WHITE MOUNTAINS – According to the Department of Justice, three of four women will experience at least one violent crime. Various studies have proven just displaying a firearm will scare off a high percentage of offenders. There are roughly 307 million people in the United States as of 2009. Approximately 16,272 murders were committed in 2008 and about 67 percentage for those were committed with firearms. A study published in 2000 by the Journal of Quantitative Criminology reported that civilians use guns to defend themselves at least 989,883 times a year.
There are no hard and fast figures on the number of women gun owners, but the estimates by various gun organizations are that the number is over 17 million and growing.
Women are becoming gun owners and learning to shoot in larger numbers than ever before. The old methods of protecting yourself, such as blowing a whistle, learning martial arts, and using things like pepper spray and mace, aren’t enough to help women feel safe anymore.
Crime touches every part of the country, even in rural areas. Local radio personality Barbara Bruce knows first-hand what it feels like to be unprotected.
“I have a stalker and sleep with a butcher knife and bells on my doors,” Barbara said. “I don’t want to be a victim.” Bruce took a gun safety class offered by local resident Linda Gilbertson, a NRA certified firearms instructor, and she wasn’t the only one.
“I held 13 classes this summer for women only and have a waiting list,” said Gilbertson. During the class that Bruce attended in September, there were four women in attendance. “I try to limit the classes to four so I can have more one-on-one time with them,” states Gilbertson.
Tuula Bouquet, 66, and her daughter Anna-Marie Rea were there for the class. “I have a gun and need to know how to use it,” said Bouquet. “It’ll be safer for me and others.”
Gilbertson teaches the gun classes at her 80-acre ranch in Concho, appropriately named the High Caliber Ranch. She and her husband, Seth Nadel started the White Mountain Practical Shooters Gun Club in 1998 when they moved here from Tucson. Nadel is also a NRA certified firearms instructor.
Gilbertson comes by her gun training honestly. She was one of the first female officers that joined the Oregon State Police in 1974. She worked for the Treasury Department in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms division and was trained to shoot by the FBI.
“They (FBI) didn’t know that women learn differently than men,” she said with a grin. “Most of the women in my classes are over 40 and women are learning they are responsible for their own protection.”
The seven-hour class (which includes lunch) is structured to be both a basic course in the various types of handguns, safety concerns, learning how not to be a victim, and shooting practice with different kinds of handguns and live ammunition.
Learning the basics by watching videos and going over handouts starts the class. Learning how to load, the various types of ammunition, and the importance of the correct grip and stance are drilled into the class. Once everyone is comfortable with the safety lessons the class moves to the on-site target range to practice firing revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.
After lunch comes instruction in the principles of self defense and the “Color Code of Awareness.”
“Women have to have mental conditioning and understand the weapon, but they also need to learn how to be more aware of their surroundings,” said Gilbertson. “Women have been taught to let others protect them and they aren’t prepared to be alert to potentially threatening situations.”
The first color on the chart is white and is called the unaware color. Most women fit into this color. Whites are unaware of what goes on around them and are unprepared to deal with potential trouble.
“It is too large a mental jump to get into a combat or reactive mode from white. If you are attacked in white, regardless of your ability or equipment, you may not survive,” states the color code chart.
Yellow is the desired color and is classified as aware. The next stages are orange for alert and red for alarmed.
The women then move back to the target range to practice some more, this time using life-size paper human targets. The class moves back indoors where Gilbertson gives the women two handbooks to take home and study, and another video to watch on the basics of personal protection in the home.
The women are mailed an open-book test the next week and if they pass, are issued certificates from the NRA.
Gilbertson is already taking reservations for the 2011 summer series of classes. She will be adding an hour to the schedule as well as another text book on Arizona Law. There will also be an advanced class offered that focuses on different kinds of targets and reloading options.
There are a couple of free benefits to taking Gilbertson’s class; the offer to go with you to purchase your gun and free practice on her range at any time.
To find out more information contact her at (928) 521-4821 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.