You want to own a gun. You are unfamiliar with the firearms community, and you feel intimidated and overwhelmed when you start looking for information on firearms. There are plenty of documents available on multiple websites, but after opening so many tabs that your browser freezes, you just close the window and forget all about it.
I have great news! There are plenty of women who are skilled shooters and instructors who would love to welcome you to the firearms community.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of applying for competency and buying guns, I would like you to be aware of other women who not only own guns but enjoy shooting them so much that it has become a lifestyle.
Leanie Barnard from Athena Defence invited me to attend their Introduction to Firearms training course in Pretoria. Leanie is a florist and a firearms instructor. When Leanie’s husband Pieter bought a gun, she wanted to know how to operate the gun in the case of an emergency. This led to her applying for her competency. After accompanying Pieter to a club shoot, she no longer wanted to stand on the sidelines, and the rest is history.
The training courses offered by Athena Defence provide a safe space where women can come to learn about firearms. Going to a shooting club on your own for the first time can be intimidating, so they offer courses to help you feel at ease and confident to take the next step which can be applying for competency and joining a shooting club. Leanie remarks that she has never felt unwelcome in the shooting community. In fact men encourage women to become firearm proficient as they realise how important it is for women to be able to protect themselves.
I joined the group of women at the Wattlespring Sport Shooting Club for a morning of learning, and of course, shooting! Just like me, some of the women were new to the world of firearms. Others already received their competency but have not fired a gun in a very long time and wanted to refresh their memory. The ladies wanted to be informed about the law and regulations, and they want to have more confidence in their abilities and not be afraid to carry their handguns.
After an informative session on proficiency training, competency, and firearm licensing, Leanie and Pieter helped each lady load and shoot a handgun. After three rounds of shooting, you could see that the ladies were much more comfortable than when the first shots fired. Leanie says that it normal to be afraid, “you have a gun exploding in front of your face.” She adds that it is important to empower yourself and learn new skills.
If you are considering the pros and cons of becoming a gun owner, do not let the fear of being a woman in a “man’s world” keep you from taking the first step. Many women feel exactly the way that you do, and different firearm communities who would welcome you in a heartbeat.
Close bolts and stand by.
Estel De Beer