Kippi Leatham and Julie Golob, founders of the popular Women of USPSA website (www.WomenofUSPSA.com), announced that the site, along with its related social media accounts, has been transferred by the United States Practical Shooting Association.
Started in 2009, WomenofUSPSA.com is the flagship component of an online and integrated social media effort to promote the success of all female competitors in the fast-paced sport of practical shooting. Leatham and Golob founded and designed the site to share knowledge and experience with both new and accomplished shooters and to celebrate the achievements of women as competitors, range officers and volunteers. Reporting on events through the Women of USPSA blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts, as well as a column in the sport’s magazine Front Sight, Women of USPSA led the way in highlighting talented female shooters.
“When we started this project we never imagined Women of USPSA would be so personally fulfilling or find such success. It has been a wonderful journey, not only telling the story of our sport’s female champions, but connecting with the dedicated women at the grassroots, club-level in our sport,” said Leatham.
Golob added that, “Passing the reins over to the national governing body of the sport is bittersweet. I am extremely proud of our efforts and the contributions that so many have made, and the following we have established. Kippi and I are excited that USPSA has taken an interest in our project and recognizes the importance of the growing female demographic.”
With the recent hire of the first female executive director of the organization, Kimberly Williams, USPSA plans to continue upkeep of the Women of USPSA social media sites and blog as well as further developing women’s profiles at WomenofUSPSA.com.
About Women of USPSA:
Launched in September of 2009, WomenofUSPSA.com has established itself as the online home for women in the sport of practical shooting. Women of USPSA’s mission is to encourage and inspire women everywhere to participate in the shooting sports by celebrating the women who compete in U.S. Practical Shooting Association competitions. Follow the Women of USPSA on the blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
About The United States Practical Shooting Association
The United States Practical Shooting Association is a non-profit membership association and the national governing body for the sport of Practical Shooting in America. USPSA has over 25,000 members and nearly 400 affiliated clubs which host weekly matches throughout the country providing recreational shooters with the opportunity to test and refine their shooting skills in a safe, competitive environment. USPSA is also the U.S. Region of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), which is comprised of approximately 67 nations. For more information, visit www.uspsa.org.
In the passing 10 years, it has become a known phenomenon in Europe, making the German Infinity Open one of the best competitions in Europe (aside from France’s Med Cup). Shooters from across the continent, as well as from across the ocean would mark their calendars not only for the match itself, but also for the registration opening date. Being nicknamed (more than once) “The 25 Minutes Match” (indicating the time frame in which the match was fully booked) has shooters time and time again on edge, just to be able to make it to the list.
Being known as one of the most challenging matches in the area, this 11th cycle was rumored to be no less than what we have come to expect. When registration date had failed to be announced, it was unclear if the match would even happen. But in the trusted hands of Jürgen Öfner, there was no way the Infinity Open would not happen! Recruiting Partick Kummer to his side, as well as the full team that make the GECO Open just some weeks before, this year’s Open offered (at least on paper) the most confusing and challenging competition ever.
While being elevated from the ground was not the main attraction this year, Patrick and his crew made sure that just about EVERYTHING was moving! Nasty swingers, bobbing plates, as well as targets, even a Biancci style double runner… This 18 stages match had it all, and plenty of all of the above challenges in EACH stage!
As in years before, I had traveled to Philippsburg with Evgeny Monastirsky, my shooting partner and Israel’s national Standard champion. From the moment we saw the match booklet we had one thing in mind: get to stage 12 just as soon as we land. Arriving by mid-day Friday allowed us just enough time to catch the pre-match, and see all props in motion. And indeed, after finishing registration with Jürgen, who was an amazing help with sorting out all necessary papers to our travel, we went directly to stage 12.
Located in the inner 30 meters range, the stage had the shooter figuring out a sequence of shooting its 6 poppers, as each one of them opened a shooting window while closing another. In the original planning, that opening and closing sequence was supposed to be extremely confusing, but that was scratched at the building of the stage. What ended up was a less confusing stage as far as the poppers sequencing, but touch and challenging when negotiating the right shooting positions. In fact, the stage had the shooter swinging from hard left, 90 degrees, close range (7 meters) targets to hard right 30-7 meters poppers. Distance of the poppers would decent as the shooter advanced in the stage.
After spending a good 30 minutes on stage 12, we started going around the range, to see what else we had in store for us for the coming day… Stage 12 was the least of our worries, as it turned out…
We were squaded together with the STI Euro Team, as well as with stage designer and builder Patrick Kummer, starting on stage 4. This short course had the shooter dropping a ball in a tube, which activated 2 bear trap targets, one extremely nasty swinger and a bobbing target, all with the same appearance sequence. When you have that in front of you, the 2 left side static targets that ended the stage were a non-issue. Within our squad alone there were 4 different solutions to this stage, and times would run between 4 to 7 seconds, depending on the option chosen and the risk you chose to take.
While stage 5 did not have any moving targets, the barely visible plates at 30 meters were everyone’s biggest challenge. The white colored plates on the dark sand background were barely visible for us Open shooters, so Standard and Production really were playing on luck: either see your sights and have no idea what you’re aiming at, or see the plate and have no sight picture. Probably all extra shots of the match came in this stage. From the design of it you would almost forget that it was a Production shooter who created this match…
I was scheduled to be the first shooter on stage 11. In this stage, just about anything that you can think of activating or being activated was there. The shooter started standing in front of two 3 meter open targets, before running left and right for 2 (one on each side) 7 meters away activating poppers. Both were in charge on activating fast nasty swingers, one on each side, as you approached the final section of the stage. There we had one popper which activated one bobbing plate and one bobbing target, 3 stationary targets, and another popper activating a runner with 2 targets on it, separated by a N/S.
As on every stage, this 24 round stage was all in the timing of the last part of the stage. Lucky for me, I got to the stage just in time to see Eric Grauffel negotiate the stage, and if I didn’t see his gun before, I would be certain he was shooting Open… Apparently switching to Production still sounds the same when he shoots. Seeing Eric and his squad, which also had top Czech Ladies shooter Lenka Horejsi, helped me figure out my game plan for this challenging stage.
After the first 10 stages day, which ended well ahead of time, as always (finishing at 17:00 instead of the scheduled 20:00), we went across the range to the Schuttenhaus for dinner. This restaurant placed just outside the range offers great food (especially the rum steak) in a fair price, and the only trick is to have a German speaker with you…
The next day had 8 more stages for us, and we enjoyed a “late” start of the day, as on Sundays you cannot start shooting until 09:00. One of the more interesting stages of the day was the 32 round field course, stage 17. While most of the stage was shooting left and right targets and activating poppers, the end of the stage presented on of the toughest runners I’ve ever seen… And it was a double runner. As you reach the end of the stage, after some 25 rounds, the remaining 13 rounds were divided by 2 static targets, and 1 popper, which activated a Bianchi style double slider: one running from left to right (with 2 targets on it) and one from right to left (again with 2 targets on it), about 15 meters away. If anything, that was the one stage where almost everyone picked up at least one miss.
Our final stage of the day, stage 3, turned out to be one of my best stages of the competition, in comparison to the other ladies. This 12 round stage had the shooter running between 2 windows, changing from long distance triple poppers to their short distance bobbing targets. What a way to finish the match. And again, well ahead of schedule.
This tough and challenging match had us all half surprised at the awards ceremony, with Dutch Desiree Van Noord nailing a close 1st, leading by only 5 points on Lenka Horejsi. Apparently we all had our share of mistakes, and I was pleased with my 90% and 4th honorable place in the Ladies.
Evgeny ended up 9th in Standard, 91% to Greg Midgley’s surprising win (as he put in on his Facebook profile).
My special thanks goes to Brandon Strayer and SVI, who made sure my gun stays in top shape, even after this match. Also big thanks to Saul Kirsch and Double Alpha Academy, Rudy Project, C-More and CED for their support.
If you ever plan on a European match, mark your calendar to the Infinity Open. I’m already waiting for 2013 registration to start!
I barely noticed the crisp fall afternoon as I drove through the eastern Pennsylvania countryside. The season had been good to us and no snow or mud coated the ground yet; despite the sunshine and blazing color, I was still in a funk about my weekend plans.
Several of my shooting friends and I – mostly female – had planned to meet in Manheim, PA, to attend a Project Appleseed event. Life has a way of interrupting shooting schedules – one person was in the middle of a break-up with a boyfriend. Another had health issues with which she was dealing. A third friend, an articulate and bright professional, had read a review of the program in the New York Times. As a resident of the state of New York, I recognized the liberal bent of the paper and (despite the fact that I love their book review section) refuse to subscribe to it based on their anti-gun stance. The article had drawn some parallels to modern-day militia training which made her feel uncomfortable. With all of this, our merry band of the initial eight had dwindled to three.
All of that aside, it was my own physical deficiency that had me scared. How was a short, pudgy redhead going to shoot a rifle when she was right-handed and left-eyed? Darn cross-dominance all to heck! I had spent my shooting life avoiding long guns. Deer hunting? No problem! Thompson Contender, one shot pistol, .45-70 barrel. Self defense? No problem! My Glock 30 chambers loud enough to scare off bad guys. I could cheerfully live my entire life without ever shouldering a rifle and dealing with my right/left left/right issues.
When we planned this trip several months before, it had seemed like such a good idea. Appleseed, sponsored by the Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA), teaches a combination of history and rifle marksmanship. The volunteer instructors teach attendees how to shoot a rifle interspersed with the history of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Guns, Girls, History – how much fun we would have! But then that whole long gun thing reared its ugly head…..
Imagine my relief when friends Cindy, Annette and I pulled up to the gun club early Saturday morning. Not only would I have shooting girl friends with me, but one of the instructors, Frank Tait, also shot IDPA with me in the past and was a warm, friendly face. Before acknowledging my physical shortcoming, I wanted to know a little more about the other instructors. It didn’t take long for the guys to introduce themselves. Michael-Angelo Lafredo (also known as Mal) was our Shoot Boss. Mal is an IT person at a truck leasing company with a background in physics/anthropology and geology. I learned that the job of the Shoot Boss is similar to an IDPA Match Director. Mal was friendly, direct, and was no-nonsense about safety being his number one concern.
The Pennsylvania State Appleseed Coordinator, Tom Scheller, was next in line for introductions. This tall, bearded man had a background I didn’t expect – a double degree in music and criminal justice. Despite his intense persona, he warmed to the subject of history and held us all spellbound with his renditions of the Revolutionary War battles and the people who played a large part in them – many of them women.
Finally, my buddy Frank delivered hugs to the three of us. The IT guy works for a software company as a product manager and is very focused in his professional position. Outside of work, he is warm, patient and kind spirited, the penultimate instructor for men, women and youth.
Knowing I didn’t have a rifle, Frank brought an AR-style .22 for me to use. The adjustable stock allowed him to fit it to me perfectly and he helped me put on sling – my first one ever! – without feeling any discomfort at all. I decided to shoot left-handed and left eyed to see how it felt – Frank assuaged my fears by telling me if it didn’t feel right, I could switch whenever I wanted to and see how using my right hand and eye worked for me.
After throwing down our shooting mats on the chilly ground and getting our guns/slings fitted to us, class began in earnest. After a safety briefing, I learned some new concepts, including NPOA (natural point of aim). While familiar with the concept from pistol shooting, my NPOA for a rifle was far different and we spent some time finding that.
Minute of Angle (MOA) was a different story! This calculation is used to define how distance affects accuracy as you extend angles out and how this corresponds to the adjustment needed on your scope. This concept was foreign to me, but as the 2 day class continued, I became more comfortable with it.
Just as IDPA and USPSA have custom targets, the objects we used were specific to Appleseed. Based on the Army Qualification Target (AQT), these targets presented four silhouettes in red to represent the British regulars or “Redcoats” at distances of 100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards and 400 yards. A fifth rectangular target represents a head shot at 250 yards. The class covered shooting the Redcoats while standing, sitting, and prone, and used a few other targets for practice, as well.
Learning a lot about shooting a rifle did not surprise me, since 98% of my shooting is done with a pistol, so I was a tabula rasa. The biggest surprise was what I learned about American history that I thought I already knew! Between each practice session was a history lesson and our instructors truly enlightened me. I was stunned to find out that Paul Revere likely did not ride through the streets bellowing, “The British are coming!” Frank explained that at that time the colonists were themselves British, so saying “The British are coming!” would be like us hearing “The Americans are coming!” The British regulars were the armed forces of the King of England who were enforcing the crown’s mandate to disarm the colonists, so Revere’s chant would have been, “The Regulars are coming!” Who knew??
The modified AQT targets were used as an assessment tool – much like the IDPA Classifier – so each morning and afternoon, we measured our progress. Our goal was to be classified as a Rifleman by scoring a minimum score based on accuracy in a timed drill.
At the end of first day, the three of us had the opportunity to join the instructors for dinner and learn more about the program. Appleseeds are run every week in many states and are geared to teach not only marksmanship skills, but heritage appreciation, as well. Mal defined for us that, “Heritage is the history we care about.”
George, an instructor in training, also shared with us that many of the participants they see come as a family or a group of friends, much like the three of us had. He said it is a very female-friendly event, and it is “not uncommon for first time women to outshoot the men because they are better listeners and learners.” There is a program called Ladyseed, for women only with all female instructors, and an Adaptive Appleseed for physically challenged shooters.
As the Appleseed folks continued to talk, the similarity of skills learned in IDPA/USPSA and rifle shooting became more apparent. Persistence and trigger control were easily identified, as were the importance of follow-up shots and breath control. Mal mentioned that, while NPOA is used in pistol shooting, “…many pistol shooters are unaware or unconscious of it”. Practical shooting also provided us with an understanding of how our physiology affects our shooting, information that helped us know what we were capable of with a firearm. Unlike practical shooting, “Appleseed is one of the few programs where folks buy a gun the night before and bring the gun and a brick of ammo to class the next day. We help them learn to use the new firearm safely.”
As dinner was ending and we were digging into dessert, I finally blurted out the question I had been dying to ask all day. “So, when do we get to the militia part of the class?” Knowing that I live in New York and had probably read the Times’ article, the question didn’t come as a surprise to the crew, including my IDPA compatriots. Tom patiently explained that Appleseed instructors are not allowed to discuss their political leanings in class. He reminded me that every article reflects the perception of the writer or the publisher, and that “their editorial staff prepares copy for a certain audience” which might explain the perception of that piece. “There is no secret handshake; once you get folks to an Appleseed event, they get it” and when they find out it was designed to teach safety, marksmanship and history, they usually come back. “The only politics discussed at Appleseed are those that were current 200 years ago”, Frank said, “and while we do use the “M” word, we use it in the context of the Revolutionary War”.
The program also has a wonderful mentorship process, we learned. Participants who qualify as a Rifleman have the opportunity to become Orange Hats, or an instructor in training. After this apprenticeship has been completed, they can progress to a Red Hat, or instructor; finally, a Green Hat, or Shot Boss, position can be achieved.
The second day of Appleseed involved more history and more practice, while the struggle between my left hand and the right side of my brain continued. I just couldn’t bring myself to feel discouraged while I was having so much fun, and especially not after hearing Frank share some information with one of the other shooters. “Many rifle shooters have never had formal training, so you are one up on them by learning the skills to shoot well after some practice, and to identify how to fix the issues that may hold you back.”
In the afternoon, we began our last few qualifying shoots for the coveted title of Rifleman. Let’s cut to the chase – I did NOT qualify as a Rifleman, although pal Cindy did, and Annette already had her Rifleman’s patch from a previous Appleseed visit. I had learned so much in the 2 day class it was impossible to feel anything but delighted. Tom, Mal and Frank had also recruited Cindy as an instructor-in-training, a brilliant move on their part. Before we departed, our coaches encouraged us all to return and bring a friend or two, to share with them the fun and accomplishment of Project Appleseed.
Last week, my new Smith & Wesson AR 15-22 arrived. When I return to Appleseed late this year, it will be with my own rifle, using my right eye/right hand this time to compare effectiveness with my left eye/hand – and it will definitely be with more friends so I can share the experience with people I love.
After years of shooting the Israel Open in the Caesarea shooting range, everyone wondered what would be of this 2012 Nationals. Caesarea was shut down last year, to be used as land to build on, and we were missing one big range that could host the 16 stage nationals, as no existing range had enough berms for it.
About 2 months prior to the nationals we had learned that a new range is being built, especially for hosting the event, and that it would have enough berms to host an amazing match, and finally we could have a pre-match for the ROs, and a main match.
But as all good things, bureaucracy came in the way, and just 2 weeks before the match we realized that the new range will not be approved in time for the match. Kudos to the organizers for whipping up the next best possible solution. The Open was moved to the Beit Naballa shooting range in Shoham.
The range in Shoham has 6 shooting bays, so we were all wondering if the match could hold the planned 16 stages, with no changes to the planned course of fire. The organizers did their best and we had an Open of 14 stages: 6 on the first day and 8 on the second day; that meant most of the big stages were shot on the first day.
Only 2 days before the competition I was in doubt whether I could take part in this nationals, as my back was restricting me from any movement, due to a slight movement of L5. Oscar, my physiotherapist did wonders and fixed my back in those 2 days, to help me get to this match with as little pain as possible.
This year we were shooting in super squads again, so I had the pleasure of shooting with the best of my country, and my father, who I never shoot without.
My shooter number, 24, also meant I was one of the first shooters in my squad, which kept me on alert for the first 3 stages of the day.
Stage 1, a big 32 round stage, had 2 activating poppers which activated both a swinger and a clam shell target (1 each), on oposite sides of the range. This meant, of course, that running from one end of the range to the other was a must… Just what I needed to start my morning! The stage went smooth, and with 20.01 seconds and 5 Cs, I started my morning with a big smile, and a 3rd place on that stage. And even my back treated me nice for most of the day.
With one long course after the other, it seemed like running was what we did most on that day, which ended on stage 6′s 70 meter run and its Coopper Tunnel.
Our second day of shooting consisted of 8 stages, which meant most of the short and medium courses were scheduled for that day. Though my back gave signals it might not make it, I kept on shooting a solid day.
2 stages in particular come to mind on this day: Stages 14 and 7, our final stages of the match.
Stage 14 was all about shooting fast: 24 rounds, close targets, mostly wide open, but crossing each other. We found, within our squad alone, at least 3 different ways of shooting this stage. The men went with one way they thought was best, but I figured a slightly different way and went with it. My 11.59 seconds and 4 Cs and ranking 4th overall proved my solution was one of the best, and with that feeling we went to stage 7, the last stage of the match.
In this stage we had 22 rounds plus a bonus target, which was a runner activated by either one of the 2 poppers. Being one of the last shooters in my squad gave me time to relax and regain focus, as this was the only stage with 15 no-shoot targets!!! And they were not the nicest N/S…
My turn finally came, and I gave a run, a major run! 20.77 seconds with 4 Cs, that even the RO was breathing hard after me.
It was at that time that I could finally say: this was THE best match I ever shot, securing a 22% lead over the rest of the ladies, and placing 6th overall in Open. And it meant that this would be my 10th Ladies title.
If there is someone that I need to thank here, other than my sponsors: Double Alpha Academy, Rudy Project, Brandon and the Infinity Team, it would have to be the following 2 people: Oscar, my physiotherapist from Alternagym, and Jonathan, my fitness trainer from Go Active Pro. Both made sure I will be standing on my feet at 100% shape. Thanks guys!
Now all we have left is to find out where the next Israel Open will take place… Passover 2013!
Anna Brooke shares a milestone in her shooting career, her first state title! Read more…
Training for my first major match of the year and only my third Steel Challenge Championship, began two months prior to the competition. My preparation includes: shooting monthly steel challenge matches and practicing at least one day a week. I train with world champion Dave Sevigny; he has truly been my mentor since this journey began in late April 2011. Getting to train with Dave is no different than training with other sports’ bests like Tim Tebow or Sidney Crosby; he is a great instructor and who else to learn from, but the best!
I am honored to have won the Ladies Limited Division at the 2012 Georgia State Steel Championship! Shooting iron sight (Limited) is a little tougher to shoot than optics. I feel that when I shoot with optics I tend to take advantage of having a red dot and do not aim as hard and do not hold as long as I need to on each shot. The open division is also more calming and less nerve racking because there is more confidence knowing that you will hit each target where you place the red dot. I prefer shooting iron sight over open because it is more relevant to everyday life and is more of a challenge.
One question that I found myself asking other shooters and now have people asking me, is my thought process before each stage. When I step into the box before I shoot, I relieve my mind of everything else. I tell myself over and over to take my time, hold on each plate, call my shots and most importantly to keep my eyes moving. As Dave always says, “I don’t care how painful it may seem to stay on your sights and hit each plate, avoid cadence, shoot when you see the right sight picture.”
I kept those words in my head and said them to myself before I shot each run this past weekend. Those words carried me through my first Georgia State Steel Championship and in the end I finished as High Lady in Limited Division. I must say I did not expect to win, I was for sure someone had beaten me.
As a shooter I do hold myself to a high performance standard and just because I won a title, my overall goal is to earn more wins where I truly felt I was shooting my best. When I saw that I was High Lady it was a huge surprise! Everyone has to start somewhere and I’m pleased with my early stages of what I hope to be a long career in shooting and training with handguns. I’ve been trained not to look at just the end result whether I won or lost, but how well I performed.
Thanks for sharing, Anna! For more about Anna and to follow her shooting adventures, check out her facebook page.
Have a milestone you want to share! Email us at info at womenofuspsa.com.
In December of 2011 I was asked to speak at a support group for parents of newly diagnosed children with Autism. I have a 3 year old with this devastating diagnosis. I talked about the daily struggles with Autism and how draining it can all be. I talked about my child’s erratic behaviors, and how every little milestone is like a quantum leap for my son.
I shared a few laughs and some tears. I shared the story of my journey with my son to a room of complete strangers. I explained that right now their lives may feel turned upside down, but they would find the strength to do whatever needed to be done for their child. They would make it through this trying time and learn to embrace their child for every morsel of who they are.
I told the mothers how important it would become for them to have an outlet; to find something that they love to do, something that will bring them moments of peace and a timeout from their crazy world. I assured them this this would be the most important thing they could do for their child and themselves.
A few moments later is was time for Q&A. The moms all went around and started telling each other about what their outlets were. Most said “yoga” or “meditation”, a few said “running”. Then it happened – I was still standing at the podium and a mother asked me, “What do you do for an outlet?”. I was all prepared to say something “normal” like all the other mothers, but then I just blurted it out; “I shoot guns” I said. You could have heard a pin drop in that room as I stepped down from the podium. The look of disbelief and shock was enough to make me want to crawl under a chair.
I know some of the women thought I was some kind of crazy person, and shame on me for keeping guns in my house with a child – let alone an Autistic child! I live in a very anti-gun state, so their reaction to my unethical past time was no surprise. There is no doubt I was the only mom in this room with a handgun under her Burberry coat.
I felt they needed an explanation as to this bizarre hobby of mine. So this is what I said…
“Everything in my life after my son’s diagnosis had been spiraling out of control. I felt like a victim of Autism! I felt like Autism was holding my son hostage with no intent on letting go, and everyday I embarked on a never ending journey with my son. Don’t get me wrong, the rewards are endless. My son has taught me more about life, patience, acceptance and strength than I could ever teach him. I wouldn’t change one thing about my life or my son! But there are times when I feel like I can’t even breathe.
Shooting makes me feel in control, it makes me breath, it makes me clear my head of everything other then the gun in my hand and the target that stands down range. From the moment I step on that range I forget about Autism. It’s my moment!”
I told them I shoot a sport called USPSA. I explained that it’s a difficult task, that you have to be focused, you have to map out a plan, be accurate, very fast, and have complete control over your mind and body – much like the yoga they speak of.
Most of all, shooting makes me happy! I’m not even really that good at it, but Autism has taught me that with a lot of hard work and persistence, you can achieve greatness.
I told them my hope to be a top competitor someday.
I also told them my dream: That one day my son will also enjoy this sport that I love so much.
I told them how shooting also helped my marriage. My husband and I do this hobby together, and we are even pretty competitive with each other. Our date night once a week is Wednesday night practice at our Gun Club, and any Sunday we can find a babysitter you will find us at a local match! The people we shoot with are some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They have rallied around my husband and me and offer a great reprieve from our hectic life.
So yes, some would say the way I choose to unwind is far from typical, but nothing about my life is typical.
When I was done with my long explanation of my frowned-upon hobby, one mother sitting in the first row said, “So you started shooting guns because your son has Autism?” I laughed and replied with “NO – I just started shooting more!”
I went on to answer many questions from the mothers in that room about my hobby. I even exchanged phone numbers with some who were interested in hearing more.
I felt GREAT when I left. Not only did I educate these moms about Autism, I also enlightened them about guns! Win, win!
Mother of an AMAZING boy Named Nicholas, and Shooter
USPSA # A68162
Editor’s Note: Every now and then, we at the WoU are again reminded why we began this web site, this cause. It’s precisely because of stories like this; stories that need to be shared, stories that make us all feel better, stories that inspire and delight. Thank you Stacy for sharing your very touching and personal tale. It is our pleasure, indeed. Please introduce yourself when we see you on the range. We very much look forward to meeting you!
Huge thank you and congrats to Cheryl Fordyce for giving us this mini-match update from the Memphis Charity Classic!
The 2011 Memphis Charity Revolver Match was held on November 4 & 5 at the Memphis Sports Shooting Association in Arlington, TN.
My husband, Michael and I shot on Friday with the range officers and had the honor of shooting with David Olhasso, one of five Grand Masters in the match. This was my 3rd major match in the Revolver Division and my main goals at this match were consistently and accuracy. I managed this with two no shoots and no misses out of ten stages and 237 rounds. My best stage in the match was Stage 3 – Area 1 Revisited, Virginia Count, 24 Rounds, Free Style, Weak and Strong Hand. There were 72 shooters in the Revolver Division. I was really excited to achieve High Lady Award at this match at 58% of David Olhasso, match winner.
As always, Revolver shooters rock!!!
Here is a breakdown of the top three ladies in the match.
Cheryl Fordyce 58.32%
Sue Irish 51.41%
Elaine Chandler 42.37%
Joyce Wilson hopped out of the four-wheeler and sprinted over to the group of shooters on Bay 6. “Hey, welcome to the inaugural IDPA World Championship. Are you guys staying hydrated? Do you need more water?”
The blonde sprite spent more than a week doing the same thing on every bay – trying to reach out to every shooter at the World match and getting as much feedback from them as she could process.
Wilson, the Executive Director (ED) of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), has put a new face on the sport. As a former IDPA National High Lady, she empathized with shooters spending their day in the hot sun of Florida for the thrill of shooting the match. “As the Executive Director of IDPA, I basically run the day-to-day operations of the organization as well as essentially guide the overall direction. I try to always look at the big picture, while keeping the details in mind. I think this helps me see the overall course of fire when I’m shooting a match. I’m glad I was an active competitive shooter before coming to IDPA and it gave me a good idea what the sport was about.”
Her path to owning a gun is one familiar to many women who embrace shooting as a means of dealing with stress. “In 1994, while working as an Audiologist in a steel mill in West Virginia, I went through a pretty bad divorce where I was afraid for my safety. A patient of mine who happened to be a friend suggested that I take the handgun safety class he taught so I could obtain my concealed carry permit. After taking the class, I found out how much I enjoyed shooting and began competing to learn more handgun skills. I started with USPSA as IDPA had not been developed yet. However, as soon as IDPA was started, I was completely hooked. My original IDPA number was 448.”
Wilson may have begun shooting as a safety precaution – “ In the beginning, it was really important that I could protect and take care of myself; I appreciated not feeling like a sheeple anymore,” – but now the big attraction is social camaraderie.
Whether at her home in Arkansas or Texas, Wilson carries her gun, presently a Wilson Combat Miss Sentinel in 9mm for self- protection. “It’s a crazy world today and I believe that it’s up to us to protect ourselves. I think that generally I have better knowledge and gun handling skills than some of the law enforcement officials today. I also understand that they probably won’t be right there if something really happened and that I would have to protect myself.”
Although active and hands-on in the organization, the ED doesn’t find a lot of spare time in which to practice. “I’m kind of retired from shooting competitively. I was fortunate to start my shooting career in the Ohio Valley area where there are many clubs. I shot my first IDPA match at Ft. Harmer in Marietta, OH at one of the first IDPA matches held. Ken Hackathorn was running the match and I was hooked from the start. It was really neat to shoot with some of the great shooters like Ken, Rob Haught and Scott Warren to name a few.”
When she was shooting, were there any disadvantages in being a female in the sport? “I never really felt like there were any particular challenges other than usually being the only female or one of a very few on the range at any given time. I’ve always been a ‘tomboy’ and have always had more male friends than female friends. I’ve also worked more in male-dominated environments so I was somewhat used to just being ‘one of the guys’. One of the big advantages was that there’s still a lot of chivalry in IDPA and so most of the guys were always helpful about shooting tips and techniques. I think the guys really like having women on the range and so they tend to help out as much as possible.”
Another advantage may have been the mentors that the perky ED selected. “I’ve been fortunate to have lots of mentors in the sport. Living in West Virginia when IDPA started, I was fortunate to shoot with Ken Hackathorn, Rob Haught and Scott Warren, and was able to train with them on many occasions. And of course my biggest mentor is my husband Bill; luckily I knew a little about shooting when he and I met or I would have been terribly intimidated. Even though we don’t really shoot any competition now, he still shoots incredibly well. I’ve learned many things from the basics to many advanced techniques from all of them. They are all incredible trainers and each have different methods.”
In addition to her mentors, Wilson says she is, “…continually inspired by all of our shooters in many different ways. The new shooters that take to the sport with all their enthusiasm just bursting forth especially inspire me.”
Asked if she had any resources she would recommend to other shooters, she is quick to answer. “I haven’t kept up as well as I should have the past couple of years, but the timeless instructors like Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch, Ken Hackathorn, Scott Warren, Bill Rogers, Massad Ayoob are always good choices. Massad’s LFI 1 is an outstanding class for anyone who wants to carry a firearm for personal protection. I know there are lots of good new instructors as well. Asking around at big matches will give you lots of information. Also, Panteo Productions has done a great new line of videos on shooting skills.”
As one of the first women in sport, the IDPA boss has give much thought to bringing more women into the fold. “I think one of the big keys is just exposure. Many women still consider shooting and hunting to be men’s sports. I don’t think they realize how empowering it is to be able to protect yourself. I think we just need to show them how much fun it is.”
She recommends, “…bring your favorite female with you when you shoot ! Many women would feel more comfortable shooting with a female friend while others would like to shoot with their spouse or significant other. If we all just take a female that we know with us to the range, then more women will get involved. “
Her advice to female shooters is, “Keep listening and learning. I think we do that better sometimes than the guys do. For the most part, we don’t have that feeling that we know it all and can’t learn more. I’m not saying that all guys are like that but it seems like they may feel like they have to know more about ‘manly’ type things like shooting sports than what they actually may know. I think it’s important to learn new stuff all the time. Heck, that gets me in trouble as I always can think of new hobbies and I don’t have time for the ones I really like! The one thing that women shouldn’t do specifically is let the guys intimidate you! Just do your best in any situation. It all works out in the end.”
The best advice she received about shooting was from Massad Ayoob in LFI I (Lethal Force Institute Level 1): “’Hard estrogen beats soft testosterone.’ In context, he was talking about the fact that women don’t have to be victims. We can be strong in anything that we do. I like to believe that I have some pretty hard estrogen,” she says with a laugh.
What is IDPA doing to bring more women into the sport? “Not nearly enough!!” she declares emphatically. “Women are important for the future of IDPA as well as for the future of gun rights in general. We’re definitely open to suggestions about how to attract more women into the shooting sports. We really want to open up better dialogues between members and HQ.”
The move to Executive Director left her with some big shoes to fill, as husband Bill is the President of the organization. Wilson recalls their first meeting at the Smith & Wesson Winter Match in 2000 with a smile. “It was the first really big match that I had taken ‘High Lady’ and while we had many common friends, we had never met. I truly believe that things happen for a reason in life and I believe that Bill and I were destined to meet.”
Are there any advantages in shooting with your spouse? “As far as advantages/disadvantages of being a shooting couple, it’s tough to quantify. I think there are lots of potential advantages to being a ‘shooting couple’ such as mutual support, the enjoyment of a shared hobby, and mutual friends. The disadvantages include such things as competitive spirits that sometimes collide as well as twice the cost, etc. In my situation, it was sometimes difficult to be Bill’s girlfriend and then wife, as I sometimes felt more pressure to perform than what I might have felt otherwise. I was a decent shooter when Bill and I met, but I still didn’t have the years of experience that he had.”
Joyce’s awards include High Lady trophies at the 2000 National Championship and the 2000 Smith and Wesson Winter Nationals in 2000. The one of which she is most proud is the Most Accurate Shooter in the 2005 South African Championship. Should we expect to see the First Couple of IDPA at any matches soon? “We retired from competitive shooting around 2006. Bill was pretty burned out and I was having some significant knee problems. I ended up with partial knee replacements that make it very difficult for me to take a kneeling position. I’m way too competitive to not participate 100%, so while I really do miss it terribly, I just can’t be competitive as I would want to be. I’ll shoot some local matches and may shoot a stage or two just for fun at a big match, but I probably won’t shoot a whole match. “
Wilson describes how her role at Headquarters evolved. “I’m the Executive Director of IDPA. Bill is still the President and John Sayle is the Vice-President/Secretary. When I moved to Arkansas in 2000, Bill had me take over Treasurer duties, which basically meant that I did the book keeping and paid the bills. At that time he had his hands full with Wilson Combat and so I just gradually took more responsibility. John had a company of his own and they just basically left me alone to run IDPA. Obviously, I had immediate access to Bill and he and I discussed the business and the direction of the sport at great lengths. I guess he decided that I was doing a good job and just left decisions up to me. We still talk about the sport and where it’s been and where it’s going but he doesn’t really do much directing now.”
Does her husband miss being hands-on in IDPA? “I would say that he’s the supreme advisor. I bug him when there’s a situation that I’m just not sure how to handle. We also have him make decisions on rules or equipment that we’re just not comfortable with. I don’t think he really misses the ‘hands-on’ part because he’s enjoying the ‘semi-retirement’.”
Wilson wrinkles her nose when questioned about disadvantages of being the female ED of an organization in a male-dominated sport. “I just consider myself to be the end of the line as far as the blame is concerned. I never really consider what happens if things go right, I just know I’m going to get the blame if I (or we as an organization) screw up. I’ve always been a tomboy and feel like I relate better to men than women, so I don’t give the gender aspect that much play. I guess I assume that members will understand that we just try to do the best we can to keep the sport true to it’s principles and in the best interest of the membership in general. I would hope that the membership and industry would look past the gender issue as well and just accept me for my knowledge and genuine interest in doing the best that we can.”
Under the leadership of the ED, members have already seen some positive changes, such as an inaugural World Shoot in September of this year. The difference between the Worlds and the Nations Championship is “…the size and the scope of the match. We want all the matches that we are responsible for to be the best that they can be. We hope that this inaugural World Championship was a big step above. To me, it’s difficult to think that we’re establishing history. I wanted this match to be the most awesome thing that our members could experience with as many different Nations and Nationalities represented as we possible. We solicited stages from all participating countries all over the world and dressed the match up with local flavors of all the participating countries. And I’m hoping that in time it will move from Country to Country as the World IPSC matches do.”
Did the conflicting date issue cause any problems between IDPA and USPSA? “I think that generally the IDPA-USPSA relationship is pretty good. Several years ago, we had a conflict with dates for our National Championship. There was no ‘malicious’ intent in the scheduling; I just didn’t give it a thought that the dates would conflict. We talked with the appropriate parties at USPSA and didn’t have a problem until this year. I thought that we had dates established and that we didn’t need to revisit the issue. I didn’t know until after we had scheduled the World Championship – during the same time period that we held the previous National Championships – that USPSA had moved their match. We moved our match several years ago to accommodate their match so I really don’t think we caused the problem this year. I feel that if they had a problem and needed to change their dates, then it was up to them to contact us. I would have contacted them if we had to change our dates. I just think that would have been the considerate thing to do. I really hate that our championships are running over top of each other, but our plans were too far along when we found out that there was a problem. We intend to keep the dates around Sept 22-24 so hopefully there won’t be a problem next year.”
Although the size of the World Championship increased, there were some learning opportunities for HQ. “We found that the match was just too big. We wanted to make the World Shoot a really big shoot, but in doing so we lost sight of the fact that the shooters need time to socialize as well. There were social activities, but they need time to socialize during the match as well. Running 9 or 18 bays and starting at 7am was also a bad idea. In the future we’ll go back to starting at 8. This gives the safety officers and match staff time to set up in the morning. It’s more important to have a quality match than a quantity match. It was good to solicit stages from around the world. This gave us different perspectives on scenarios. I think the match was a success overall. I know that there were some difficulties, but I’ve never shot a match that was perfect – and I’m not just talking about my own performance,” she says wryly.
Wilson also discussed her goals for IDPA. “I would absolutely love to see IDPA become the ‘SASS’ of the concealed carry world. I think that if we can reach all the new gun owners and concealed carry permit holders to show them that this is an incredibly fun way to learn important gun handling and shooting skills, we can grow the membership by leaps and bounds. I feel that the membership of IDPA is a little different than some of the other shooting sports in that our membership is even more conservative; therefore, traditional marketing methods probably aren’t going to work as well. So we’re trying to be active in other ways. While we are 15 years old now, I still feel like IDPA is a new and growing sport. We have lots to learn and hopefully with the inclusion of innovative people like Toni ‘Honeybunny’ D and our Tiger Team members. I’m pretty conservative as well. I want to make sure we make good decisions about the long term future of IDPA.”
With a conservative, long-term view for the sport, the ED recently sent a letter to IDPA members about some clean-up and clarification of the rulebook through the use of Tiger Teams. Wilson explains the thought behind this initiative. “The Tiger Teams were a necessity to get active shooters involved in the whole clarification process. While Robert still shoots quite a bit, none of the rest of us really do, so it just made sense to get perspective from the people who are out there at the matches. I feel really good about the people that we picked for the initial Tiger Team. Not only are they really active shooters, but for the most part, they’ve been with the sport since the early days. They’ve seen where it has been and where it is going. They also understand the principles of the sport. While it’s a daunting task, their experience and knowledge will give us what we need to set the foundation for the sport to grow. I’m not going to speculate on what the final outcome will be yet with their work. I will hope that we’ll get a more streamlined and possibly smaller document to work with. The neat thing is that while they’ve got the original document to work with, they’ve basically been given a blank slate. Using a team and great brainstorming methods allows them to think out of the box. I’m really excited to see what they come up with.”
She is very realistic about some outcomes. “It won’t make everyone happy. There are lots of diverse personalities and ideas about what IDPA is and should be. Their goal is to keep it within the framework of what the founders built. We will definitely not be going the ‘IPSC lite’ route. I have full faith that they understand that. We want to keep the sport true to its roots and geared towards the concealed carry market.”
When she isn’t shooting, the soft-spoken woman has other passions she pursues. “My main hobby outside of shooting is flying. I have a Private Pilot Certificate with an Instrument Rating. As a pilot friend of mine always said, if I have to drive over 20 minutes, I’d rather fly. I also have horses and cows that keep me pretty occupied. And I like to tinker with sewing, particularly embroidery. Being a geek, I like to digitize logos, etc, and work with my embroidery sewing machine.”
Wilson is also a passionate hunter, and even with a late start in that arena has been very successful. “I didn’t shoot my first handgun until I was 34 and I didn’t start hunting until the following year. Now I’ve taken animals in 7 different countries and have taken over 30 different species.”
The IDPA ED agreed to a finish the following sentences as part of the discussion.
Three things I wish our membership would do:
1. Give us a break, we’re human too. While I think I have some of the best staff to be had this side of Mars, we are human and can make mistakes once in a while. The Internet gives people who would have never made a comment a new venue to trash an organization or company for the slightest perceived mistake.
2. Understand that change isn’t always bad. The points system for the World Championship was a brilliant suggestion by one of our members. But, people defeated it before it ever had a chance to work. People assumed that it would be detrimental and that they wouldn’t get in and therefore created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Change can be great and it’s because of new and bright ideas that organizations grow.
3. Remember a famous Ken Hackathorn saying “Big Boy Rules.” We don’t want a 300 page rulebook. And believe me, you as members don’t want a 300 page rulebook. That would be like the however many gazillion pages of the Federal Tax Code that no one really understands. If you read the principles of the sport, then the rules will make sense and we shouldn’t have to delineate every dotted I and crossed t. If you’re looking for a competitive advantage in the rule book, then maybe you should practice more. The best competitive advantage is not in the rulebook or the equipment it’s in your ability to use the equipment that you have chosen.
The 2 most important items I could tell an IDPA member about what the organization & BOD is doing for them are:
1. First and foremost is that we are holding with all of our might to keep the sport as true and pure to the original founding principles as possible.
2. We’re doing whatever we can to keep it as economically feasible as possible to have anyone participate whom wants to.
Finally, if you weren’t the Executive Director of IDPA, your dream job would be…”Wow, that’s a tough one. I guess If I could snap my fingers and do whatever I wanted, I would have been a heart surgeon. Probably a huge surprise to all, but medicine was actually my first interest. Although now, after getting my pilot’s license, flying really big iron would be right up there as well.”
Look for more information from Joyce in the IDPA’s Tactical Journal each quarter on the progress of a streamlined rulebook.
My journey to Rhodes started early Saturday morning of October 1st. We probably were the ones who had the least traveling hours (after the Greek), as the flight time from Israel to Greece (Rhodes in particular) is only 1 hour. After reviewing all needed and very necessary advice on the net (GV and WS site), check-in was the easiest part, and the arrival to Rhodes was as smooth as it could have been. Easing our entrance to Rhodes was the welcome stand at customs from the organizers, and the mini shuttles to the official competition hotels, were we stayed. So after a 5am wake up, I found myself roaming the range and stages by 13:00 (1pm).
We were all sure that by then our squadding lists would be finalize, but the organizers had to deal with so many requests, amongst which was the obligation to have the Israeli shooters shoot the first 5 days of competition, due to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) that was on the 6th day of shooting. Needless to say that by the time we got to the Opening Ceremony day everything was sorted and finalized.
One of my favorite things with major competitions like WS is the get together of old friends and new, all those people we get to see once every 3 years (mostly the ones from the other side of the planet – Australia, Japan, Brazil…). What better place for it than the Opening Ceremony? Held in the ancient amphitheater of Rhodes gathered all 1400 competitors, ROs, sponsors and some local spectators for the Greek style ceremony. It was a bit of a shame though, that the ceremony was held at a relatively late hour, which meant most of the ceremony (local presentation) was done in pitch black conditions, and with the early buses for the next day’s shoot, most competitors did not stay for the whole duration on the ceremony.
It was my honor and pleasure to share my first day of shooting with squad 65 and Jessie Harrison, my friend from Area 8 sometime in 2008. It is always a great pleasure to be squaded with friends, and finally shooting with one of the best Ladies shooter in the world (3rd place and shoot-off winner after all ?). With us were squaded Ron Francisco, William Drummond, Alvin, Lilly, Johnny Lim, Ralph Arredondo and others. And we had a blast! Of course, starting with the water skiing stage and right after trying to memorize all 32 rounds of stage 30 in just about 3 minutes of walkthrough made the experience even more fun for us. The things that make us smile ?
As we progressed on Area 5 it became clear to all of us: WSXVI is not an easy match by no means. The organizers made sure that just about every other stage had a twist to it, and we were lucky enough to start in the area that included just about all the possible triple activators/ rope pulling or otherwise activated swinger or bobber. All those were laid down on not so wide shooting bays, which eliminated almost completely the ability to run in the match (with the exception of stage 8).
To our shooting day joined Megan Francisco, who enjoyed a day off, and came to support Ron. So what if we made her our private movie photographer… ? Thanks Megan! I think the films you made are the only ones I have from the competition! By the end of the first day I was sorry I couldn’t join my new friends for the rest of the competition, as I needed to rejoin my original squad – squad 70.
Shooting with Saul, Jorge, the Spanish, Dutch and Norwegian teams was a great experience for me. And having the Open Ladies squads shooting right along side us was the cherry on the cream for me. The major turn of the match for probably all of us came on the 3rd day of shooting, when we got to Area 2. What had happened that day (with stage 7 and 12) made all of us re-evaluate the real reason that we shoot, and as we all figured, we’re doing it because we like it! It’s fun! And with that in mind, most of us just managed to finally relax and really enjoy the match.
As I mentioned, this match was not easy and yet a lot of fun. The first stage that made me realize those facts was stage 18 on area 3 – the 32 round Trojan horse. No matter how many times we watched people shoot it, it always seems like there were at least 5 different possible solutions. The stage included 2 swingers and one mechanism with 3 targets on it, which keep on appearing and disappearing behind hard cover shields. And then there was the bridge we had to cross as well… Many activators, did I say that already?
Shooting with Jorge Ballesteros will always present you with another shooting option, but by the time I got to shoot (and after watching 3-4 different squads), it was very clear to me that activating the 4 swinging targets would be best from the end, as it created the perfect timing. As has been said by Saul Kirsch, this was probably THE stage of the match.
… That is until we got to stage 23. Yes, you’ve guessed, another 32 round stage, and as mentioned, laid on a not-so-wide shooting bay. Here the shooter had to find the best possible way to engage some 4 swingers activated from different positions, while moving backwards, shooting at low close and high far targets. Of course, finding a place to reload was also a big trick, as you wanted to keep the gun safe and muzzle direction legal as you moved between the very exact openings of shooting. Within the Ladies squad alone there were 4-5 different ways of shooting this stage!
My match ended on stage 21, a 9 round stage with an extremely unpredictable slider! I was happy after shooting it, as it felt right… like you feel when nailing a stage ?
As my good friend, Doni Spencer, was unable to attend the match, I took the honor of wearing my “solidarity Doni shirt”, and kept my promise to her being at the match, at least in spirit ? (and to the ROs of the match – No, I am not Doni…)
The shoot-off brought me back to the range after Yom Kippur, were we all finally managed to sit and talk, and mostly laugh from Julie Golob’s story of her donkey Rhodes trip… I don’t remember laughing that hard for a long time!!! Julie, if you ever decide to put on a stand up comedy, let me know where and when! You are a killer!
Unfortunately, due to an early flight out of Rhodes, I was unable to congratulate Megan and Jessie for their amazing achievement in their 1st World Shoot. It’s only the photos that have been uploaded online that helped me see all that I have missed from the closing ceremony.
As always, this experience would not have been possible without the constant support of my sponsors: Rudy Project, C-More, Double Alpha Academy, Competitive Edge Dynamics, and with the endorsement of the Israeli Shooting Association. A special thanks goes to Brandon Strayer and Infinity for creating the best gun a competitor could ever ask for. My baby ran perfectly and flawlessly during the match!
Big Thank You to the organizers for making this experience possible. Now Frank Garcia and Manny Bragg has a lot to work on for making WSXVII in Florida an experience that will last for years!!!
Julianna Crowder begins her Concealed Handgun License (CHL) class in Cedar Park, TX, with the question, “why do people own guns?” The dynamic blonde asks the class, “How many of you have heard of IDPA or Action Pistol Shooting?”
In the class of nearly 30 students, two hands tentatively rise. Crowder, a six year veteran of IDPA shooting says, “That is going to change right now.”
She vividly explains how much fun the sport is, and how vital IDPA is for citizens who conceal carry to have realistic practice that goes beyond dry fire exercises at home or static target practice at the range. She shows pictures featuring her and husband John shooting IDPA stages. At the end of the four minute verbal love fest, attendees are eagerly asking questions about where they can find an IDPA match, what they need, and can they please shoot with Julianna and John.
The Texan-by-way-of-California instructor is 51%-owner of JJBM, LLC making it a female-owned corporation. The initials stand for John, Julianna, Blake, Matthew – the owners and their two sons. Including their boys in their shooting endeavors is important to mom and dad. “We believe that we are all responsible for our personal safety, but we work together as a family to take care of each other. “
In 2007, the Crowder’s created Capitol Area Practical Shooting (CAPS), teaching Co-Ed Concealed Handgun License and Firearms Training. Julianna explains, “John made me get my CHL and I wasn’t really that interested at the time. While I was sitting in class watching the instructor teach and his wife sitting in the back doing admin work, I thought to myself that John and I could totally do this. Teaching anything about guns was not my talent, but John is a natural teacher, and very good at it. My talent is developing the business. After a year, John encouraged me to get my CHL instructors license since I had sat through his class at least 12 times and was beginning to pick up an interest. I was very interested in the legal issues of gun ownership and use of force. By the end of 2009 I was teaching on my own and found my talent for teaching novice shooters.”
Husband John has nothing but praise for his wife’s ability to captivate students. “Julianna can relate to what it feels like to be a new shooter, and understands the stress, excitement and sometimes fear that comes with learning a new skill, especially shooting. Julianna didn’t grow up hunting or shooting as a family activity, so she can relate to the transition a woman makes when learning to shoot for fun or for self defense.”
Based on the success of CAPS, JJBM initiated the Women‘s Safety Academy of Texas (WSAT). In her classes, Crowder says they meet many women who want to learn to defend themselves, but don’t sign up for class because they think they are fine; the women who are turned in and want to take a class do not allow themselves time to actually do it. “John and I keep telling the scary truth, that we are faced with violence in our community. Since so many of the clients coming through our CHL classes were women, I decided to have a section of our company be completely women-focused to encourage more women to seek training. As I was developing the ladies-only program, it was clear that not all women are comfortable with guns or even wanted to accept the idea that they should be in charge of their own personal safety. I met Vicky Kawelmacher , owner of Women’s Shooting Academy, in Reno NV. She has gun, knife, pepper spray courses and created a course called the WARRIOR in Every Woman. I flew to Reno to get certified in her WARRIOR program, and observed her business model.
“I began my search for other women instructors that could contribute their talents, and Women’s Safety Academy of Texas was born in September 2010. I know that women don’t generally take time for themselves to take a class, and it may not be high on their priority list with kids, husbands and jobs competing for their time. But what we have found is that whatever information we can share with them on that one day could save their life or inspire them to continue on with additional training. We developed clinics that are meant to give the most important and basic information for each self defense tool. We encourage everyone to continue some sort of training or set time aside to practice the skills they learned. We understand that only a small percent of people will continue to train, or take a series of classes. But we have been able to reach women that would have never walked into other various self defense studios, give them a sense of empowerment, taken away the scary factor and know that we made a difference!”
Two other female instructors have joined Crowder in the ladies-only arena: Auristela Moctezuma teaches the basic knife and hand- to-hand clinics, and Rhonda Esakov is the Hunters Education Instructor.
This goal-oriented shooter’s efforts don’t end there. “Because I enjoy teaching the firearms classes, and wanted to have way for my clients to practice and get introduced to the world of shooting sports, I was led to develop A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League. I started with a goal to have a shooting club for our clients, a way to find more women interested in getting involved, and also a vehicle for them to desire more education. It has turned into umbrella organization of support. We are still in the initial stages but the grand picture we have now is offering support to local clubs by planned activities and matches, providing membership perks which includes insurance for “chapter” events, discounts on venders that range from accessories, gear, clothing, even restaurants for dinner after our Girl’s Night Out, and special classes and clinics. “
A Girl and a Gun (AGAG) co-founded with Renee Blaine of Austin Hotshots, was formed to educate and encourage women about the opportunities of recreational and sport shooting, and to promote women’s interest and participation in the competitive shooting sports. AGAG also wanted to create an environment that supports women shooters and generate opportunities for women and girls in the shooting sports. AGAG members frequently attend IDPA matches in the Austin/San Antonio/Leander area under the tutelage of Julianna, as do some of the male students from the CHL classes.
She also uses social media to reach out to women regarding shooting. “I utilize FaceBook and Meetup.com to connect with my clients, and potential female shooters. The month of May was shooter lingo month. I was inspired by the GSSF magazine and decided to post that info on A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League FaceBook page to see if that would spark interest in our league, at the same time giving out nuggets of information to help new shooters be familiar with our sport. “
A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League, LLC is in the process of applying for an 501(c)7 Not For Profit status, and will be a member owned organization with satellite chapters. She explains the goal of this new organization in relation to other shooting sports. “We don’t want to segregate ourselves from the mainstream competitive organizations. We just want something that is a launching pad for female shooters. It is also important for women to spend time together in an empowering activity. It changes lives when a woman finds her power in one skill set, then she can apply that empowerment to many other aspects of her life. “
With all of these shooting-related efforts aimed at female shooters, one would think Julianna had been shooting all of her life. “ My dad took me out a few times as a kid, bought me a BB gun, let me shoot the real guns on camping trips and outdoor events. But it was my husband John who introduced me to the sport of IDPA over a decade ago, and encouraged me to learn to shoot for the purpose of self defense and hunting.”
She admits being “… fascinated by the shooting community. The respect and friendship we share is wonderful, and reaches from club to club, state to state. I also enjoy the moments when I can put a gun into a woman’s hand and watch her fear melt away into accomplishment.”
Why does Crowder shoot and carry a gun? “At first it was to spend time with John sharing his hobby. Over the last 4 years I have become comfortable with the gun as one of my tools for self defense. So now I shoot as much as I can so that I have confidence in the self defense plan I have incorporated, and it has become my hobby, too!”
This hobby has led Crowder to become an IDPA evangelist. She has,” …dabbled in USPSA , but for the most part my experience is IDPA-style matches for pistol and carbine. There are other opportunities for almost every type of competitive shooting in Central Texas, but time and distance affect what we actually participate in. John came to me one day and invited me to go with him to Texas Tactical and try out this thing called IDPA. I was like ‘ok, whatever… do we get to eat somewhere special? ‘ Yeah, not so glamorous the first time out. We had to leave at the crack of dawn, drove to the middle of nowhere, used a homemade outhouse… and I had no idea what was happening while I was shooting, just was told draw from your holster (which I had never worn before) shoot accurate and go as fast as you can, don’t hit the non-threat… WHAT! I think we had to get home because of the babysitters, so no fun meal afterwards. But through all of that I had a lot of fun and then understood why my husband was shooting EVERY WEEKEND – and now I wanted to join him, too!”
The Glock Girl (her nickname among her networking friends) is quick to point out she is not the only woman in the country trying to start a ladies- only shooting club. “There are others further along in the process of establishing clubs and they inspired the vision of what I would like to accomplish. What I first noticed is that the ladies clubs are either for hunting, trap/skeet, with a small emphasis on NRA- style pistol leagues; social groups that aim to bring glamour and style to casual get-togethers at the gun range; local leagues that encourage the sense of community; or gun clubs with a ladies program run by men. All better than nothing, but there is room for one more! Our goal is to create an organization that focuses on education, makes it fun with a certain amount of glam, but ultimately brings women into the competitive shooting world and sponsors special events just for them.”
She points to previous work experience as a building block for her shooting and business efforts. “Beginning at age 15, I have been a fast food rock star, retail wonder-woman, and call center life saver. I opened my dance studio in 2000 where I learned how to be a business owner. In 2007 I sold my studio to move into my current business teaching Concealed Handgun License and Firearms Training. What I learned from my other jobs and dance studio is that customer service and providing a quality product is just as important as the skills and techniques that we teach our clients. John and I decided in the beginning that we didn’t want to be “weekend instructors” but to establish our company as my full time job and develop it to grow beyond Saturday classes, and establish a network to get people involved in shooting sports and become safer gun owners.”
Although she spends much of her time in front of a class or audience, she admits to being uncomfortable in the spotlight, but tempers that with, “I appreciate the recognition of a job well done, but don’t like the pressure of competition. I enjoy working behind the scenes and would rather create opportunities for others to excel. It is like being a proud mama, getting to watch and be proud knowing that I helped someone achieve a goal or accomplishment. “
As an IDPA competitor, Crowder finds being a woman shooter a minor advantage, as the men are so surprised to see a female shooter, their expectations are put on hold. This alleviates a lot of the stress and she can learn and grow at her own pace. “I have also discovered in a training course I can ask questions and get very detailed answers, which then the other dudes in class are gathering around to hear the answers, too!”
She hesitates briefly when asked what challenges in the shooting sports she has had specific to being a woman. “Professionally speaking, there is no gentle way to say this except I have learned that being firm and aggressive is sometimes considered being an overbearing, pushy woman. When my male counterparts are firm and aggressive it is un-noticed. Having the tough meetings, asking the questions, negotiating the deals, I have to remember when and how to use my ‘war face.’ The personal challenges are how to participate in the sport and still keep my female edge. Finding gear and clothing designed for the female figure is the biggest challenge.”
This Texan answers immediately regarding who her mentors have been. “My husband has been my main mentor. He is always teaching me, sharing a strategy, keeping me up on the best techniques, making opportunities for us to shoot, and, most importantly, encouraging me to keep trying even when I am not progressing as fast as I would like too. Through John and his friends in the shooting community I have had the opportunity to meet and befriend many wonderful people that have become mentors in different ways. Terry Burba, a perennial CSO at Nationals and Safety Officer Instructor in Texas, has mentored me to be a leader in the organization and development of new shooter programs to help get our clients into the sport. He also took time to encourage me as a woman in this sport and remind me that I can play in this boy’s club and do just fine! And I am inspired by all the other gals out there teaching classes and leading others to participate.”
While Crowder wants to travel around the country taking classes and learning different styles and techniques, she also has hobbies aside from IDPA. She loves to cook big family meals and spend family time with John, Blake and Matthew.
As a competitor and instructor, she likes many types of guns. “I really enjoy shooting my Glock. I just got a Glock 34 and have been training with that as my competition gun. I got the nick name The Glock Girl at a networking event. I love shooting my AR-15; John spent the time to customize it and duracoated it lavender so I stand out in the crowd and it always makes for good conversation”, she laughs. She also has named her family of Glocks: Helga the 34, Gretel the 19, and when the baby Glock 26 arrives she will be called Gretchen.
On a serious note, Crowder is thoughtful about how to bring more women into the shooting sports. She is convinced that it takes having a sense of community among female shooters. “Women come together to encourage and support each in many ways, and there is usually an established group or organization they all want to join and participate in. I also think having a role model that is the ‘everyday woman‘ is the key. Walking into any competitive sport automatically sets expectations on us that we may or may not be able to achieve based on time, talent, passion and monetary factors. We can redirect the focus to not compare ourselves to master class shooters or other shooters with different goals, but just to get out there and have fun, and only challenge ourselves to be better than the last time. Being content and comfortable with the idea that every time we step up to the line, we are improving ourselves as the ‘everyday woman’, is a big step. I think we would see more women coming out if we could promote that idea.”
She also believes that male shooters have an effect on women’s participation, as well. “As with any sport, there is the idea that if you want to participate you either have to excel or you are disposable. That is what I love about our shooting community. Everyone is accepted and I can speak from experience that everyone has an interest to see me grow as a shooter, but maybe a different reason… to win a prize, a title or creditability as an instructor. The men in a female shooter’s life just need to be interested in seeing them win with their self esteem. “
Julianna feels that, “The number of female shooters is low because it is perceived as a man’s sport and only the tough gals participate. There are plenty of wives that watch, but don’t feel comfortable participating. If there was an organization separate from IDPA, USPSA, IMG that encouraged them, trained them, and most importantly validated their skill level, I think we would see those women stepping out. “
This shooter credits a Pistol 1 class with providing her with the best shooting advice she ever received. “’Take up the slack in the trigger before your press it to the rear’ – I really like the word press over squeeze. I tend to squeeze my grip when I squeeze the trigger. By reassigning the word press, I can isolate my trigger finger from my hand with a mental image.”
She also shares some advice with other female shooters about what may NOT help them on the range. “Don’t put yourself down or think you can’t participate. Also, don’t expect special treatment. That will put you in the wrong mindset if the guys are doing everything for you; you won’t find your empowerment by loading your own magazines and taking charge of your own gear.”
What one or two things does Julianna currently do in training that are keys to her success? “I work on my mental game all the time. It is one thing to understand all the shooting fundamentals; it is a very different story getting your trigger finger to behave and your brain not to check out! I also have to keep the blinders on, meaning there are so many techniques and schools of thought that I get bogged down wondering if I should learn that style too! Pick one method of training and stick with it until you feel you have mastered it. Then if you want to move on to learn another one you have a base knowledge to compare it to.”
A giggle escapes her lips when asked what it is like to teach with her spouse. “We have a good time teaching together. It is very easy to run our comedy act off of our life with each other. The CHL course is very little about guns themselves, but more knowledge, mindset and awareness. We are very relatable in the sense that we are common people and give examples how to appreciate/respect guns and use them for self defense. We talk about how we incorporate our strategies as a couple, family, etc.”
Former US Marine and husband John gives some perspective on that, as well, as he relates, “Her personality is fun and light hearted. To be able to get up in front of a group of people, especially in a male dominated environment, to teach and offer different perspectives in training, is very brave. She puts a lot of thought into how to reach people and lots of time and effort into researching information for our students; she works really hard to educate herself so she can be a better resource. Julianna has a drive to do well and practice what we preach to our clients. She has the gift of being able to connect with people. She always makes an effort to learn as much as she can about the people she meets, wants to know how she can help them personally or professionally. A fellow IDPA shooter once called her a beacon, she is good at drawing people in and making them feel welcomed.”
Perhaps most important to many shooters reading this is learning how this beacon balances a job, kids, and all the shooting work she does. Again, the tinkling laugh escapes as she says, “I wonder that, too! I work on the business as much as I can while everyone is at school and work. I am guilty of working on the computer during evening family time. When a good idea or creative thought comes to me, I want to work on it right away! We teach our classes on the weekends, so we have help from our parents with our boys. We try to bring them to club matches, but until recently they were not really that interested in shooting with us. Now that they are 12 & 14 and they have an interest in want we do, we are busy getting them up to speed. Plus, when you love what you do, it doesn’t always seem like work.”
What future plans does this entrepreneurial shooter have for the future? “We have tried three times to set up an IDPA club, but each time had a strange set of challenges. The approach that seems the most logical for us is to set up an education program about competitive shooting, kind of like a New Shooter Day that lasts for 6 weeks at a time. There are many people out there that have no clue about competitive shooting. We meet 60-100 new people per month in our CHL classes and on average 2 people are familiar with the sport. I think that is vital to attract and keep new shooters in the sport. It will also allow the new shooters to learn and practice in a lower stress environment, making them better safer shooters when they participate in other club events. “