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And so began my journey to becoming an NRA instructor.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would touch a gun much less shoot one. As it happened, one day I reached an age where I decided not to be afraid of the unknown. After all, guns were on the news every day, in every prime time show on television, in every major movie. I don’t think they can make a blockbuster movie that doesn’t have at least one woman and one gun in it. It was one of those movies that got me thinking seriously about getting a gun. No, it wasn’t a cops and robbers movie, or an international spy movie that did it, it was a movie about a world event leading to chaos in the streets and the human response.
That day, I decided to buy a gun for home defense. Seriously, me a so called liberal. I, who in college chose my debate subject on gun ownership and why I was against it! I felt like a different person with a different perspective on life. The innocence and naive thinking of my youth had changed. Sadly, I realized that we no longer live in a country where we can feel safe in our own homes. The increase in poverty and crime and the decrease in education coupled with diminished resources for law enforcement, make for dangerous times.
I used to think the media was sensationalizing crime and exaggerating it for the purpose of ratings. Now I feel that it’s the complete opposite. I think for every one story they report on TV there are at least ten others they never get to. You hear about home invasions, but only the ones in neighborhoods where there were none before. I subscribe to a crime statistics and reports website, called Spotcrime and my local City’s Patch site, where I get the real local news. This is how I know there are many more crimes than are ever reported by the nightly news.
Fast forward.
So there I was picking up my beautiful new gun, a small semi auto. I had taken the required, written test for a Handgun Safety Certificate in California. Then, I waited the required ten days after my background check cleared. I was so excited, but at the same time nervous. The feel of steel and protection in my hands felt strangely comforting. Although, I now had a means to protect myself and loved ones, I in no way felt confident enough to use my new firearm. I still needed to learn how to safely use, transport, store and maintain it. I wanted to be able to properly protect myself and prevent a tragic accident. Otherwise, if the time ever came when I needed to use it, I might not have the skills to preserve my life and my loved ones lives.
So, I scheduled a private lesson with a shooting instructor, I knew it was the only way I would feel safe handling my new firearm. Yes, firearm, not weapon. I quickly learned that safe gun handling begins with the right attitude. The National Rifle Association’s safe gun handling rules, are comprised of knowledge, skills and attitude. I totally agree, you need all three to be a safe gun owner. Whether you remain ignorant or become negligent is up to you. The result is the same for both of those, in that it may result in a tragedy. And so began my journey to becoming an NRA Certified Instructor.

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Your first experience at the gun range

indoor gun range 1So you just bought your first gun, or simply want to try out some guns out before making a purchase. If you’ve never been to a gun range before it can be pretty intimidating. To start, most ranges are full of people, mostly men. If you’re shy, you may want to take a friend with you. In fact some ranges will require that a friend vouch on your behalf before you can rent a gun. That is, if you don’t already own a gun. Unfortunately, some ranges have experienced a person coming in to rent a gun for the sole purpose of committing suicide. Maybe they think that if they come in with a friend they wont have that in mind. Whatever the reason, every range has their own rules and if you want to shoot there you must follow them. As you approach the counter area, you will be asked to read over the rules and also sign some sort of waiver. Most ranges require that you leave your ID with them, until you are done shooting and are ready to pay.

Gun range prices vary from place to place so you may want to call first. Maybe check out their prices on their website. If you already own a gun and have your own ammo you will only have to pay for range time. That varies also, since some places charge by the hour, and some by the night for each person or lane. Things can add up if you don’t have eye and ear protection which are mandatory in most ranges. Some ranges will sell them, others will rent them to you. For sanitary purposes, I think it’s better to bring your own, of course! Where it gets really pricey is if you don’t own a gun and want to rent theirs. They will usually require you to buy their ammo too, since it’s their gun and they want to maintain it in operation. Oh, and some ranges won’t let you bring your own targets, so you will have to purchase those too. In the case of outdoor ranges, which have Range Safety Officers monitoring the shooting bay, you will have to have some kind of empty chamber indicator. Phew! Now you see that it can get very expensive for a night out of shooting.

Now you’ll take all your goodies to your assigned shooting lane, after you put on your eye and ear protection. At this point, do not un-case your firearm until you are at your lane, making sure that when you do it will be pointed down range. If it’s an indoor range, the lane will have either a mechanical or an electronic target holder. If it’s an outdoor range, you’ll have to wait for a cease fire period so you can go out on the field and hang a target. Once you’re ready you can load your gun or dry fire it, while pointing down range. When shooting a new gun or an unfamiliar model always start off with an empty gun while you load and unload an empty magazine. If you have a revolver, learn how to open the latch and count the chambers.Learn how to load and unload it. Depending on whether it’s a single action revolver or a double action revolver, there will be a difference. It’s a good idea to have some dummy rounds, or snap caps in the caliber of the gun you want to dry fire.

Remember to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, whether you are handling an empty gun or a loaded one. Always, keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot. Keep the gun unloaded until you’re ready to shoot it. Verify the guns condition by opening the action. Check both visually and physically to make sure the gun is unloaded, before stepping away from the bench, putting away your gun, or if a cease fire is called. Use a chamber flag if the range requires it.

Try loading one round at first, then five rounds and progress from there. If you aren’t used to the bang and the recoil of a gun it may make you nervous. This is totally normal. Some women will experience strong emotions and even cry at their first shooting experience. This is due to the adrenaline and anticipation that builds up to handling something so powerful. If you find you cannot continue for the night or aren’t sure of how to unload and put away the gun safely, get assistance. In the range staff there is always someone on duty that can help you. Do not worry,it happens often and no one will judge you. On the contrary, you must put safety above all else. There is no rush and you can come back another night or after some formal instruction. In most cases, formal instruction is what you need to build confidence. You will be back to the range in no time with new skills and knowledge about safe gun handling.

You may also find that once you shoot your first few rounds, you will want to come back as often as your finances permit. Once you do decide on a gun and learn the fundamentals of shooting you will need to practice them in order to build muscle memory. If a situation should arise and you need to use your gun, it would be difficult to remember the skills you learned but never used before. Do a search on shooting clubs that meet often. You can learn a lot from other experienced shooters but you can also learn from other newbies too. Most importantly, always practice the safe gun handling rules which are to; always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use, know your target and what is beyond it. Additionally, always use the correct ammunition for your firearm and learn how to maintain your gun. Use proper storage for your gun, making sure children and unauthorized people cannot get a hold of it. Study the laws in your area regarding ownership,use,storage and transportation of your firearm. You can learn more about ownership and safe gun handling from the National Rifle Association’s  NRA.org site 
For a recorded version checkout Spreaker.com below.

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A BUMP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

IMG_4992So you’re sitting at home in your living room and the doorbell rings your dogs are going crazy.You go to the door and ask who is there? No one answers, you ask again, no one answers..
After a little while the doorbell stops and they seem to go away so you get back into your book or your TV program, whatever you were doing and then the doorbell rings again.You get up to go back to the door and you ask who is it,who’s there?Silence..

Now you start to back away and you start to remember what you learned in your personal protection class in your personal protection inside the home class,you start to remember your plan. You remember what they taught you about staying safe and getting things together.

Do you know where to go, who to call? Do you have an escape route,do you have a cell phone or other phone,do you have a safe room? Did you practice with your self defense tools?

So you gather up your self-defense tool on the way to your safe room and lock the door,you take cover and you call someone.You take a deep breath in and out, you try to relax and you wait for help to arrive.

As it turns out you find a note taped to your door, it was from your neighbor letting you know that your tree’s branch had fallen into their yard. But you didn’t know that, and why didn’t they answer you when you asked who’s there!

Okay, so you start to think back on how you reacted to this drill and you realize that there are some things you can improve on. Like, why was your self defense tool in an upstairs drawer and not beside you? Why haven’t you fixed that motion detector light in front of your door yet? What about that camera you keep telling yourself you’re going to have installed outside of your garage?And, it’s been almost a month since you went to the practice range.

Right, so now you know what things you could improve on now, what things did you do right? Well,you got your self-defense tool and you went to your safe room and locked yourself in. You had your cell phone ready and charged,you had your flashlight, you had additional self-defense tools inside the room.You also had a spare set of keys, just in case you needed to throw them out the window to law enforcement to let themselves in.
You had a self-defense plan that was fit for your circumstances and your home and you feel proud of yourself. Good for you! Most people don’t even have a plan, most people have never taken a class or bought a self-defense tool. Most people have never even thought of the idea, of what would happen if they had an unwelcome visitor in their home, much less what to do about it.

Well ladies I want you to ask yourself something?What would you do if you had someone trying to break into your home?What if you were sound asleep and you heard a bump in the middle of the night? What would you do?

Even if you’re married or you have a boyfriend think of all of the circumstances when you are alone, all of those times when you are alone in your home with nobody else around. Who would you depend on to defend you in case there was an intruder that meant to cause you harm?

Now I want you to walk over to the mirror and look.Can you see that beautiful woman, that beautiful strong woman, that beautiful intelligent woman looking at you? That’s who you could depend on, that’s who would be there to protect your life!

Whether you’re young or old, small or tall, there are crime prevention strategies, self defense techniques and personal protection tools available.

You can start by checking within your local community for self-defense training or crime prevention committees available to the public.

The National Rifle Association also has Refuse To Be A Victim seminars across the country where you can learn the personal safety tips and techniques you need to avoid dangerous situations and avoid becoming a victim. You can find a seminar near you at Refuse.NRA.org.

Whichever method you choose to protect yourself make sure you find an experienced and certified instructor to train you.

If you decide to own a firearm you should always consult with your local,state and federal laws regarding the purchase,possession transportation and transfer of firearms as well as their use in defensive situations. You should also understand the basic legal principles surrounding the use of deadly force in self-defense. For more specific information consult an attorney familiar with the laws relating to firearms in self-defense in your jurisdiction.

Americans enjoy the right to own firearms but with this right comes a responsibility. As a gun owner it is your responsibility to store, operate and maintain your firearms safely. It is the gun owner’s responsibility to ensure that unauthorized individuals cannot gain access to your firearms. It is a gun owner’s responsibility to learn and obey all applicable laws that pertain to the purchase, possession and use of a firearm in his or her locale.

Please, don’t wait until that bump in the middle of the night to figure out what to do next.

You can find an NRA Certified Instructor near you or for NRA Certified firearms classes go to:
Find an NRA certified course

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