting grip is just one of the factors that go into becoming a great shot and learning to shoot well. The better and stronger it is, the less you’ll feel recoil. Also, whether using a semi-automatic pistol or a revolver, the right grip will not only reduce the movement of the firearm, but will also maximize the speed and accuracy of your follow-up shots.”
According to Geoffrey, the old cup and saucer shooting grip is just plain bad. “It’s so much better to use the Thumbs Forward technique, which almost always improves accuracy. And it’s imperative to maintain the same grip, shot after shot.”
On the draw
When taking hold of your gun in the holster, the web of your shooting hand must be in the top tang on the back-strap and no higher. If it’s higher, the slide will bite your hand and if too low, the gun will move more with recoil.
It’s important to have both thumbs pointing at the target. That means the heel of your non-shooting hand should cover the exposed area on the grip. To create a solid grip foundation, align the gun with your forearm.
A one-hand grip usually affects accuracy negatively. So, use both hands, with your non-dominant hand supporting your shooting hand. Don’t grasp too tightly: otherwise your hands and arms will tire easily. But don’t grip slackly either because then it increases firearm movement.
Ensure that your thumbs don’t interfere with the slide or controls. However, you also shouldn’t cross them behind the slide. The recommended position for your thumbs is having them either on top of each other or overlapping and pointed forward on the opposite side of your trigger finger. You’ll know you’ve got it right if both of your thumbs are almost parallel to each other and touching.
Remember, your arms, fingers and wrists all coordinate to get a grip for bull’s-eye shooting.
Nothing beats training
All the above will become as natural as tying your shoelaces with continuous training. So the mantra is: train, train and train.
To build up forearm and wrist strength, exercise with a stress ball, tennis ball, or grippers. Reverse curls using rubber bands of different strengths to spread the fingers apart are also good. And nothing beats regular pull ups to work out your upper body!
Make no mistake: concealed carry requires training. Many gun owners are mistaken in thinking that with a gun licence and being able to point a gun, they’ll be able to defend themselves when the need arises. “Not so,” said Marksman’s Nest chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee.
“The long and short of it is, if you want to be capable of defending yourself from a deadly threat, get training and carry a firearm. Chances are, you might not ever use your firearm, but surely it’s safer to have it and not need it than to desperately need it when trying to defend yourself?”
Refining your skills and nerve in a threatening situation is key to your safety. And concealed carry training will get you there.
There are many factors involved in this training. Firstly, being able to shoot fast and on-target under extreme stress. Only regular practice gets you there, because the time and effort you spend on learning to operate a firearm properly definitely will pay dividends in effectiveness.
Secondly, you need to be comfortable with every aspect of putting your concealed carry gun to use. So comfortable in fact that you should be able to draw, shoot, clear malfunctions and reload on auto-pilot.
Unconscious thought gets you there
“If you have to use conscious thought to accomplish these tasks, your ability to defend yourself is already diminished,” Geoffrey said. “Because remember, as a concealed carry citizen, you may only use deadly force when you’re in fear for your life or the life of someone else.”
Stress levels soar when in a life-or-death situation. Which is why there’s no substitute for the confidence gained from regular practice, which ensures pin-sharp motor skills.
Training and more training
Operating your gun in a life-threatening situation should come as naturally as driving your car. For this reason, Geoffrey recommends an initial intensive training course, followed by regular practice on the range for best results.
“We ensure that new shooters first use a mental checklist to master the fundamentals. Thereafter, with regular practice, a new shooter will be able to react with conditioned operational thinking. But it’s imperative to learn doing things in the correct way when developing fast responses. That’s why we emphasise that concealed carry requires training.”
Never has it been a better time to consider self-defence training in the workplace. And we here at Marksman’s Nest Firearm Shooting Range believe that self-defence training in the workplace is all about empowerment-first safety training. Just consider the fact that empowered employees will undoubtedly perform better on the job. But importantly, this empowerment carries beyond the office, classroom or clinic.
Workplace safety issues
There are many workplace safety issues to consider. For instance, these may range from sexual harassment to active shooting events which dominate South African news articles.
Countless employees who have never been on a shooting competency course do feel continually vulnerable and anxious. In a post last year, Marksman’s Nest member Geraldine Burke said, “I work long hours and drive a 200-km round trip to work every day. The route is fraught with hijacking hotspots. Which is why I decided to put a stop to the constant fear while driving. Thanks to Geoffrey and Hein’s training and patience during the self-defence training, I’ve learnt all the aspects of the law on gun ownership, handgun maintenance, alertness and preparedness.”
A skills-first approach
Our workplace safety training follows a skills-first approach in which we teach employees how to respond to harassment and threatening scenarios. So, by providing hands-on skills to trainees, we emphasise empowerment-first in our training modules. Typically this includes: cultivating intuition; talking about the emotional, psychological and physical aspects of stressful work situations; and most importantly, the legal aspects of using a firearm in self-defence.
In our skills-first training, trainees become competent in reacting purely through muscle memory techniques. It’s by far the best way to ensure fast and effective responses. But in the case of trauma survivors, we adopt a one-on-one approach addressing the emotional, psychological and social factors to safely work with these delicate trainees.
At the end of the training, employees will be equipped with safety strategies and knowledge; boundary-setting skills; and physical self-defence skills.
Some organisations with the necessary resources might consider ongoing safety training for their employees. In this instance we provide skill-specific training after the empowerment-based safety training.
In short, our goal with self-defence training in the workplace is to change employees’ mindsets to a fearless can-do approach.
A little known fact is that you get health benefits at a shooting range. Just think about it: it’s cardiovascular, increases muscle strength, ups stamina, exercises your eyes, improves brain health and lightens your mood.
Moving from target to target and walking about the range get the blood pumping and your heart will thank you for this cardiovascular work-out. Holding and firing a weapon also is exciting. That means your adrenaline spikes. Increased adrenaline levels signal your liver to break down glycogen. The latter provides your muscles with glucose, the primary source of body fuel.
To aim and shoot your target require steady arms and hands. So this builds arm strength. In addition, remaining still in your shooting stance while aiming your gun exercises your core muscles. Strengthening the abdominal muscles allows the weight of the upper body to be evenly distributed over the front and back, improving balance.
Improving eye sight
Although target shooting can’t fix eye deficiencies, it does exercise your eye capabilities. What’s more, you’ll be giving your eyes a break from staring at computer, TV and phone screens, thus relieving constant eye stress.
By keeping your eyes on the target, you need focus. That means you’ll find yourself in the present moment. And health experts the world over are forever stressing the importance of present-moment living.
Then there’s the matter of setting goals and achieving it. As you start checking these goals off of your bucket list at the shooting range, your confidence will surge. This is the perfect antidote to fighting off depression and feelings of inadequacy.
Add to this the fact that shooting sports and self-defence training are entirely mentally-orientated. As a result, you’ll sharpen and expand your concentration levels. Also, there are many problem-solving activities involved in shooting. This further sharpens your brain to think outside the box.
Because shooting requires responsibility, you’ll learn a lot in terms of both safety and skill development. That means that shooting sport cultivates personal responsibility, courage and confidence.
So yes, you get health benefits at a shooting range. If you want to start receiving these benefits, sign up today.