What Not To Wear… when learning how to shoot a firearm

What Not To Wear

Who Not to Take

What Not To Say…when learning how to shoot a firearm.

“But I don’t want my husband to teach me how to shoot a gun.”

Yup. I’ve heard that line a LOT in my years of firearm self-defense training.  And it usually also comes with a “men aren’t patient enough.”  While I wholeheartedly disagree with the overall patience complaint from women toward men, I do wholeheartedly agree that learning how to shoot from your husband, father, son, boyfriend, or even a male instructor is not the wisest choice a woman could make. 

Sorry ladies. This is not going to be a male bashing blog.  In fact, I learned the majority of what I know about self-defense exclusively from men – especially, my expert marksman husband and a couple of patient Marine friends of mine. But I have learned what women really need in order to be properly instructed in the competent handling of a firearm and how they need to learn it from my female students. This bit of information will outline some of the points of difference between a woman and a man in learning how to competently use a firearm.

Because firearms are stereotypically such a “manly” thing, men need to stop trying to introduce them to the women as a means of making the female tougher.  Women don’t want to strip themselves of their kind and gentle virtues. That’s part of what makes them women.  One of the primary reasons a woman has any desire to learn how to use a firearm is a result of her fierce instinct to take care of her children and loved ones.  That’s what an instructor needs to address.  As such, women are more apt to learn how to handle themselves with a firearm in order to ensure that they are able to maintain peace and order in their lives. 

Men need to understand that women are physiologically more sensitive to the deep bass sound than men are. This is why you are more likely to have a car banging the bass sound with the windows rolled down accompanied by a male driver rather than a female. When instructed by males, they are seemingly oblivious to this affect.  And if they are unaware of it, it registers to a female as something freakish, wrong, or inept.  As women we’re used to running an entire household, annual budgets, creative menu planning, power social networking, puke, pooh, blood, emotional breakdown intervention, mental manipulation, calendaring, multi-tasking, etc.  We women definitely have the fortitude to be good at whatever we set our minds to.  Regardless, the new sound of a round exploding in the middle of our hands is not something we’re initially oriented to handle.  We women are simply more sensitive to it, and boy does it rock our world—but not in the way it does for the head banger rock hard males.  The initial, uncommon sounds of a firearm going off, even a small caliber .22, often rattles a woman to the core literally.  It is something that women have to get used to. And trying to do so when they are in the midst of the company of a man that they care about, would like to make proud, and consider themselves a partner to is NOT the ideal scenario. Holding a firearm for the first time is tough enough.  Men, I don’t recommend having the special female in your life try to do it around you.  It’s just plain stressful. The woman is usually trying to push through an instinct that has been fostered all of their lives that a firearm is a big, bad, scary thing.  They don’t need the added pressure of not making you happy, pushing your patience, or doing something that’s not technically correct as well.    

9mm-gun-casingWhile men are occasionally whacked on the head, arms, or elsewhere with a loose casing, they typically think that’s pretty cool—a sign of competence and “really shooting.”  I doubt they would think this way however, if the hot casing were to make it down a man’s pants and lodge itself in the family jewels.  Unfortunately women rarely get the advice to refrain from wearing low cut, scoop necked or open necked tops when a man takes them shooting so as not to get an unpleasant and uninvited hot visitor in their bra. Only another woman would think to caution them against inappropriate clothing.  Oh, and the make-up and jewelry.  You may want to refrain from wearing them when you go shooting as well.  The gun powder that you get on your face and hands is definitely not something the jewelers or department store manufacturers considered when they make their beauty and warranty claims.

Women don’t need to restrict themselves to a particular caliber either. While there is a great deal of viable evidence that a particular caliber has more stopping power than another, the stopping power is useless if you can’t handle the firearm.  Just work up to a caliber and grip that feels comfortable to you.  Gun ranges usually have guns to rent and test out so that you don’t make an expensive purchasing error.  Use such conveniences for all it’s worth until you’re completely comfortable with a particular grip, caliber, slide, trigger pull, and action. If you are only comfortable with a .22 caliber, it’s sure better than nothing.  A lot better.  Most would be criminals wouldn’t know one caliber from another anyway.  All they see is that you have a gun, or that you’re using a gun.  Period.

Women do not need to sacrifice or hide their femininity and fashion sense in order to appreciate the protection and peace of mind that learning how to use a firearm can give them. No, women do not need to get rid of their long nails for shooting. (Just scrub them really well afterwards to get the gun powder and gases removed.)   Nor do they need to begin wearing fatigues, carry ugly purses, wear hideous concealed carry vests, don macho belts, or look like they gained 50 pounds on their hips just so that they can carry a firearm with them for protection.  Learning the ropes on these kinds of issues merely comes with getting your information from another woman usually…as opposed to Bubba who wears one gun in his oversized belt buckle, one in his military boot, one in his fanny pack, and one under his hat. 

By the way, it’s a firearm—not a weapon.  A 5 inch stiletto heel, hairspray, or a credit card is a weapon. Let’s not get them confused. 

Here’s to learning…


Women of Caliber exclusively trains women, by women, the skills of physical and firearm self-defense, including the UT Concealed Firearm Permit.  For more information go to www.womenofcaliber.com


Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.
You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.  

3 Responses

  1. Excellent post.

    A lot of truths in there.

    While taking my PPITH/PPOTH Instructors Course, the subject of women “learning” differently came up.

    Something we have to be concious of. The easiest solution we found at our Club, where, PPITH is offered to meet the MI CPL standard, was to run courses separately for women.

    Personally I feel that it enhances the experience and removes “negative” influences that take away from the material being covered.

    I hold the opinion that the women receive and added benefit of only the instructors know who the women are.

    Women in their 20’s up to ladies in their 70’s have attended.

    The gratifying thing is to watch “meekness” replaced by confidence over the 2 days.

  2. Amen to the hot things in the bra! That happened to me very recently. Had no idea it would! Looked like I had hickies all over my neck on down! lol and ouch!

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