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A Girl and Her Gun

A Girl and Her Gun: November 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Woman With Her Gun-Amber Gaskins

 How I Became A Pistol Tote'en MamaI


I was always around guns growing up. Both, my mother and father, had their own. And quite the variety at that. But, I was never interested in learning about them.

Yeah, I shot them here and there.

Target practice with my dad...ect. ( what country girl doesn't do that growing up?).

Yet, I still didn't have a passion about them. Which I find very strange to this day.

It wasn't until I met my husband, Tim, that I knew this vast world of guns, was for me. I wasn't particularly keen on them when we met either. And to be totally honest with you, if he would have shown me his gun collection and announced how much of an enthusiast and pro gun he was, when we met....yeah, I would have ran for the hills.

No joke.

Thank goodness he took the gentlemanly route and slowly baptized me.

I now, am the proud holder of my concealed carry license, and yes, my .40 goes everywhere with me. My collection is growing quite rapidly and I'm like a proud mama about it too!  It just seems crazy to me too think back to the days when I didn't know this much fun was out there. I, now feel the urgent need to introduce our 4 kids the importance of the "gun world". They range from 11 to 7 and are with us at the range almost every time we go. I guess you could say guns bring our family together.

We enjoy it endlessly.

So, back to your question...I blame it solely on my wonderful and amazing husband, Tim.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Little Levity

My 2nd grader came home and showed me her school work for the week.  As I looked through everything I came across a story she wrote about our family.

 We do not have any guns that look like this, unfortunately.  If she were a man, I would think she might be compensating for something.
Her teacher loved it!!

Change

After my March ordeal, I went through quite a bit of emotion that I have talked about a lot on here.  I have also talked about how I worked through it and got stronger in the process.

I have been feeling good about my progress and my growth for the most part, but the past 2 weeks have been emotional for me and I have had an unsettling restless feeling that I can't seem to shake.

Back in March after I signed up for the CC class, I received an email from the instructor telling me to watch a video, sign up for the NRA and the VCDL(Virginia Citizens Defense League)  and, as we all know by now, I was a very compliant gal and not one to question authority, so 2 seconds after I got the email, I watched the video.  Then I signed up for both the NRA and the VCDL.

Those 3 things were pretty painless and I felt good that I had done something to further my knowledge into the new world I was entering.

Next a guy at my husband's work told me I need to buy Massad Ayoob's book In The Gravest Extreme, so I did along with 2 others


The night I received Massad Ayoob's book, I sat down to read it, but I only got to about page 7, before I broke down in tears and told my husband, I can't read this book.  I could not even think about letting my mind go where he was going.

I made it farther along in Kathy Jackson's book, but I admit, there were certain parts of that book, I skipped and it took my weeks to finish it.

I put both books aside and haven't thought much about either in the past 7-8 months, that is until I wrote the post "Betrayed By The Angel".

That post got me to thinking about how far I have come, but it was more of a wake up call to how far I have to go.

As I recently mentioned on here, I have known for a while now that it was time to get some further training and to push myself to the next level, but for one reason or another I haven't done it, so when an opportunity came up to sign up for a class in Tennessee, I took the plunge and signed up.

I was feeling better, but still unsettled.

The day before I read the article "Betrayed By The Angel", I read a post on our local newspaper's FaceBook page about a man in our town who had just shot himself in the leg with his Glock .40.  He was in his car, reached for the seatbelt and the gun went off.  His wife and 3 of his children were in the car with him and even though help arrived quickly, he did not survive the wound.

When I first heard the story, the details were sketchy, but it appeared he would be fine and my first thought was "Oh, no, the anti gun people are going to be all over this."  I knew that this man probably missed something in his preparation to carry for the day.  Perhaps he didn't have a holster or maybe he didn't take the time to holster it properly, I didn't know the situation, but I do know guns don't go off by themselves and I was worried how the incident might be spun.

Unfortunately, as more and more information came out, I learned that he had died and selfish worry turned into utter sadness and I was literally sick to my stomach. 

I didn't sleep much that night.  I was consumed with thinking about guns and safety and the reality of what guns can do.

Let me be clear, again,  I am always aware of what guns can do, always.  I am a safety fanatic and I am consciously aware each time I handle my gun not to become complacent.

I remember my husband telling me time and time again, complacency kills.  He has told me stories of Marines or soldiers during the war that took risks they never should have taken because they got too comfortable.  One would think war was one place that people would surely never lose focus, but it's our nature.  Even war can become routine.

Those lessons have stuck with me and I am fully focused each and every time I handle my gun, which for me, is daily.

Knowing this and knowing that the reality of this tragic situation is that this man probably didn't do something right, did little to comfort me.

An old familiar friend had returned.

I was afraid.

The next day I got up, went downstairs made my kids breakfast, packed their lunches, took a shower, ran some errands to 3 different stores, came home and spent the rest of the evening doing various things around my house.

My gun never left the safe.

The next day,  I read the "Betrayed By The Angel" story linked from the Cornered Cat's FB page and I wrote my post.

Later that evening I got an email from a woman, I won't say who because I didn't ask if I could use her name, but it was a person with whom I have great respect.

I also won't share all that was in the email, but I will say that this person gave me encouragement and said that even though in certain situations I have acted or not acted in way that were ideal, I could learn to do better.  I could change.

I spent the next few days reading and rereading that email.

As I read it and thought about the past 2 weeks, I began to identify the source of that uneasiness I had been feeling.

Complacency.

I had become complacent.

Not in my gun handling, but in my mind.  I had accepted the status-quo as good enough.

While I think it is good to grow and then rest for a bit, and it is healthy to give ourselves time to absorb what we have learned, I have had enough time for that and I knew it.

I have known that I needed to do more, but I let myself make a few convenient excuses.  Excuses my mind was not going to let me keep letting me make.

Excuses I used because I knew what lay beyond the next hurdle and I didn't want to go there.

One would think I would have this lesson down pat by now, but I am good at pretending.  I have had years of practice.

BUT, I am STRONGER now and I am getting faster at recognizing the signs and I can change, I am determined to do so.

Yesterday I began rereading The Cornered Cat: A Woman's Guide To Conceal Carry and this weekend I will dive into In The Gravest Extreme.

I will read them from cover to cover, without skipping a page and without pretending that I can keep on pretending.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Walls Have Eyes

The other night my husband went to give our daughter her night chocolate before bed(our kids get turn down service) and he noticed she was in her closet.

He asked her what she was doing and she said putting some things in her safe.

 This is the shoe box she keeps her safe in.
This is her safe.  It looks pretty darn close to one of the safes we keep 2 of our hand guns in.

What a great reminder that our kids are watching us and they do what we do.  How very important that we do what is right.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Conceal Carry

Last night, at the last minute, we decided to go out to dinner.  I did not have my gun on my body at the time, but I was tired and not really in the mood to change and figure out what to wear, so I just grabbed my holster and gun and put it on.

I need to point out here that I have recently learned that the various states have vastly different rules on carrying, so this may be more of an issue for you than it is for me.

I generally carry concealed.  Once in a while if I am with other folks that open carry, I will too, but it is not my everyday carry method, however, in Virginia I could open carry if I choose to do so.

In Virginia it is legal to open carry or conceal carry (if one has a permit) and the brandishing laws include an intent to intimidate, so simply having the gun reveal itself should my shirt come up would not get me a brandishing charge.  What that does for me, is help me to not have to stress so much about "hiding" the gun.

I generally chose to conceal for a ton of reason, but that is another post.

So, back to the point...

After I got myself all situated, my husband said, "wow, you can't even tell you are carrying".

I took a look in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised that the gun did not really print.

No real cover garment or extra prep.  Just grab my gun and go, this I like!

It also goes back to the last post I wrote on conceal carry.

Now, I am going to say right now, these are not the most flattering photos of my backside, but in the interest of  sharing my experiences in the hopes it might help someone, I will post them anyway, but believe me, in real life my hiney is much cuter:)



This is what I wore.  I am only giving the details to let you see how doable this really is.  Size 6 skinny jeans with a small thermal shirt under a small regular cut t-shirt.  These jeans do have some stretch to them which is good because even though I am on the thinner side, I do have hips.  Even in the Crossbreed holster the gun tends to pull a bit and cause me some irritation on my hip bone.  The stretch of the jeans tends to lessen this a great deal.  I wear my gun at about 8:30 and not in the small of my back, so I think that contributes a lot to the hip bone issue.  If you carry more towards 6:30, 7:00, then you probably have even more concealment. 


 Of course, if you are reading a blog about guns and concealment and you know I carry my gun on my left side, well then yes, it is pretty obvious to you that, that print is a gun, but I do not think the majority of folks would think that and we were heading out the door, so I didn't really check the picture, but I think when my shirt is pulled down a bit, it is even less obvious that there is anything under there, let alone a gun.  However, if one was uncomfortable with this amount of print, I think even the lightest sweater would be plenty of a cover garment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Woman With A Gun- Melinda Mercier



When I was a young teenager, I was aware that my father had a gun in the house for our protection and also one for his job. It wasn't something that was shocking to me or particularly interesting at first. But few years back, my father was an armed security officer for our county's federal courthouse (just a stone's throw from the police station). There are a few night clubs in the near area as well. He worked a graveyard shift and noticed a young woman outside walking past the building and soon after a man walking very fast behind her. Alerted, he went out to investigate and around the corner heard a yelp. 

The man had grabbed the woman and yanked her over the bushes in an empty parking lot, got her on the ground and began unbuttoning his pants. My father pulled out his gun, told the man to stop, the woman ran and clung to him and the perp froze for a second. 

Unfortunately, my father could not shoot because his own life was not in danger, nor was the woman's any longer. Realizing this, the man ran off before my father could arrest him. 

When he told me that story, I couldn't help but think "How lucky could to have someone with a gun around to save her!" But the more I got to thinking, the more I realized: How much better would her odds have been had she had a gun in case there was NO ONE around to save her? It was something my father made sure his daughters knew about the world: it can and WILL happen to anyone and we need to be aware of our surroundings. 

I took it a step further and this year in April received my CCW permit, and my father bought my hubby and me a handgun as our wedding gift (per my request). And now I'M OBSESSED with learning about them and conceal carry! LOL! I'll be purchasing my second hopefully this month. (a Kimber 1911)*

Monday, November 14, 2011

Betrayed By The Angel

If you do not follow The Cornered Cat on FaceBook then YOU SHOULD.

She posts the most thought provoking ideas, articles, and questions of anyone I have ever read.

She posted this article today and I thought it was so profound. 

It goes back to every thing I have been taught since the very first day of my Conceal Carry class: it starts with THE MIND.

If you are a gun person or a man then that is most likely very obvious to you, I am sure, but if you are a woman, especially one that was not fortunate enough to be raised by parents who taught her to fight, then, it just isn't that obvious.  In fact, for me, it's always been the opposite.

The obvious thing for me to do was nothing, was not to fight.  Not fighting was the most natural thing the world to do.

It was so ingrained in who I was.  If someone came at me, I never even flinched.

I may have shared this before, I used to be a youth leader at a local church and one day we all went to another leaders house for a party.  He had a pool and everyone was swimming except for me.  I was dressed, as I usually was back then, in dress pants, dress shoes and a very nice top.  I was standing by the pool with my back turned to the crowd and a lady came up behind me and intentionally pushed me in.

I don't remember thinking anything.  I wasn't afraid and I was concerned, I just fell right in.  I didn't try to grab for anything.  I didn't, by instinct, reach out and try to pull her in.  I just fell exactly where I was pushed.

Even after I realized what had happened I did not get upset or complain that my new $40 shoes were ruined, I just smiled and made a joke.

At the time, I actually thought what a nice person I was. I cared more about people and their feelings than to get upset about something that didn't matter anyway, like shoes.

But, today I see it much different.  Not so much the reaction afterwards, but the lack of instinct to fight in the first place.

What happened to this woman in the article Betrayed By The Angel is much worse than anything that has happened to me, but I think we have shared a mindset, a mindset that, has not served either of us well.


After I read this article I posted this comment on The Corned Cat's page...



I cried through this entire article. I was not raped or even attacked physically, but when I was standing in the parking lot being bullied, I just stood there and didn't think for a minute to fight. I was calm and worried about my daughter's safety and I kept thinking how to get her out of there, but I didn't scream or demand that he stopped coming at me. It was by sheer luck that something worse didn't happen to me and my daughter and though I get stronger everyday and more resolute about fighting for my life, should the situation present itself, I still am afraid sometimes. It is why I am a nut about training. I just want to keep trying to convince my mind I am strong enough to do fight and when the sh*t hits the fan, I will not be nice and polite and just take it. I don't want to just stay alive, I want to live and I want to fight.






Betrayed By The Angel

Woman With A Gun

Last week a lady left a comment on my Girl And Her Gun Facebook page.  Her comment was something to the effect of "though for different reasons than you, I too, recently came to be interested in guns."

If you have been reading this blog long then you already know I love people.  They fascinate me and I love to hear about how they became to be who they are, so I asked her if she would mind sharing with me how she found her way into the world of firearms.

She didn't mind and she did share.  While reading her story, I wondered if she would mind if I shared it on the blog, so I asked and she didn't mind. 

I enjoyed hearing her story so much that I came up with the idea to make it a feature on the blog. 

If enough woman are interested I will start a new feature on the blog that highlights women and how they became a "Woman With A Gun".

So, if you would like to be a part of empowering women and wouldn't mind sharing with all of us your story please email me at agirlandhergun@gmail.com

I think that my blog, in particular, has several women readers who are venturing into guns for the first time and, much like I was, are apprehensive.  I think it would be great if they could come here and read stories of the women that came before them and hopefully find a woman or a story that inspires them in their journey.

I will present the stories just as they are told to me and I will refrain from elaborating as I want to let everyone think for themselves without my color commentary, but I think it would be nice if you all left a word or two to those who share because it is always nice to hear an encouraging thoughts from others.

So, come back tomorrow to meet the first "Woman With A Gun".

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Photo Shoot







Friday, November 11, 2011

It's A Done Deal

Thank you for your generous donation to Wounded Warrior Project. Your gift enables us to provide comfort and aid to the wounded and families in need.

Your information is as follows.

Your Information

Payment Date: 11/11/2011 9:35:43 PM EST
Donation Amount: $705.00

Wounded Warrior Project is a public charity as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Your gifts are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Thank you again,

Wounded Warrior Project

Update

The winner has contacted me and has asked me to donate the money for her training to the Wounded Warrior Project.

I am a very big fan of training and hoped to contribute towards that, but this person insisted I give the money to the project, so I will. She feels that there is a great need there and I will honor and respect her for that.

That brings our total to $705.00! I think that is very cool!

I asked our winner if I could share with all of you that her donation was $5. I wanted to mention it because often times I think people do not give unless they can give big, but anyone who depends on the kindness of strangers and their donations will tell you, that every single dollar counts.

If you do not have a dollar or five to give then you shouldn't and one should only give out of a genuine desire to do so, but if one thinks a $1 or $5 doesn't count, you could not be more wrong.

Thank you again for giving to this fundraiser or someone else's fundraiser or for supporting the service members in whatever way you do!!

Have a most fabulous weekend!!

Next week I have a new surprise feature that I am excited to share with you all!

And The Winner Is...

video
Together we raised $405.00 for the Wounded Warriors.  Thank you so much for joining with me to do what we can to help someone else.  It doesn't really matter if you give $5 or a million, that you gave at all is what matters.

Congratulations Mrs. Adams.  Contact me so I can get you details on the holster and other prizes!!

Drawing

The drawing for the Wounded Warrior Project will be at 8pm this evening, so you have until 7:59 to enter. Thank you again to all who have already donated and good luck!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue

I always struggle a bit when I am trying to speak about those in the military. I never want to sound trite or cliche, but I think it is worth my effort to try to say something that honors them.

When my husband first joined the Marines, The Gulf War had just ended. He was in boot camp when it started and it was over by the time he graduated.

Naively, we thought that would be it.

I was all of 22 and lived a fairly sheltered life in small town Iowa. I valued what those in the military did, but most of the folks I knew in the military were older men who had long since retired and I didn't think anyone in the current Armed Forces saw much danger.

Of course, now, I realize that much was being done, but truth be told, most of those in the service for a long time, didn't see much action.

I used to take my kids up to Walter Reed for appointments and it was mostly filled with other moms and their kids.

Now when we I go, it's hard to look in any directon without seeing a service member on crutches, missing his leg or in a wheelchair, or missing an arm.

Often times my kids sit and wait for hours for an appointment we made months earlier with their ENT because he got called off to surgery for a wounded soldier or Marine.

Our ENT, who is like family to us, once told us, he rarely sleeps any more because of the images that run through his mind. He hasn't seen combat, per se. He hasnt been to Iraq or Afghanastan, but he has seen plenty of the results of war.

His most vivid image is of the time, a neuro surgeon held up a young man's brain with his hands, so, our ENT, could get in there to do whatever he needed to do.

The Marine was missing the entire left side of his head.

Whatever luxury I once had to pretend the military was not all that dangerous a job, is no more and it hasn't been for a while now.

It is patently clear the sacrifices that are made, daily, on my behalf and on yours.

Some sacrifices are easily seen like the scars on their bodies or the missing limbs, or the empty chair at the dinner table, but many of the lasting impressions of combat are not so easiy seen.

The ones that keep them up at night. Those are harder to spot, but leave their mark equally as deep.

I would venture to say, the worst memories of my husband's life are from his time in combat.

Ironically, I would say that some of my husband's fondest memories are of his time in combat.

There is a bonding that occurs in that kind of environment that fosters a love and a courage and yes, even fun, that can not be understood by those who haven't been there.

It's a kind of sacrifice and commitment that inspires me to live a fuller life. One of humility and gratitude.

It often leaves me speechless, but today I want to say...

THANK YOU!

THANK you to all who have served and who are serving.

I wish you a wonderful Veteran's Day!! I pray that you feel appreciated and valued!

God Bless.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This And That

Not too much to report today, but there a few things I wanted to share.

I signed up for my second gun training class.  I will be attending a 2 days course in Tennessee at The Range Master facility.  The course is taught by Kathy Jackson aka The Cornered Cat.  I am very excited about this for a variety of reasons, one being that all of my firearm training has come from men.  I like men and I have had the best most supportive group to teach me, but I am looking forward to a woman's perspective. The class isn't until February, so I will talk more about that as it gets closer.  However, if anyone knows the area and can give me any suggestions on hotels I would be most grateful.

I also took the suggestion of someone who left a comment on the blog, Secret Squirrel, and I looked into joining a volunteer rescue group.  The one that is closest to me is the Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Team.  I been have emailing with one of the guys from there and I will attending the new member meeting and the business meeting at the end of the month.  We shall see what comes of that.

Lastly, if you are a woman interested in conceal carry, Lima posted a new video on You Tube, you might be want to take a look at.

I am now off to vote and celebrate my freedoms by taking my daughter to the range. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another Update

I became a gun person out of a need, but became a gun nut because, well, guns rock and shooting them is just crazy fun, but fun is not the only thing to come out of my experience.

I have learned that the gun community is a passionate, supportive, giving community. Not only has almost everyone I have reached out to been more than helpful, I have had people's reach out to me to offer me help, advice, support. It has been amazing!

I have also learned that this community is staunch in it's support of freedom and those who protect it.

When I started this fundraiser, my goal was a modest one of simply matching the prize I was giving away. At that time the only prize was the $300 I was giving toward a gun training class, so that meant I was hoping to raise $300 for the Wounded Warriors Project.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to all that have already given and let you all know that together we have surpassed that $300 goal. I am very greatfulafro that, but I sure would love to give them more, so if you are feeling generous today, please click on the button to the right and donate for your chance to win 2 gun training courses and a gorgeous holster.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Conceal Carry

Thanks to this man giving me a shout out to his friends, I have had a crazy amount of people visit my blog over the past few days.

Both Say Uncle and Gun Nuts linked to my 7 Days Of Conceal Carry post.  Due to the enormous amount of people that have clicked over to ready those post, I thought I should explain what happened to day 6 & 7.

If you are one of the people who came to see the 7 days of conceal carry then you realize there isn't a day 6 or 7 and that is because I realized my wardrobe doesn't change all that much.  In the summer I wear shorts, a light t-shirt, the occasional skirt and in the fall/winter, I wear jeans a t-shirt and usually a jacket of some kind.

Days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 pretty much covered that, but in the past 8 months I have learned a few things about carrying concealed, so in lieu of me showing you yet another outfit with me hiding a gun, I thought I would share a little of what I have learned.

First, contrary to all the heck I went through trying to find clothes that would cover my gun, in the end, I wear the same exact clothes I wore before I ever bought a gun.  The same shirts, the same pants and rarely do I wear a cover garment, unless I am wearing a skin tight spaghetti strap shirt, my regular t-shirt or dress shirt covers fine, even my Glock 27.

The disclaimer to that is, my Glock is not a full size handgun.  It is a subcompact, but on my small frame it is still a big piece to conceal.

What I did learn was that my holster was crucial to concealment.  I know obvious, but it wasn't to me.  I have a drawer full of holsters that are worthless.  They may be great holsters, but for me they just didn't work, at all.

I wear a Crossbreed holster everyday.  Regardless of the gun I am wearing, I have a Crossbreed holster for it, unless I am wearing a dress or skirt, then I am wearing my holster from Chick Holsters.

The Crossbreed holster I bought, I bought because some guy at Dick's Sporting Goods told me too.

There is a long wait period between order and delivery, so in the meantime I bought pretty much ever other kind of holster within a 60 mile radius of me.

When I was ordering my Crossbreed, I went to the web site not understanding a single thing of what I was doing.  I read all the options and had no clue what any of it meant, so I bought the basic model, as is.  If you have one or go to their site you will there are a variety of options to chose from.  This was lost on me.

When my holster finally arrived, I did nothing to it.  I put it on and tried to work around whatever issues it presented me, like riding up to high.  I did not understand cant and I didn't understand how to adjust the holster to meet my needs.

I took this brand new holster to my 2 day Conceal Carry class and quickly learned tht I should have taken the time to figure out more about my holster and I should have ordered the combat cut.



This is my husband's holster.  The top part of the hostler was a nightmare for me because as I practiced drawing the gun from the holster, my thumb rubbed against it and after 2 days, I had no skin left on it.  A little blood is fine, but it was annoying.

The good news is that after a while your skin toughens up and the pain really isn't an issue, but time is.

No matter how much I practiced drawing from my holster, I felt like I was losing time and was just not as efficient as I could be, so eventually, I did this...
I cut the top portion off with an exact-o knife.  This was a huge improvement for me if for no other reason than I felt like I was more effective in my draw and as we all know, the mind is the first thing that must work.

The next thing I did was play around with the ride of the holster.  I moved the clips in every possible place, tried it on and kept doing that until I felt a good fit.

Again, this may seem obvious to most people who have been around guns for a while, but for me everything was so foreign and I was afraid to do anything, even move the bolts on my holster. 

As is a constant theme of my blog, fear is the enemy.  Caution and preperation are very wise, but fear simple holds you back.

With something as simple and harmless as a holster, my fear cost me a lot of time, stress, energy and money.

The other thing I learned was that the more comfortable I became with carrying a gun and the less conscious I was, the less I felt a need to cover it up.

Of course, with conceal carry the entire point is to cover it up, but when I first started carrying, I didn't want any print at all.  Even if it just showed a bump and one could not tell it was a gun, I knew, everyone knew it was a gun.  They didn't.

As I became more comfortable, the less I needed to do.  It just became a part of me and my everyday outfits.

Now when people ask me about conceal carry, my advice to them is do not worry so much about the right clothes, but the right gun

The focus should be on a gun. Finding one that you will carry and shoot.

Some great advice on that can be found here.

Of course, part of buying a gun is going to take inconsideration your lifestyle, body type etc, but I think that  one can work around most of those issues with relatively minor adjustments to their wardrobe.

Now, if you are 5 feet, 98 lbs and you want to carry a full size 1911, you may have more of a challenge then simply finding a good holster.

For me the gun is first and foremost, then I would spend time really investigating and investing in a good quality holster and then play(with the holster not the gun).

Grab an outfit that represents your style, empty you gun, clear it, check it and recheck it to be sure it is empty, remove all ammo from the room(advice I got from a newsletter by The Cornered Cat  )  and then try your holster on in every single way it will allow you.

Adjust all the position in every combination and try it on with your clothes in your closet. See how it works with the wardrobe you currently have.

You may find like me, that what you have will already works perfect and you just might save yourself hundreds of dollars in useless cover garments that only serve to make you look like you are constantly heading out on a Safari.

Exciting News!

My legs have healed enough from my time in the woods, that I can shave today!!

Ok, that may only be exciting to my husband, but let me tell ya, he is very excited!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Training

Even though, I have only take one formal gun training course(it was a good one though, 2 days, 600 rounds!), I am a nuts about learning and practice. 

I would take every single class offered, pretty much anywhere, if time and money allowed.

However, since both, time and money, are precious resources, I supplement with reading, time at the range, drying firing, etc. 

But, I am getting antsy and it really is time for me to take another course.  I want to take the advanced course that is here locally, but the timing hasn't worked out, so I thought about taking another basic class.

I was having this discussion with my daughter and one of her friends and my daughter said, "Another basic class, "Aren't you passed that?"  and her friend was on my computer reading the description for the advanced class and she said, "Don't you think that is to advanced for you?"

Ironically, the answer to both of those questions is no.

I suppose there might be a time when a basic class is no longer useful, but I am not sure that will ever apply to me.

I taught college for many years out in California and you would be surprised at the number of times I learned things from my students in the basic class.  Every once in a while a student would ask a question I hadn't thought of before or just didn't seem to get a concept I thought was basic.  That would challenge me to come up with a new way to explain it or a new technique to help it process in their mind.  In their learning, I benefited, I grew, I became a better teacher.

It is obvious to anyone reading this I am sure, that me being around guns for a mere 8 months, I am someone who could absolutely benefit from another basic class, but I wanted to make the point that even if one is "passed" that beginner level, there is always something to learn, especially if it is from a new instructor or new way of teaching the same old stuff.

As to the second part, is the advanced class to advanced for me? 

Again, from my teaching experience, I have learned if you wait til you are ready, you never will be.

I taught American Sign Language and I would tell my students if they wanted to learn the language they would have to go out and use it with the folks that use it.

100% of the time they would say, "What?" "NO. way, I am not ready!" 

They were ready. 

Did they know the language?  Would they understand much of what was being said to them?

No, but they had enough of a foundation that they would grow from the experiecnce and little by little, they would gain the knowledge they needed to eventually master the language.

The brain is funny.  We remember what we experience.  If there is a significant event that happens to us, our brains are able to recall the event much more easily then if we simply are exposed to the information.  There is something about us going out and struggling that gets those neuro pathways all excited and that helps kind of cement things into our brains.

So, do I have the skill to master an advanced class?  Umm, no, not evern close.

Will I struggle and become frustrated?  Umm, yes.

Will, I come out of there knowing everything there is to know?  Umm, heck NO.

Will I come out of there knowing more than I knew when I went in?  Oh, YES!!

In short, I have so much room to grow and learn that a basic class is absolutely not a waste of my time, but I do believe I have enough of a foundation that I can put myself in an environment out of my reach, so that I can push myself and thus growth can occur.

Plus, seriously, who doesn't think skulking around at night trying to kill the bad guy doesn't sound like hum-dinging good time???

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A New Prize

Every year the PTA board at my children's school puts out a list of different activities that they will be sponsoring for the year.  The leadership is always looking for a chairman for the different events.  Every year I chair 2 events. Teacher Appreciation and  the Veteran's Day Luncheon.

I cook my world famous(by world famous I mean the 150 or so folks at my kids school) pulled pork, with home made bbq sauce, corn casserole and coleslaw for around 130 people, although it grows every year and I am expecting closer to 150 this year.

Our local restaurants are more than willing to donate food for our events, but I like to cook for this event.  It is a lot of work, but it is one very small way that I can show my appreciation for what the men and women of our Armed Services do for me, for all of us.
My husband with our daughter at last year's event.

I bought a banner to hang up in the gym that says "With Gratitude and Humility, THANK YOU!" 

That is what I am always striving for.  A way to show my gratitude and also how humbled I am by how I have been served by these fine men and women.

This year, I wanted to do more.  I wanted to find a way to give back on a grander scale and also to encourage folks to take a larger role in being more resposible with the life and freedoms they have.

Thus the Wounded Warrior Fundraiser.

My hope was to get  people to donate at least $5 to give back to the few that give so much and in gratitude I would offer a way to help him/her gain more training in defense of their selves.

I have been completely overwhelmed by the support of other and how they have reached out to me.

Talking about being filled with gratitude.

The gentelman over at Dragon Leatherworks, has offered one of his beautiful handmade leather holster  as part of the prize package.

 Gorgeous, right?!

So, for each $5 donation you make to the Wounded Warrior Project, you have a chance to win 2 gun training courses and a holster.

I will donate up to $300 towards a gun training class of your choice, plus,

John Murphy has donated one conceal carry training course, plus,

A gorgeous holster donated by Dragon Leatherworks.

I would be most grateful for any donations and for spreading the word about the fundraiser. It's a great way to start of the holiday season of ding for others. Nothing feels better than to give and to do it together, is the best!!

*****A little disclaimer, John's course is in Virginia, so to access that prize you would have to come to Virginia.  No cash equivalent will be given and no other course can be substituted.

The holster is handmade and takeS up to 8 weeks to be made.  If you win, you will work directly with them to get your prize.******

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Step Forward

I changed the title of this post from Two Steps Forward, One Step Back, to Another Step Forward, because I realized I didn't take any steps back.

I am forever working on my mind and being more and more prepared. I am consistently forcing myself to face my fears and to move forward. This realization is just another step forward in that process. Now back to the post...

Today, a very generous man contacted me and offered to donate one of his beautiful handmade holsters to my fundraiser for The Wounded Warriors. There will be more on this later, but check out his site at www.dragonleatherworks.com.

I just met him, but his heart is a giving one and he wrote some of his friends about this blog and he cc'd me in his email.

In his introduction of me he said, " she was involved in a mugging that could have gone much worse"

I said to my husband, "when was I mugged?"

He said, "Babe, when you are standing in a parking and a man intimidates you and forces himself on you for money, that is being mugged."

I said, "oh my, oh my, I was mugged."

I have never ever thought of it in terms of a criminal act. I have always tried to be very careful not to over dramatize it or make myself seem like I was a victim. There are so many people who have been on the wrong side of a bad guy and I have never, ever wanted to take away from their experience.

I was scared by the event, but I have always viewed it as my weakness.

In all that I have gone through these past few months, I have never once thought about what this man did to me.

I have always thought, I screwed up.

Now, the reality is, I did. To allow myself to live in a state of ignorance and blind faith and to not take responsibility for my safety and that of my children was a mistake, one I have tried to rectify, but tonight I am experiencing a new emotion.

Anger.

In my ever present attempt to train my mind, I am going to face this emotion head on.

I will move from anger back to determination. I will not let it affect my judgement, but I will also not let myself keep pretending.

I can't guarantee that another bad guy won't try to do me harm, but I can gurentee that I will do everything I can to keep that from happening.

For me it starts with my mind and, at the very least, includes a Glock 27.

It's Worth The Effort

Last Tuesday I woke up to a breaking news alert that a young boy in our area was missing and that the police were asking for volunteers to come help in the search.

On Sunday, he wondered off from his father on a hike in the woods and due to the mass amount of ground to cover, the police decided they needed help.


Even though I had never been a part of a search and rescue team before, I decided to get ready and go.  I took a shower, put my hair up, grabbed some old tennis shoes, 2 bottles of water, some trail mix , some cotton gloves, and a flash light.  As I was heading out the door, my husband suggested I grab a hat.  I don't wear hats, but he is smart man, so I said ok, grabbed one and left.

I drove about 40 minutes south to the staging area, parked and stood in line.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I did not anticipate waiting for 3 hours in the hot sun.

The original set up was for people to come, fill out paperwork, get a badge, sit through a 45 minute class, then be assigned to a group of 65 and head out.

What do they say about best laid plans???

The fine folks who organized this search were completely overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up to help.  History tells them that not many people show up and even less show up in bad weather and even less in difficult terrain.  So, when nearly 900 of us showed up, they were not prepared to deal with us.

I got there at 8:30 in the morning and did not get on to a search site until 230, but didn't really do much searching because I was in a group of 119 people.

One can not lead an effective search line in the woods with a group of 119.  We were very ineffective that day.

Tired and discouraged I wasn't sure I would return the next day.  I felt like this poor boy was in a heep of trouble if he was depending on us to find him, but I woke up the next day, got ready and headed out again.

This time with a bit more gear.  The hat my husband suggested was the second most important piece of gear I took with me, the second was gloves.  The first day I had a pair of cotton gloves.  I am not even sure why I picked them to take.  I think because it was chilly and I thought my hands might get cold, but in the environment I was in, a good pair of gloves was essential.  I fixed that by day 2.

We were in the Virginia woods.  Woods without trails and full of thicket and briar.  We went under barb wire and over downed trees.  We wadded through swamp and in and out of sludge.  My cotton gloves were not making the grade.

 The brown gloves off to the left were the ones I took from day 2 on and the were invaluable.
 Sad cotton gloves
Life saver hat



When I arrived on day 2, no one was there.  I zipped through the line partly because I was trained and didn't have to wait for registration and partly because no one else decided to come, but a few hundred of us.  Fortunately, they put out an alert for more people to show up and they respond.

Whatever had gone wrong the first day was corrected by day two.  The entire operation was streamlined and revamped. I went through the check in tent.  Showed my badge, got water if I wanted it(I brought my own everyday), got an MRE(I never ate mine), sprayed with bug spray and then got in line to board a bus. I was on a bus by 8:30 and on my way.  This time a team of 30 with 3 guides.



Again, the area we were searching was rough and not to far into our mission we had a significant injury.  One of the team members popped her knee out of place and she had to be carried out on a stretcher.  My job was to cut through the extremely dense woods to make a path for the stretcher.  The only cutting tool anyone had was a pair of scissors found in a small first aid kit.  I had to cut through the trees with scissors. Mostly I used that for the small briar branches and used my arms and body to break the branches off the trees.  We got her out and went back to the search.  The first part of the search we went 3.1 miles and it took us 4 hours and 5 minutes.  It was slow because we were being very thorough, looking not only for the little boy, but also for any signs that he might have been there.  Anything that might help direct us to where he was.

That was a very good day in terms of searching.  We covered a lot of ground and had an excellent to team to work with.

The next two days were wet and cold, so I brought more gear.  First and foremost my knife.  I have no idea why I didn't bring it, in the first place, but I quickly learned I should have.  I also brought extra socks because my shoes got wet, often.

More gear


In the wet and cold layering is important, but also just being in the forest it was important.  I wore 2 thin long sleeved shirts everyday, even when it was crazy hot, because of the environment.  I was very thankful for this and wish I would have had the same kind of foresight for my legs.  By the end of the week, I was covered in ticks, gashes in my legs, scrapes up and down my body and I am covered in some kind of fungus rash that itches like a son of a gun.

That week left me tired and emotionally drained.  I tried very hard to stay focused on my mission and not think about how scared or hungry or wet or cold this little boy might be and I tried very hard not to think about my own kids in that kind of situation, but it was draining.

I was fortunate to have met some amazing people that week.  People who lead my well and those who worked beside me were dedicated, uplifting, helpful, and fun.  It's a strange kind of bonding.

Due to the fact that many times these kinds of events turn out for the worst and often times have the family involved, many people asked me why I kept going back.  My answer was simple...

"I think that most of us believe the outcome will not be a good one and we are aware of the odds that someone isn't telling the truth, but I show up because I think this boy deserves the effort and if he is out there, then he deserves that I care enough to not care about the odds".

And it is a very good thing that I and the others had that kind of attitude because on day 6 of the search, he was found, alive, no foul play involved. 


He is still in the hospital recovering.  Physically, he will be fine, but mentally, this will be an experience, I am sure, he will never forget. 

Nor will I.