By Barbara Baird, Women’s Outdoor News
While shooting guns is part of the protocol for our Special Forces, it’s a very special day for Special Forces wives when they get to fire guns in a training session on a range. On Sat., Oct. 25, 16 Army wives of 3rd Special Forces Group from Ft. Bragg attended a gun safety course hosted by the Special Forces Charitable Trust and sponsored by Remington Arms. Oak Grove Technologies Training Center, adjacent to Camp Mackall, N.C., provided the range.
The Trust catered to the women’s comfort, providing designer coffee, donuts, childcare and lunch – along with professional level instruction, ammo, range and guns. James Otto, a Country-Western singer from Nashville, joined the ladies for the day, and sang to them at lunchtime. The course ran for 6 hours. Some women had never shot a gun and others came with minimal experience. At the end of the day, the women had successfully completed slow-fire, rapid fire and even a Mozambique Drill (2 to the body, 1 to the head).
“This was our inaugural gun safety course, which we partnered with Remington to do. The purpose was primarily to teach gun safety, but the real agenda was to support the wives of soldiers who are deployed,” said Terry English, president of the Special Forces Charitable Trust. “I think they had a great day. They not only learned how to shoot, but they also made some new friends and they left here a little stronger than when they got here.” Several of the board officers and even more volunteers worked to make the day run smoothly. It appeared obvious that these people had planned missions and achieved goals several times before this event.
Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Remington Arms brought Olympic shooter and nationally renowned instructor Gabby Franco and pro competition shooter and former Army Marksmanship Unit member Travis Tomasie to the event to provide top-notch instruction. The pair spent time in the classroom, teaching the women about the anatomy of a semi-auto firearm. The women also learned how to load magazines and about the fundamentals of good shooting. Franco said, “You must learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is the only way you will progress in the shooting sports.”
Franco and Tomasie answered questions throughout the course. “There’s no such thing in here as a stupid question,” said Tomasie. A firestorm of questions followed, pertaining to gun handling and safety. These students came eager to learn.
As the day and the guns warmed up, so did the wives. Their enthusiasm for learning new shooting skills rose as they gained more confidence in their gun safety and handling abilities. Loading magazines, working on magazine changes, dealing with malfunctions — all these skills started to seem less scary and more doable as the day progressed. The women shot Para Pro Custom semi-autos in 9mm. They shot them well.
The Wives Talk
“When they sent around the email announcing the event, I was thrilled for the opportunity to get to work with a firearm. A lot of us have husbands who spend a lot of time overseas so we’re home alone. Most of us have our concealed-carry permits, but we don’t get to go shooting very often. The fact that we get to come out here and work on our proficiency and the ammo is free and we’re getting fed and they’re watching our kids, it’s just a nice thing,” said Randee.
“I’ve heard women talk about how excited their husbands are that we’re here and we’re learning to work with our firearms. They worry a little less about us, and when they come home, this is something that we can share with our spouses,” she added.
“I took a concealed carry class last year. They were more focused on safety and laws, whereas this is actual practice. … As I get more comfortable, my shot groups are getting tighter, even though this is my second time of shooting. I hope they do this again with shotguns and rifles!” said Tiffany.
“I’ve shot at many ranges and this is the best range that I’ve ever been to, by far,” added another participant.
“I’ve been shooting with my husband, because it’s something we can do together. He’s really the best teacher, but I can tell sometimes he gets frustrated with me sometimes, and I want to make him proud. When he found out about this, he was very happy. He said, ‘You need to learn from someone other than me,’” said one wife, who chose to remain anonymous. She credited the class for improving her grip. “I could never remember, but the way he [Tomasie] explained it, I will always remember the way they taught me.”
Her parting shot to women? “Always come out. You can’t go wrong with this knowledge, and you need to be able to work through the fear and the panic.”
“It was fun. I thought it might be intimidating. I’ve never shot a gun before today,” remarked Cassie.
” I think safety is key, and in the country that we live in right now, it’s definitely key because you don’t have a choice. I don’t want my gun rights taken away from me and I want to learn how to shoot and I want to be an effective shooter and I want that to be a part of who I am!” stated another wife.
One of the wives, Margo, stepped off the shooting line with a big grin on her face. “I have had very minimal shooting experience, but after this, I feel so much more empowered and knowledgable about what I’m doing. I know the parts of a pistol now and how to properly handle it. The confidence is soaring and my adrenaline is rushing and I just want to go back up there and shoot it,” she said.
“It was an incredible opportunity to be able to work with the spouses of Special Forces and to be able to empower them with their marksmanship,” said Tomasie.
Franco agreed. “The biggest deal with women and firearms is that they want to be able to protect themselves, but they don’t know where to start … comfort comes with knowledge. You can put value on knowledge. My Olympic coaches taught me to be selfless. I want them to be the best that they can be, and you can achieve that if you give them all of you and we did that today.”
The instructors liked the choice of gun. “For home defense and practice, you have less recoil and a good grip with the Para Pro Custom that the ladies shot today. You don’t have to worry about whether the gun is going to pinch. The pistol really helped with that matter,” said Franco.
As a reminder of the day, Remington gifted each of the ladies with an R-51. “It has a smaller grip than the Pro Custom, and not a lot of recoil. If they choose to carry it, it will be perfect for concealed carry,” added Franco.