Last summer at the Smart Girl Summit in Atlanta, I was enjoying a fun afternoon at Quick Shot shooting range with our group of “Armed & Fabulous” Smart Girls, when I had the opportunity to briefly help someone who wanted to learn but was very inexperienced in handling a firearm. She was my first “student” as a brand new NRA Basic Pistol Instructor. In that experience, I found the satisfaction of women helping and empowering each other, and strong support of our 2nd Amendment rights, to be common denominators of the two organizations I am so proud to be a part of – Smart Girl Politics and The Well Armed Woman (TWAW). While TWAW is not a political organization and does not participate in anything related to politics, its mission to “Equip, Educate, & Empower” women is very much on the same level as what we do here at SGP.
TWAW was founded in 2012 by Carrie Lightfoot. Carrie found herself in the vulnerable position of self-protector as a then-single mom whose children had suddenly grown up and left the nest. We moms all know how fast that happens! She found her solution when a friend took her shooting, and in her quest to find resources and equipment suitable for women, she recognized a need to break the strong male dominance of the firearms industry and make it less intimidating and more accessible to women. She took that vision and used her strong business experience to fill that need by founding The Well Armed Woman. TWAW has grown in just over 3 years from a few boxes full of papers in her Arizona living room to a nationally recognized non-profit organization with over 6000 members forming 207 chapters in 45 states. Carrie also offers a non-NRA TWAW Instructor course for members who are already NRA instructors certified in Basic Pistol and Personal Protection in the Home. This is a comprehensive course designed to focus on the differences of women firearm owners, and meeting their needs in the classroom and on the range. The more we train, the more we discover how much more there is to learn, and for women to be specially trained to teach other women fills a huge void in the industry.
Each TWAW chapter is required to partner with a shooting range in their area, and the support from our respective ranges has been phenomenal. The monthly chapter meeting time is divided between classroom education and range time to practice our shooting skills. We focus on safe firearm handling at all times, and use our class time to discuss related topics including basic beginning shooting skills, range etiquette and safety, choosing the right firearm for you (which is usually not the one your husband/boyfriend thinks you should have), gun care and cleaning, defensive awareness, and developing gun handling skills such as safely drawing from a holster, and working our way through the NRA Winchester Marksmanship Qualification program. This is all done in a comfortable environment conducive to building confidence, no matter what your level of shooting skill. Guest speakers sometimes join us for topics such as first aid for gunshot wounds, industry reps, law enforcement, etc. Last year my chapter’s local Cabela’s hosted us for a fun holster fashion show. We walked the “runway” right in front of Wildlife Mountain, modeling concealed carry purses and various types of holsters made just for women. There is social time as well, and celebrations as the various chapters reach their anniversaries and we celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
Seeing women help and empower each other is an amazing and beautiful thing, and in TWAW we have found a special sisterhood – just like we have as Smart Girls.
Learn more about everything The Well Armed Woman has to offer here: http://twawshootingchapters.org/.
Image courtesy of The Well Armed Woman.