On target: NRA program exposing more women to shooting
BY MIKE PATRICK REPUBLICAN-AMERICANOctober 9, 20211208
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NAUGATUCK — Dozens gathered Saturday at a shooting range in Naugatuck State Forest for an event geared toward educating women on the use of firearms.
Both novice and experienced shooters participated in Women on Target, a National Rifle Association-sponsored target-shooting event at the High Rock Shooting Association’s range, where they shot rifles and pistols at paper targets.
“A lot of ladies that we get up here have little or no shooting experience,” said Karen Anderson, secretary of the association and organizer of the event. “We do a safety briefing with them and go over safe firearms handling, and teach them the basic fundamentals of shooting.”
Female gun owners rose from 13% in 2005 to 23% in 2020, according to NRA statistics.
Anderson said she’s noticed more women at the shooting range.
“Working as a range officer here over the years, we would see ladies who would come up with their husbands or boyfriends and not shoot, and they decided to be a part of it,” she said. “Especially when they see some of us ladies up here working, they want to be a part of it. I think a lot of ladies, too … are concerned for safety, and they’re doing a lot of it for self-defense and personal protection.”
Saturday’s event was split into morning and afternoon sessions, with about 20 women participating each time, Anderson said.
Ray Hanley, president of the association, gave a 10-minute presentation on gun safety, emphasizing three basic rules: always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
“Any time you take possession of a gun, of a firearm, you assume an awesome responsibility, you really do,” Hanley told the women. “Just like when you get behind the wheel of that vehicle, right? A lot of responsibility attached to it.”
After the safety session, the women were split into two rifle and pistol groups and began target shooting.
“I got my pistol permit last year and I purchased a 9 mm, and I’ve never shot it once,” said Amanda Richards, 42, of Southbury. “And just being a woman, I’ve just been kind of intimidated. This kind of just brought me into an environment where I feel comfortable to practice.”
Her friend, Margaret Pidskalny, 42, of Hamden, said her mother had been a member of the association and had helped organize previous Women on Target events.
“I lost my mom a year ago,” she said. “I’m kind of doing this again in memory of her.”
Richards said she obtained her permit and gun for her personal safety.
“I just wanted to be able to have a gun to protect myself if any sort of occasion would arise where I would need to rely on myself to protect myself instead of relying on someone like the police,” she said. “You’d always want to call them in a situation, but things going on in today’s world, that may not always be the case. So, I want to have the chance to be able to protect myself.”
Contact Mike Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @RA_MikePatrick or on Facebook at RA.Mike.Patrick.