By: Beverly Jedlinski aka Mrs. Jedi, Marketing, Social Media and Scheduling Director of Modern Samurai Project – MASF Member
Photos by: Bill Thomas of Triple Bravo
At class time, I had held a shotgun exactly once, when Scott Jedlinski (Jedi) took me out to Baraka’s range a few weeks ago at the MASF compound to test out a few of our firearms, and I shot a few rounds with it. That was it. So the concept of walking into a class with the renowned Steve Fisher, whose name I had heard for years as being one of the preeminent firearms trainers in the country, came with a few uncertainties about being prepared.
Within minutes though, Steve’s larger than life and affable personality put everyone at ease, and his straightforward and practical training style set just the right tone for a class filled with novice ladies there to learn a new skill.
This inaugural Mothers / Wives Shotgun Home Defense Class was a private, by invitation only event that was the brainchild of Baraka James and his wife Kyung James. Kyung’s desire to learn to handle a shotgun on her own provided the impetus, and once Baraka mentioned the thought to his friend Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts, the class concept quickly fell into place to include close friends.
The introductory course’s primary objective was to familiarize students with their shotguns, ensuring a solid degree of comfort with operating one upon completion. Steve also wanted to remove “the great fallacies” and “big scary monster myths” about shotguns, which he quickly did. It was an intense day of theoretical study beginning in a home classroom setting, followed by practical application on the range.
To get the day started right, we enjoyed a relaxed, informal coffee gathering, and ended it with a delightful barbecue as Steve commandeered the grill and served up incredible steaks, and Kyung provided a delicious buffet. But the real work took place from 10 am to 4 pm as we moved into a classroom setting for individual introductions, and then Steve delved into the theory portion of the class. Most of the women were there for self-defense training, and I think I was the only one there more for the sport of it. As soon as we finished the lecture, everyone grabbed their gear and headed out to the range where the action began.In Attendance:
11 female students, most having never worked with a shotgun prior to the class, took part in this unique opportunity for in-depth education in a smaller, more personal setting. Bill Thomas of Triple Bravo was on hand to capture an extensive photographic perspective of the day.
The one-day entry-level course was held at Baraka and Kyung James’ home and adjacent MASF outdoor range in Lovettsville. Eleven students and five helpful husbands worked together to carry equipment, guns and supplies; prep the range; staple targets; set up the canopy; clear the range and pack up. The heat and humidity were on, but everyone stayed focused, hydrated and attentive.
The class covered a fairly comprehensive list of topics in just one day, including:
· Safety plan
· Medical brief
· Proper choice and placement of gear
· Different options and accessories
· Effective shooting stance
· Proper weapon grip
· Recoil control
· Sight alignment
· Sight picture using iron sights and electronic optics
· Use of body supported shooting positions
· Trigger control
· Speed reloads
· Tactical reloads
· Malfunctions of the shotgun
· Preferred shooting positions
Fairly simple equipment needs were required:
· Functional and practical shotgun chambered in 12 or 20 gauge
· Clothing suited for outdoor range use
· Hearing protection (electronic preferred)
· Wraparound style eye protection
· Baseball style hats recommended
· A minimum of 200 rounds birdshot #71/2-8, 10 rounds buckshot
· If we have ever heard that we just need to point and shoot a shotgun, forget it – that’s patently false. This was emphasized during a practical exercise toward the end with shotguns placed at our waist; just pointing and shooting resulted in wide misses, so we must aim for our target.
· Take away those “big scary monster myths” like recoil. Honestly, the recoil was far less than I expected and I think everyone found it less intimidating than previously thought. When I did not quite have my stance right, I felt it more; when my stance was on point, I had a great handle on it.
· While most shotgun confrontations end with two rounds fired, our shotguns should always be fully loaded and ready to go.· Shotgun safeties differ widely and often have unergonomic positioning (while others have safeties only via the mechanics of the gun), so learn ours and get comfortable with them.
· The white light is for positive identification; we must see it first and identify it before engaging or acting on the potential threat. Bad guys like the dark and the bright white light will help buy us time and put them off guard.
· Do not challenge yourself with a shotgun sling which can be cumbersome in an emergency of home situation where timing is of the essence.
· It’s our gun and our responsibility.
· “Don’t do stupid stuff with your gun and stupid stuff won’t happen.” Roger that.
· “Guns are just tools – they are not empowering.”
· Once on the range, know where our med kit is – and always have a med kit.
· Muzzles up, pointed in a safe direction always.
· Targeting the face can often produce more immediate incapacitation (hitting the brain box, spinal column or blinding target) vs. shooting the heart. There is also a three-dimensionality factor that comes into play in that your threat is always moving.
· “Do not take the gunfight” to the space we want to protect (be it kids, spouse, other family members). While our immediate reaction might be to move toward our loved ones, do not go to that space unless the problem is there; the best thing we can do is move the threat in the opposite direction away from that area.· “No one is coming to save you.” We hear this all the time, but Steve drove home the truth. In the event of a home invasion, it may be up to us to save our lives and those of our loved ones. If there’s a widespread catastrophic event, the emergency systems and medical facilities might be overwhelmed (or even incapacitated should there be a terrorist incident).
I went into this class with very realistic expectations. Was I perfect? Of course not, that would be weird. However, I was pretty darned pleased with my performance and my aim was quite good for a first-time effort. I also want to give a shout out to Leanna and Jimmy at F3 Tactical, Inc. for hooking me up with effective new EarPro; I have very sensitive hearing and it really made a big difference in me being able to concentrate and relax on the course.
Overall, the inaugural event was a great success for several key reasons:
· Launched a new class format for MASF
· Well planned and organized
· Everyone followed instructions provided in advance and arrived prepared
· Locally based event with little travel needed for participants
· Steve’s good-humored and reassuring training style put everyone at ease
· Fantastic sense of teamwork
· All the ladies left with a greater sense of knowledge, comfort and confidence
· New friendships were formed and existing ones were strengthened
Closing:In summary, it was a fantastic day for all! I feel very confident about what I took away from the course, and know that all the participants gained a great deal in one very thorough day. For me, I really took advantage of the opportunity to learn in an intimate setting and did my best to absorb everything that Steve told us and showed us. Now, I have to make sure I get regular practice to put that knowledge to work, smooth out the process, and become more of a natural at shotgun handling and shooting. Huge thanks to Baraka and Kyung for hosting us, to Steve for being the best and most fun instructor on the planet, and to my fellow participants for making it a great and memorable time for all!