Tangible gifts are so last year. This year, why not think outside of the (gift) box and buy that woman in your life something that’s more about the experience? Give her the ability to pull the trigger. Range Master of Santa Maria offers a Women’s Shoot 101 class that combines a mix of physical self-defense knowledge with gun safety.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SHELLY CONE
Range Master in San Luis Obispo—not affiliated with the Santa Maria shop—offers similar classes on an as-needed basis, meaning women in both counties can learn their way around a weapon.
Fortunately for me, I have a husband who gives me what I want—within reason, of course—whenever I get the whim. Recently, what I wanted was to attend the Women’s Shoot 101 class in Santa Maria, sort of a pre-Christmas gift. So I wasn’t surprised when the night before the first class started he called me over from the back of the house. I was watching Superman, so I protested. “Just come here,” he called. I stomped over. “Really? It’s the most romantic part of the movie: Superman is taking Lois Lane flying.”
“Yeah, well, it’s corny,” he said.
“Well, I’m a girl. I like corny,” I said.
“You also want to shoot a 9mm,” he said and pulled out Rutger pistol. He explained enough to me so that he felt comfortable allowing me to transport it to the class the next night. Inside, I was jumping up and down saying “Yippee!” but outside I simply shrugged and said “That’s cool.”
I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have some preconceived notions going into the class, because I did. When I got there, those notions were shattered. There were women in medical scrubs. There were women in heels. They were young and, ahem, a little more mature—basically every type of woman. The most recent class attracted 25 women in the beginner’s class and eight to 10 women in the advanced session.
Each of the four classes is held once a month and provides an in-depth discussion about everything guns. There are also lessons in women’s self-defense. (I can now successfully fend off an attacker with a credit card, head butt, or one of the girly little barrettes I always have in my hair, thank you very much.)
The class is geared toward beginners and has a heavy emphasis on gun safety. Range Master of Santa Maria came up with the idea for the class because there wasn’t anything else around catering to women, said Range Master owner Joe Degeus. He added that, these days, guns are being found in places like parks and other areas where someone might dispose of or try to hide the weapon, and they’re often places where children might find them.
“I figured if we can teach women enough to take control and disarm a gun and call the police and this can save some kids’ lives, then it’s worth it,” Degeus said.
He said buying a woman a gift certificate for the Women’s Shoot 101 class is also a rewarding gift with a good reason behind giving it: “Empowerment. To empower women and give them more confidence.”
In the class, women learn how to safely hold, load, and disarm a gun, how to hand a gun off to someone else, and, of course, how to aim and shoot.
Shooting a gun for the first time has a different effect on each shooter. While many of the women exited the range with exclamations of “Oh, wow, that was the best thing I’ve ever done,” since I had a gun with a bit of a kick, I wasn’t so sure. In fact, at the time, I could honestly think of like 20 other things I’ve done that were much, much better and didn’t involve recoil or spent cartridges flying back at my head. Then I went to my second class, and I got a little giggly. By my third class I was lining up with the other girls to order the blinged-out eye and ear protection sold by local entrepreneur HauteShot Accessories. Yes, a girl wants to look glamorous, even while blasting a target.
The best reason for buying a gift certificate for Women’s Shoot 101 class? It’s an experience she won’t forget.
Shelly Cone is arts editor for the Sun, New Times’ sister paper to the south, and wants to know how a skinny Angelina Jolie can shoot bad guys with a gun in each hand while running and rolling. Tell her the secret at email@example.com.