Gabby and I at the NRA Conference
Gabby is one of those celebrities that just instantly seems “normal” and “down to earth”. I think it is the latter that makes her most appealing to so many female shooters. In today’s celebrity crazed and cut throat world, filled with so many self absorbed, narcissistic women – it is so refreshing to find a woman to inspire us and one that we can connect with as “a woman just like us”.
So let me introduce you to Gabby,
Gabriela “Gabby” Franco was born and raised in Barquisimeto, Venezuela and like most girls she was active in the typical sports of swimming and gymnastics. She had never been introduced to a gun nor been to a shooting range until the day her dad took her when she was 11. She realized how difficult it was to shoot a bullseye every time, which made her only want to try over and over and over again until she got better. Since this first day she knew shooting was a “different” kind of sport and she was hooked and fell in love with it.
Gabby became part of the Female Junior Shooting Team of the State of Lara (Venezuela) along with her 2 sisters where she trained every day for 3-4 hours in preparation for national competitions. At the age of 16 Gabby became part of the Venezuelan Olympic Team and won her first International Silver Medal at the Bolivarian Games in Peru in 1997. Although completely surrounded by men, she says “I never felt different, I was just part of a team” Since then Gabby became one of the favorite pistol shooters of the Venezuelan Team competing in 14 different countries in 5 years and earning at least a dozen International titles. Gabby was the Venezuelan National Champion for several years and her last match was in Brazil in the South American Games, where she won 3 Gold Medals. Gabby moved to the USA in 2002 and started working in the Firearms Industry becoming more involved in the USPSA and with tactical shooting.
I asked Gabby about personal defense and if it was part of her mindset as a competitive shooter. She shares “the vast majority of the shooters were police officers or in the military with extensive experience with firearms and they all carried concealed. I heard every day about crimes and how criminals used firearms and that crime was increasing in Venezuela. From these men, I learned about defending my own life. I believe in my right to preserve my life at all costs, because as I learned from my fellow shooters in Venezuela, criminals only care about their lives not mine.”
We then moved on to the subject of the large numbers of women coming into gun ownership and I asked her what she thought is the greatest challenge they face and how she would encourage them?
She talked about her seminar “Tough Women In Pink” and shared “I always help them to understand that fear of guns is nothing more than fear of the unknown. There is nothing wrong with fear and it is a natural instinct. It will keep someone aware and more vigilant and help to insure that she follows the firearm safety rules. What is not good is NOT WANTING to overcome these fears. This is a weak mindset and puts a women in the position of a victim. It’s like driving a car or a motorcycle for the first time, after practice and doing it a lot, the fear disappears and it becomes something more natural”.
“Understanding and accepting our limitations makes us strong”, she continued, “knowing that there are certain things we cannot change like our physical strength, height, etc., helps us look for other ways to reach our goals. I am a petite woman; I am only 5’ tall and weigh no more that 105 lbs, and am seen by most as tiny little girl. Yes, this physically is a fact but this doesn’t mean I am weak. I may be small but I am trained and ready to do my best”.
This is a powerful lesson for all of us. If we know what our limitations are and really take a good look at them and understand exactly what they are, we can then strategize ways to train to compensate for them and minimize our limitations.
Being that Gabby is so entrenched in the world of firearms and travels all over the country, I was curious what she thought the future held for women shooters.
Gabby believes the future is in our hands as female shooters, and it is our responsibility to shape our future in it. “I believe that as long as women don’t lose their femininity, and understand we don’t have to be like a male shooter and if women undertstand the need to keep practicing, we definitely can change this male dominated sport. Women must understand that owning a firearm and shooting it once a year is not safe, and it is not responsible. Women must also understand that owning a gun should not be trendy. Be safe, be responsible and defend the second amendment.”
Gabby’s passion to help women break free from a victim mentality and to train hard and to be all they can be is inspiring. It is so refreshing to have a woman like Gabby helping to shape the future of women’s shooting.
You can see more about Gabby on her website and follow her on Facebook!
View or buy Gabby’s new book “Trouble Shooting – Mastering Your Pistol Marksmanship” She has autographed them just for TWAW!!