By Jessica Benes Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
Women practice pulling the trigger with a dime balanced on top of the guns. They take turns shooting around a mock shelter to aim at fake wannabe assailants made of wood.
And the ladies form a sentry line of determination as they aim pistols at paper plates stapled to targets 5 yards away.
The Northern Colorado Chapter of The Well Armed Woman formed in February to give women experience and education with handling and shooting guns. The chapter meets once a month and has more than 50 members.
The ladies learn how to clean and assemble guns, assume various shooting positions, practice techniques, and understand the difference between “cover” and “conceal.”
The national Well Armed Woman organization formed in January.
“We have about 90-some chapters and over 2,000 members,” said Suzanne Freehauf, co-leader of the Northern Colorado chapter.
She said the group that meets in Nunn has beginners — women who have never shot before — and advanced students who have competed in shooting competitions.
Freehauf said that with all the publicity over gun ownership and gun laws, she and co-leader Brenda Blake were eager to give women in Northern Colorado a chance to learn more about shooting.
No Intimidation Here
“A lot of the reason why this is great for women is that women want to have relationships with other women. They don’t want to feel like the only person in the world interested in shooting,” Brenda Blake said. “It is very intimidating for a woman to go into a gun store or firing range. You don’t know what you don’t know.”
And because women don’t know what to ask for, they are often convinced to purchase snub-nosed revolvers instead of semi-automatic pistols, she said.
That might be great for some, but the small revolver is hammerless and has no external safeties. This means that the safety is a hard trigger-pull, and because it’s so difficult to pull the trigger, it is hard to shoot and painful. The guns also are small and hard to aim. Blake said women should understand what they are getting.
She said the group is very inclusive. It’s easy to ask for help, and women aren’t afraid to ask questions.
What Women Say
“Want to know why I do this? If anyone ever caught me and decided to lay down their gun for any reason, I wouldn’t know how to get the safety off,” said Debi Friedly of Brighton.
So she decided she wanted to know more about guns. She also does kickboxing and other exercises to work on core strength.
Carolyn Block of Windsor has been to practice three to four times. She said that with everything going on in the world, she wanted to learn how to protect herself. Her husband has a carry permit, and she would eventually like to also get a permit.
“This was a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “I was kind of afraid to pick up the pistol.” She said that she is more comfortable with the weapon now. She respects it and handles it carefully, but she’s not afraid of it any longer.
“Mary, you did well; you killed the bad guy,” she said to her neighbor, Mary Snapp of Greeley.
Snapp is one of the more experienced shooters in the club. Her husband was a police officer, so she has been around weapons for more than 40 years. She practices with him and has done a little bit of competing.
She likes the challenge of the sport and is delighted to see so many women learning to shoot.
“If you’re going to be around guns, you should know how to use them,” Snapp said. “It’s nice to be able to protect myself and know that I’m capable of taking care of business.”