My First Time…Shooting

Fashion-sense-Shooting-range-t-shirtI’ve only written a few articles for Preparedness Pro related to firearm self-defense but I often hear questions from folks asking how a city girl got “converted” to this form of self-defense. Self-defense is a necessary component of preparedness. The escalating crime and violence inflicted on our law abiding citizens is indicative of this. If this is what is happening when “times are good” imagine what will transpire when the slightest amount of chaos and discomfort occurs. I believe that a firearm is the ideal form of self-defense. And because I believe that, I’m going to share with you my story of how I went from a city girl who wasn’t raised around such thoughts and tools to becoming a firearms instructor and marksman.

People assume that as a self-defense and firearms instructor that I’m some kind of super bad “you know what” and have always been “fine” with guns, etc. Well, they would be dead wrong.

When I married my husband I was a city slicker from Columbus, OH. I had never been around guns. I was raised that guns were super bad, super dangerous, etc.

As my brand new husband (a Utah mountain boy) and I were moving items into our new home just a week after our wedding, I found myself bringing in a couple of heavy black cases. The cases were small and I couldn’t fathom what in the world could be inside them that would be so heavy. Finally, curiosity got the better of me and I asked my husband what the heck they had in them. He sheepishly looked at me and said “Oh. I guess we should have talked about that before we got married.” As it turned out, the cases had handguns in them. As it turns out, I didn’t get a mountain boy. I got a real cowboy.

This day of discovery began the long 12+ months of him trying to convince me that it would be perfectly OK for me to “allow” him to get his concealed carry permit. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of him carrying a gun around all the time. To his great credit my husband was patient in educating me and waiting for me to be OK with him taking a more proactive stance in his 2nd Amendment rights. So finally I relented and “let” him get his concealed carry permit, with the understanding that I wasn’t yet ready for him to actually “carry.” So his patience continued. Finally, I decided that he was perfectly capable and competent and this was important to him so I put aside my inhibitions and relented my “permission” as a “birthday present” to him. (Boy howdy did it make him happy!)

Beretta Tomcat photo c/o mk70ss

Beretta Tomcat photo c/o mk70ss

As a natural course of progression, he patiently attempted to get me to try and shoot a gun. So we finally went to a range. He taught me forEVER about safety, handling, etc. All the while I’m thinking, “let’s just get this over with and let me shoot and get out of here, already!” He had me shoot a little Beretta TomCat .32. (This is a little bigger kick than a .22 but less than a 9mm.) Terrified, but trying to be brave, I shot it six times and then began crying, shaking inside, and informed my husband we were done with the shooting exercise.

After this I couldn’t watch action/adventure movies (my favorite genre up to this point) for several weeks. When I saw someone on screen shooting a gun, it suddenly felt much more real to me—no longer pretend. I no longer had the desire to cheer for the good guy and yell “Get ‘em!” Instead, I recalled what I felt were the heavy bass reverberations that I experienced shooting for the first time. After shooting a firearm I felt just how real, instant, and deadly a gun was. And that kind of power in my hand initially scared the crud out of me. I certainly didn’t want to relive it in a movie.

Several weeks later my husband chose to make use of my competitive spirit and convinced me that I should try again and not let this fear get the better of me. So I did. This time he had me shoot a Glock 9mm. I lasted an entire 20 minutes of shooting this gun, hitting the target occasionally, and then informed him that I had met my quota for the day. At least this time I didn’t cry.

So what transpired between the crying, the stress, and such and my now being a firearms and self-defense instructor to women?

First: Purpose. I realized that as our world becomes more volatile, the more likely we will need to defend ourselves in such a manner some day, whether it be protecting our homestead, a family member, virtue, or other scenarios I won’t get into here. It’s naïve of me to think that my “Rambo” of a husband will be there to save the day when I’m in trouble. There is a great likelihood that when something does “go south” my husband will be the one out patrolling the neighborhood, or coming to the aid of others. I realized that I didn’t want to be a liability for him and wanted to be able to stand on my own when it may be necessary.

women-and-guns-silhouetteSecond: Vision. I realized that there were a lot of other women that are in the same shoes as me—their husband may be confident in defending himself physically or with a firearm, but the wives are not. I’m sure it would give a greater peace of mind to those who love their wives to know that their wives can be a protecting asset to the family too. Yet I also know just how hard it was for me to overcome my stigmas about guns, safety, protection, preparedness, and self-defense. Frankly, in spite of my husband being an excellent and patient teacher with me, there are some things that a man would never think of when instructing a woman, things that I think would have made it easier for me to come around and be more confident in my ability to defend myself without hurting innocent bystanders. I think learning from a man is difficult for a woman…especially when it’s a husband or a boyfriend. There’s already an enormous amount of pressure in this new experience without stressing that you’re disappointing or not measuring up to the expectations of someone you love as well.

Additionally I realized that there were also a lot of non-married women that aren’t sufficiently protected simply because of a lack of knowledge. When I was Marine-trained to learn physical self-defense (by a couple of men), I realized that there were better ways to communicate and thus properly train a woman in order for her to be effective and proactive, rather than reactive to fear or potential “what if” scenarios. I felt that it would be better to prevent those scenarios from ever happening rather than trying to educate someone traumatized after the fact.

Assault crimes have continued to rise in our nation. Criminals are becoming more brazen in their efforts to win the “Oscar” for the biggest, boldest, most gruesome assault. I realized that simply maintaining the status quo for women and their ability to truly defend themselves really was no longer an option. And yet they didn’t have a lot of viable answers and training access that fit them perfectly.

Third: Confidence. It’s one thing to have a Concealed Firearm Permit. It’s another to have the mindset that you will be able to use a firearm if necessary, and that you can do so without harming others. I was very fortunate in that I was able to get some unique training that enabled me to hit exactly what I was aiming at, without the “fog of war” intruding, and in a quick-draw fashion. This SKILL made me very competent and confident. This made a HUGE difference in my acceptance of this new responsibility. I was ready to take it on. This confidence made a significant impact on my view of circumstances around me. I no longer seemed to worry as much about things which were out of my control, because I felt in control of the most vital matters, protecting myself and others.

Fourth: Clarity. Martial arts and boxing training are great for physical activity, confidence, and discipline. But for the majority of ALL students, they are ineffective, and even dangerous (because of the false sense of competence they may invoke) in the heat of a real assault. I’m sorry to offend anyone when I say this, but reality can’t be subject to a popularity. Martial arts training is popular. But it’s unrealistic to think that someone can get the kind of instruction necessary to effectively defend themselves physically against a psychotic perpetrator in the heat of the moment. Unless you’re Chuck Norris or Jackie Chan, it’s not likely you’ve instinctively mastered the skills necessary to make these disciplines life-saving. There are too many “moves” to master. There’s too much thinking necessary.

Additionally, it’s too often portrayed that only “beautiful, skinny, and fit women” were capable of using martial arts and boxing techniques in an attempt to protect themselves. Considering that I am over 200 pounds, only 5’ 2 ½” and overall out of shape, I don’t like that idea very much. I don’t care for the social insinuation that chubby women are ideal marks for perpetrators. That’s why I had an “Aha Moment.” My personal discovery was that the competent use of a firearm far surpasses the effectiveness of a “crouching tiger” or a “right cross” and it is no respecter of what you had for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the last decade! While the knocking someone unconscious may be a more compassionate approach to defending yourself, I had to come to a point where I no longer fostered compassion towards someone who would take me away from my family, cripple me, harm my children, or others that I loved or who were helpless to defend themselves. And whether one is scrawny, hefty, young, or ancient, the competent use of a firearm coupled with some street smarts is a sure equalizer between good and evil.

After commiserating with so many women over the years who were just like me in their fear and other inhibitions of defending themselves, I SO wanted to share my relatively newfound knowledge with as many women as I could. I wanted them to have the opportunity to learn from a very REAL woman who completely understood and overcame their same fears—not just learn enough so that they can legally carry a firearm, but to learn enough so that they can skillfully use one when necessary, and can defend themselves when necessary. I also saw value in training women real street smarts with the proper use of other methods of self-defense in the event a firearm isn’t readily available, malfunctions, or could endanger others.

Utah Concealed Firearm Permit Certified Instructor.

Utah Concealed Firearm Permit Certified Instructor.

To this end I’ve spent years becoming certified as the most highly certified female NRA instructor in the Western States as well as a certified Utah CFP Instructor (Concealed Firearm Permit). In addition I’ve endeavored to learn and master as much as my military, DEA, and other helpful experts have to teach me so that I can expertly pass on real life skills to people (especially women) all over. I’ve also worked closely with my husband to create an exclusive technique that enables a shooter to consistently hit exactly what they are aiming at, and ONLY what they are aiming at, with only a couple hours of hands-on instruction!

And that, is my story.

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My first shot was at a summer camp rifle range, as an adult leader; to my surprise it was a bullseye.

I had not allowed my older children to even have water pistols and had a NO WAR TOYS poster that I had planned to decoupage on their toy box - but never finished the project :) When they were old enough they each took an NRA Hunter Safety class. I wanted them to know that guns can be deadly, that they are not toys. Their dad took them hunting and the outcome was good. They learned to defend themselves and are able to provide game for their families if needed.

This is a very different world that we are living in now and I firmly believe that having the ability to defend oneself is important. Teaching children at an early age how to handle a gun safely is important too. Thanks Kellene for sharing your experience. You may have saved a few lives.

I'd like to learn about when your classes are as well.


Great story and I love the insight on the mindset that it take to truly defend yourself!

Not very often that you here self defense from a womens point of view Thanks for the great post this was my first time here and this made me an instant fan of your site.

I would be interested in a firearms and/or self defense class for women. I'm pretty excited because I just bought a Glock 22 for my husbands birthday gift. He's gonna be so surprised. He has his CFP and has encouraged me to get mine. I'm totally ready to take the protection of our family into our own hands. I agree with you Kellene, I'd rather be engaged in the protection of our family rather than standing on the sideline cheering my husband on to victory or feeling like an incapable, helpless victim with no clue what to do. Thanks for your story! It's inspiring.

Where and when do you teach this? I would love to take a class on firearms and self defense for women.

Me too!!!

I am female and been shooting since I was old enough to hold a gun. I was probably about five years old when I shot my first 22 rifle. My Dad was a huge hunter and a great shot. We ate deer bear and elk for most of my 6 years growing up. So I always knew the power of guns, but never feared them. I fell in love shooting handguns when I got my 1st .357 mag at 16, and loved going out and shooting cans. I did get so good I could usually put 2 shots in a can thrown in the air from the draw. Sadly out of practice now. I now have a .357, 45 ACP and a 12 gauge for home. Yes women can shoot large caliber handguns with a little practice and proper technique. I have shot .44 mag with no problems and I was 17 years old 5'3" and weighed about 120. I am a "big bore" large caliber fan. Start small and build up. You don't learn to drive nails starting with a 5 pound sledge hammer.
A few items I think everyone should consider before purchasing any weapon.
1. You must be absolutely certain if you are going to use a gun you will kill with it. A gun is a tool just like a hammer, you can't scare nails in, you have to drive them in. If you have to pull a gun you are out of options you must shoot to kill.
2. If you aren't 100% certain you can kill get pepper spray, or a tazer.
3.Talk to your local law enforcement about the laws for self-defense. Some places have a maximum retreat law, basically you must run from the bad guy to the furthest point from his entry into your home before you shoot or you maybe charged.

Women of Caliber frequently scehdules classes in our local area for now. I'll put the two of you on our notication list. My husband handles that end of things. So I need ot stop running long enough to catch him and find out when he's planning on the next one to be scheduled. :-)

Please add me to your list for a firearms class. Thanks

Gals, I have to check with Mr. Scheduler. I'll be sure to post when I do know. okey dokey?


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