Reader Rebecca Platt writes . . .
I was seven years old when I had my first experience with a gun. My father was target shooting with some friends and asked me if I wanted to try. His stable hands enveloped mine as I tried to grip the handle of a Colt Trooper .357.
Ear protection in place, I squinted one green eye like the cowboys on TV and, with dad’s help, pulled the trigger. The deafening kick was shocking. I still remember the immediate fear and respect for an object so powerful.
I was 12 before I experienced another firearm. We lived out in the country and occasionally a water moccasin would make its way to our yard. After many gun safety lectures from my parents and some tin-can plinking, I became decent with a .22 rifle.
As an adult, I now own the beautiful Colt Trooper revolver that jarred me all those years ago, and my husband has outfitted me with a few more pistols for my personal safety.
There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of new first-time gun owners just since the beginning of this year and a large percentage of them are women. Here are four pieces of advice I’d offer to women who are acclimating to their new piece.
Take a Gun Safety Course
Even if you don’t plan to carry your gun concealed, please take a gun safety course. It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you think you are, take the course. Listen to other people in the class (especially law enforcement) about gun safety and the laws in your state. It will help shed light on your new adventure with the Second Amendment. You’ll hear fresh perspectives, feel positive encouragement, and gain practical skills in how to store, conceal, and utilize your weapon.
To locate a gun safety course or conceal carry licensing class in your area, do a little Googleing or call your local law enforcement agency. The fee for the basic safety class is usually between $25 and $50. The instructors are frequently local law enforcement officers with extensive experience in handling firearms.
I took my course on a Saturday morning and enjoyed every minute of it. After the classroom portion, we gathered outside at tables with officers to help us load, properly grip and aim our guns properly. After firing a few rounds and getting questions answered, each participant was given a packet of information to fill out along with a certificate of completion.
If you want to graduate to a concealed carry permit, you’re off to a good start. Classes and requirements differ from state to state and can run anywhere from about $50 to $150. If the safety certificate of completion for gun safety is all you desire, congratulations, you did it!
No one leaves the hospital with a new baby without making sure the child has everything it needs to thrive at home. The same goes for a new firearm. (I know, I compared a baby to a new gun. Just hear me out.)
Your gun is going to need equipment and care if it’s going to serve you well. A gun is useless without ammunition, and it’s important you get the right kind. Do you have a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol with a magazine? Is one magazine enough? (My husband bought me two more for my birthday, so the answer must be no.)
Do you have enough ammunition for practice and protection? Where can you get good ammunition at a decent price (that’s not easy right now)? What IS a decent price? Did you know guns need to be cleaned after each use? Do you have a gun cleaning kit? Do you know how to safely clean a firearm? Do you have a proper lock for your gun? What will you store it in? These are things you need to think about, preferably before you brought your “new baby” home, but if you didn’t, start preparing now.
My advice is to find someone you trust who is careful, confident and has experience with firearms. They will be able to steer you toward the best resources like gun accessory shops, cleaning techniques, and facilities to practice shooting. Seek out other women and connect over coffee and target practice at the range. (Then contact me, because I want in!)
Go On Dates
…with your gun. I don’t mean take your gun when you go on dates with other people. Unless you feel you need to. To which I say “girl, you deserve better.” What I’m saying is, get to know your gun like you get to know potential mates. Become intimately acquainted with everything your gun can do.
Does it have a safety? Do you know where the safety is? Can you engage and disengage the safety without fumbling and unwittingly aiming it at people? (Yes, that was me at one time, and yes I got yelled at.) Can you load it quickly and smoothly? Do you how your gun works (its “manual of arms”)? I have a .22 revolver that requires the hammer to be half-cocked in order for the cylinder to release for loading. It’s different from every other gun I have.
I only know that because I “dated” my gun. I took it to a range here in Georgia and I spent a whole weekend getting to know that one gun. See, it sounds like dating doesn’t it?
Why do I press so hard on getting to know your gun well? Because you want to be able to rely on it if and when a criminal is coming through your window. That’s not the time to aim, pull the trigger and…realize you haven’t released the safety.
Know where the safety is (if your gun has one), flip that switch and pull! The goal is confidence. A predator can tell if you’re brandishing a gun for the third time in your life. But if you’ve taken the time to empower yourself through safety courses and lots of range time and practice, your assailant may begin to rethink things.
Each gun has its own weight, quirks, and action (how the gun fires). Get to know yours. Pay attention to its personality. Love it and treat it well and it will take good care of you.
It’s The Perfect Accessory For Every Outfit
If you leave your phone at home, how can you text, check Insta or take selfies later? The same goes for your gun (assuming you have a carry permit). A gun left in your drawer at home is no good to you when some mouth-breathing tweaker decides he wants your purse while it’s still on your arm.
We have seen attacks on people in movie theatres, churches, grocery stores, schools, and various random public places. Those are enough reasons to strap on your most important accessory with every outfit. When choosing your firearm, think about concealment in terms of your wardrobe and where you feel it is most comfortable and invisible on your person.
Amazon has affordable ankle, leg, and waist holsters made of neoprene and velcro. There are also tank tops with hidden compartments between the breasts or under the armpit for maximum concealment. They take some getting used to, so give it trial runs around the house, walking the dog, or making quick trips to the store.
Guard against publicly adjusting, posturing weirdly or fidgeting with your weapon. The idea is to be as discreet as possible. Being a woman with a weapon already makes you a dark horse in terms of being armed. Don’t squander your opportunity to leverage some power in a dire situation by inadvertently revealing that you’re carrying a firearm.
From one woman to another, I commend you on your brave decision to arm yourself. Whatever your reason may be for purchasing a gun, rest easy in the knowledge that it’s your constitutional right and it is God-given right. Even the Bible encourages personal safety and proper boundaries when it comes to physical well-being.
You don’t have to be a firearm aficionado on all makes and models. You just have to be an expert on YOUR gun. Take the time to become competent and comfortable with it. After you do, I can’t begin to explain the feeling of power and self-confidence you will begin to feel.
Stay safe, ladies.
Excellent article. Great advice for men who are new gun owners, too.
I would add that people should always verify information for themselves. Some LEOs likely know their local gun laws, but many don’t and consequently provide bad advice. Can’t tell you how many times a LEO has told me that a gun “X” or magazine “Y” is illegal in CA, while certain exemptions exist for ownership or use. One time, an established LGS that’s been in the area for literally decades argued with me (first a counter employee, then the store manager) that all guns require registration and there is no such thing as a pre-1899 provision. They wouldn’t even look it up to confirm, and shooed me away, losing my potential purchase of the 1897 lever gun they had available on consignment sale.
Look up your local (state/county/city) laws for yourself to ensure you know what you need to deal with.
At big box stores like Bass Pro and Cabelas I never met anyone working their who knew much about guns.
I met some at small lgs. Even then though it just depends.
Like any business they push products they make money easy on. It’s best to always research what you want just ask for it.
Great advice for “men” with a bun from the west coast
I agree. There’s a lot of good advice here for any first-time shooter.
If there are any first-timers reading, welcome to the club! Have a good time, and please be safe.
I think women who understand and exercise thier Second Amendment right are the force that will deepen this nation’s commitment to it. I respect them tremendously.
Very good article and is true I taught firearms from 1972 to present women can be a real challenge (some not all) but being proficient with your firearm is necessary for your survival no one out there wants to have to shoot anyone but if it’s you or them it has to be them. Good luck good hunting!!!!
. I don’t mean take your gun when you go on dates with other people. Unless you feel you need to. To which I say “girl, you deserve better.”
Why wouldn’t you? If you are just starting dating, you probably don’t know the person well enough to assume you can trust them, also, your date isn’t the only potential threat.
It was mostly a joke. Take your gun where you feel you need it.
Hope this never comes up during a date; So begs the question, is that a loaded gun in your pocket or just happy to see me? Either way, could result in a negligent discharge. (Ok, I’m done with the jokes).
And as a practical matter you don’t have to carry a handgun that’s at all conspicuous and—mot important—if nobody knows you’re carrying you are much better off and much safer keeping the fact that you are armed secret. In this day and age the only time you should announce that you are armed . . . is when you need to. I had this point driven home in a very convincing way when I discovered that my department chair had a Glock concealed in a false compartment of her purse. And she was ready to shoot that guy.
Very well done ! Good advice for anyone.
Good article however I might add Shoot,Shoot and Shoot as often as one can.
Definitely more fun than golf.
Agreed on both, and if one cannot make it to the range, dry fire, some where safe in the house. I shot my first glock low-left, instead of wasting ammo, I went home, in my garage and did 50 trigger pulls each dry fire session, a few times a weeks. Returning to the range I was on target. Carry at home to see what clothes conceal best and if a belly band is comfortable enough.
“I don’t mean take your gun when you go on dates with other people. Unless you feel you need to.”
I disagree. You should always feel the need to. It’s the whole point to carrying a gun. You don’t get to dictate where is safe and where is not when you are out in public.
The best reference book I’ve ever seen for new gun owners is “The Cornered Cat” by Kathy Jackson.
Written by a woman, from a woman’s point of view for other women who are new to guns. I recommend reading it from cover to cover even if you happen to be a man who is new (or even not-so new) to guns. Even experienced gun owners have lots to learn here. There’s a LOT of solid, brass-tacks, practical information there. Stuff like how to pick out a gun that fits your hand, or a holster, how to conceal it, how to handle kids & guests when you (mostly mom) have guns in the house. Also lots about gun handling & safety whether you have a pistol or revolver & differences between the two.
This book is basically everything a new gun owner should know to begin this new (and maybe a little scary) journey to not being a victim & being responsible for your own (and your family’s) safety.
You can buy the book on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0982248792?tag=duckduckgo-ffnt-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1
or you can read it online here: https://www.corneredcat.com/contents/
For a quick rundown of the book & the incredible information within, at least read this – “The Most Dangerous Place in the World” https://www.corneredcat.com/article/introduction/the-most-dangerous-place-in-the-world/
In any case, if you check out the free information from the links above, I recommend that you fork out a measly $20 for the book. If for nothing else than to show support for a lady who is “One Of Us” and has spent a lot of time & effort to support all of us. GOOD authors should be paid for their work & there was obviously lots of work involved in this book. Read it. Decide for yourself.
I have never met Kathy Jackson nor am I affiliated in any way other than reading her book & pointing out this incredible work to anyone who is beginning the new “Gun Owner and/or Concealed Carry Journey”. It just works.
I thought you meant “The World’s Most Dangerous Places” by Robert Young Pelton. One of the BEST books I’ve read. It’s not a travelog for tourists. Just real life on-the-street stuff in different countries. I wish he’d make a new edition.
Edit to clarify:
Just re-read my post & needed to clarify …
I loved your article & it touched on a lot of things people new to guns need to know. This is not a “What color shirt should I buy” thing, its life changing decision(s) for responsible humans trying to make responsible decisions . There are lots of moving parts here & you have some extremely valid & practical pointers & basic knowledge presented here. Rebecca, you have a solid grasp of the situation here with new shooters & your knowledge & presentation here are impeccable. I never meant to make light of that nor negate your contributions with references to Ms. Jackson’s work.
I look forward to reading more of your articles/books & passing them along to my new friends who are just beginning this journey.
Thank you for your suggestions and discussion on the topic. I don’t take offense easily, so no worries my friend! Thank you for the kind comments.
I bought my first gun about 4 years ago. I got my LTC a year ago. I always carry when out. My best advise for someone who wants to carry, find the carry method most comfortable for you. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t carry.
Advice Tip #5: Don’t sweep/laze a firing line for a photo op.
Advice Tip #6: If your handgun target looks like you patterned it with a shotgun, just use a shotgun.
If #6 is still true a year after you buy the gun…then just use a shotgun.
As long as it’s inside the 10″W x 18″T box it will do. That being center mass with multiple rounds. Generally will solve the problem.
The one thing left off the list. Is the most important. Mindset. Being able to use your firearm and not being afraid to kill if necessary. Make your peace with yourself. long before the need to defend yourself happens. Saying you can shoot another person is easy. Pulling the trigger is a different story.. People have been taught that killing another person is wrong. For many people that is a difficult line yo cross. Even when their life is on the line.
Disagree. That accuracy is good enough. For real. Having all your shots on top of eachother looks cool for the photo op and all, but that’s not realistic shooting in a DGU. In a real DGU you won’t have time to carefully aim, use a bench rest, breathe, and squeeze, then reassess and steadily aim and squeeze again. You’ll have enough time to draw and pull the trigger as fast as you can.
Yes and no
When a person first starts shooting, it is not realistic to hit the ten ring with every shot. The idea is to spend time at the range and improve as time goes on.
You are correct that in a defensive situation, a person cannot expect to take their time with proper aim. A miss becomes increasingly likely. Even with the best shooters. But without practice, a person is exponentially weakened. Shooting is a skill and a mindset. You have to spend time at it to get good and then you won’t have to worry so much about the DGU.
Rebecca, that was a very good article. But. Be careful of giving LEO carte blanche on teaching firearms training. I know a little about it. I got my LEO Firearms Instructor certification about thirty years ago. (Has it really been that long?) I used to say that there are firearms instructors and bullet hole counters. I saw so many of my fellow instructors give a problem shooter another box of ammo and send them back to the line. Instead of taking them to the side and working with them. I had guys ask me why I did that. I always replied, “Because it takes less ammo to teach them to shoot than it does for them to figure it on their own.” As I walked away I always thought, “You idiot.” LEO does not have a monopoly on this mindset. I first saw it in the military. I thought, “WTF?” Then in a few expensive shooting schools. Some of the best shooting I’ve ever seen was on civilian, military and law enforcement ranges. Some of the worst shooting I’ve ever seen was on civilian, military and law enforcement ranges. Spend your money wisely.
Most cops are retarded, if they were smarter they would be firemen. That’s when they aren’t vicious criminals so you’re lucky if you’re dealing with a retard with a badge.
Meter. TROLL ALERT! The stupid is strong in this one! Laughing, I am!
How did I do guys?
Refine the delivery a bit, and you’ll do fine.
(I was gonna offer a few pointers based on extensive experience, but thought the better of it. Why give your enemy your playbook? Watch how the successful troll hunters do it, and develop your own version of it, with your particular strengths… 😉 )
Geoff, did you hear anything about several boats going on the middle grounds this past weekend? They were overnighting when some weather blew up.
Tactica defense, which is a concealment company for women, has about the nicest belly band I’ve seen. Its pretty much the same as alien gear’s(same company) but its all integrated in a single unit.
Can yall quit using that stupid picture of the glock coming out of the purse? The damn slide doesn’t even have a back plate on it
Your right, I didn’t even notice that. That’s funny.
I’ve seen it at least 3-4 times on TTAG in the last couple months. It also looks like they dragged it around behind a truck for a few miles on the highway
It’s a prop photo. That’s all you guys got out of this article? You guys need more nits to pick.
A reminder of how much we’ve regressed.
It’s only 50 years since I walked into a store (In Connecticut! mind you) and purchased my 2nd firearm of my life a Ruger .22 pistol. Needed a drivers license to prove my age. Walked out after the purchase.
We really should be ashamed of how we’ve been cowed and coerced into giving up an essential (they’re ALL essential) right to government suppression and over control and for what advantage did we?
Good advice. Especially becoming familiar with your gun.
How it feels, carries, handles, and functions.
This may be easier for men as we like doo-dads and fiddling with things.
Done properly, it re-inforces gun safety habits and let’s you build muscle memory of how it functions.
I also recommend some fun shooting to go along with directed training. Also a reason to buy a 22 in addition to your carry. Light recoil and cheaper shooting – but it’s still good practice.
” I don’t mean take your gun when you go on dates with other people. ”
Unless you go to:
“…movie theatres, churches, grocery stores, schools, and various random public places.”
One thing, call it 1a, is missing. Rent a variety of guns and see what feel best in your hands before you buy. It’s worth the money. Most guns are “good” shooters but each one feels different to each person based on hand size, perceived recoil, the sights, safety or not, etc.