By: Kyung James, Dedicated Wife & Full-Time Stay at Home Mother of 3– MASF Member
Let me introduce myself by painting you a visual. I am a 5’4” tall, 112 pound, small framed (or some would say petite) woman in her later thirties. On any given day I may have one or all three of my children, under the age of 10, with me. I drive a very common SUV and live in Northern VA. What you won’t see is I carry my Smith and Wesson M&P Shield with me every day.
Let’s rewind to 6 years ago when I was a new mom with 2 little children. My husband has always been “into guns” and he had wanted me to get more familiar with them and to eventually carry a gun daily as he did. Me, carry a gun? No way! I had heard all the horror stories about guns “going off” and all the dangers that come with guns. That all changed when I realized one day while holding one child’s hand and the other in a baby carrier that I was a sitting duck and a very easy target for any criminal wishing to do me or my children harm. That scared me to the point where I was afraid to run errands with my children. I waited until I could go with my husband or a friend, this made life very stressful as you can imagine.
I made the decision then that I would NOT be afraid anymore and that I would do something about it. I talked to my husband and we got a babysitter and went on a date night to the NRA range. To be honest, I was super nervous about shooting a handgun. More nervous that my husband would be with me the first time, I wanted to impress the love of my life! My anxiety got the best of me… My loving husband gave me the safety rules, had me pick up his Beretta .45 and shoot a single shot downrange. I did as he instructed and slowly returned the handgun to the table with tears down my face and my hands shaking. I was NOT prepared for the explosion that happened in my hands! Such force, such loud noise! I never wanted to shoot again. My husband tried to console me as I was crying, I was inconsolable. There happened to be a very nice female RSO walking by and she stopped to make sure I was OK. She explained what had happened and she kind of smiled and kind of laughed, she said it was common, that husbands teaching their wives ended with the wives crying a lot of the time. Not because the husband was mean or yelling, but because of the wife wanting to do well for her man (just like me) and the anxiety just being too much. She was so kind and she stepped in and helped me calm down and gave me a mini lesson right there. It was awesome! After she left our lane my husband and I had a great rest of the time we were there. When we went to leave we ran into the female RSO (range safety officer) again and she informed me of a “ladies night” at the NRA on Thursdays once a month. I took the information and was excited and nervous to check it out.
With my husband’s encouragement I went to my first “ladies night” at the range. It was a great experience. I was hooked. I went back and took the NRA’s Basic Pistol class and applied and obtained my VA Concealed Handgun Permit. I knew I could aim and shoot a gun but I still was not proficient nor was I completely confident. I kept going back to the “ladies night”. I gained confidence and was able to talk with other women and we all shared our stories of how we “got into guns”. Some grew up around guns; some were like me, total newbies. I went every month for 9 months until I became pregnant with our youngest. This led to a one and a half year hiatus from the range. I was still able to practice drawing and dry firing at home, but I missed the range.
During the pregnancy my family left the city and moved out to the country and we acquired land. We were able to shoot on our own land and I anxiously watched my husband as he set up our home range. I realized during my pregnancy and after the birth of our youngest that the “ladies night” was great but that I was ready for more, the next step in my education in firearms. Lucky for me my husband knows a few of the best firearms trainers in the United States.My husband reached out to his friend John Murphy of FPF Training and got me into a class. It was part 1 of a 2 part class and I was super excited. As the day grew closer I became nervous. I had never been to a class where there would be people who took a lot more training them me. What if I was the worst and embarrassed myself? Did I need practice before going? What do I wear? After talking to my husband and John I decided to wear my normal clothing, jeans and a t-shirt and some TOMS. My husband bought me a Raven Holster and a double magazine holder for my super customized M&P Shield 9mm (thanks Doug, ATEi). I drove to my first all day on the range training class. I was all nerves the whole drive there. I got there and saw my worst fears had come true. All the other students had tactical pants. Lots and lots of magazines and crazy holsters. All these cool optics on their guns. Guns I had never even heard of. Name brand eyes and ears. I felt like I was an outsider. I felt like they all knew I was out of my league and that no one would want to pair up with me. Boy was I wrong.
The class started with everyone introducing themselves and telling what experience with handguns they had before arriving to class. I said I was a stay at home mom of three and that I went to ladies night at the NRA before coming there. No one laughed. In fact, they wanted to know more about ladies night! They had no idea there was such a thing and was impressed that I came out that day. John started the class in the classroom, getting our minds ready for the class. I had previously taken a mindset class of John’s and knew what to expect and was looking forward to it. Then we were off the range! I won’t go into a full blown AAR of the class, that is not the point of this article. I left class that day feeling confident and exploding with information. I wanted to go home and practice it all! I was addicted, I needed another class.
Another friend, Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts, was having a class in nearby West Virginia. My husband got me into the class. I was nervous again. But this time, I was super excited as well. I went to the class; the reception of the students was very open and receptive. I learned so much and absorbed everything he taught that day. I also had a lot of fun and enjoyed the whole day and all the people thoroughly.
I’ve come to realize that with every class I become more confident in my abilities and more comfortable carrying my firearm daily. I feel confident that I can defend myself as well as my children while we are out as well as in my own home. I also realized that I love going to class and meeting new people, learning new techniques and practicing them when I get home. Carrying a gun is not a fad for me, it is my lifestyle now. I never thought I would carry a gun daily and now I do. I look for clothes to help conceal my firearm and I’m OK with the fact that my fashion has changed since I made the decision to be responsible for my own safety. I will never change who I am and wear tactical pants nor will I ever be overconfident and be a know it all. Going to these classes has made me realize that I don’t have to alter my lifestyle or change my friends. When you have great instructors and awesome people around you to encourage you, you can add it to your daily life and really not change a thing. I enjoy talking to other women about my decision to carry and why, if they have the desire to learn, that they should!
I’m not here to change anyone’s mind about carrying a firearm, that’s a very personal decision and it’s definitely not for everyone. But, for every woman that has ever thought about it or is interested in it, go ahead, take the plunge! Ask around, find a class. I promise you that you will not regret the decision to take your personal safety into your own hands. At the end of every class you will leave with the satisfaction that you have learned something new and that you have accomplished more than what most people can only think to do.