Wherein I Become a “Babe”
By way of background, back when I went with Guypal to that big show in 2007, I came across a table where there was a lady with a book and some flyers. It was something called “Babes With Bullets“. Apparently, there was this group of professional women shooters who would get together for a camp somewhere and teach other women to shoot. What a fantastic idea! But at the time, I knew nothing about firearms, I was a divorced mom in medical training, and something like this was not even on my radar…. yet.
Remember that first IDPA Match that I just talked about – the one that really lit my fire? Well, that turned out to be the last match of the season (insert heavy disappointment music – Wah, wah, waaahhhh). I was so fired up, but I was going to have to wait until the following Spring to get another fix. So, during this time period, I searched for, and found a deer rifle and went to the family deer camp for the very first time in my life — but that is fodder for another story on another day. A long, cold winter was looming, and after Deer Camp, the internet was my only solace.
I decided to Google Babes With Bullets again. Unfortunately, due to various family commitments, I was unable to attend camp on any of the dates they had available. Thus, I contented myself with watching their videos. Which I did – all winter long. As it turned out, I had yet another long cold winter under my belt before I would be able to attend a camp.
Meanwhile, I continued to shoot mostly by myself, with the occasional monthly match tossed in, where there were on average two other women besides myself. Sometimes it was just me. I was essentially the only woman in any of my circles for whom firearms was a hobby. I was a bit of a “weirdo” in that respect. Fortunately, all the men I shot with were very supportive. I learned something new from the RO’s at virtually every match I attended. They were all my “teachers”, and I continue to be deeply grateful for that. They never made me feel like I didn’t belong.
By the middle of the SECOND long winter without shooting, I had found “Babes” videos on OutdoorChannel dot com too!
I was becoming an internet “stalker” of sorts, and I finally emailed Camp Director Deb Ferns about it. She sent me a very gracious email in return and encouraged me to try really hard to get to camp. Turns out that the camp in April in Louisiana was going to fit my schedule perfectly! I just had to figure out how to get there.
Finding out how to fly with my pistol was a whole other experience that I won’t bore you with here, but it did put another roadblock of anxiety in my way that I had to overcome. Suffice to say that the experience did not live up to my fears, and I arrived safely at Kay Miculek’s home range in Louisiana on a beautiful Spring afternoon in 2011.
Babes Camp was… well, it was pretty much as Deb Ferns describes it, “Part adventure camp, part pajama party, and part firearms training”. Campers eat together, and bunk together for the better part of 3 days, so there is a bonding that happens that allows a great deal of emotional support during the firearms learning curve. For many women, this is the essential ingredient that helps it all gel. It also keeps them coming back for more camps – and bringing their friends/daughters/coworkers with them. If you have never attended a shooting event where the participants clap, cheer, hug, and “woo hoo” for eachother, then you haven’t experienced “Babes”.
This particular camp was the first time that they offered pistol and rifle training together. Thus, this is where I was re-introduced to my previous casual acquaintance the “Evil Black Rifle”. Since I had essentially “self-taught” my deer rifle by this point, (again, another story), I was grateful for some in-person long gun training, and a chance to get to know the AR-15 style platform.
Turns out, it was a great deal less intimidating that I had feared. The AR-15 is in fact, quite female-friendly. The adjustable stock made it easy to adjust to my short arms (unlike my deer rifle). It was also a smaller caliber than my deer rifle, so it didn’t pound my shoulder like I had become accustomed. It was also lighter weight and easier to handle than my wooden lever gun. To top it off, the camp had loaners from Smith & Wesson in not only the usual .223 caliber, but also the .22LR caliber which was even lighter and easier to handle for beginners. I could not have been prouder of those little holes that I punched in my paper plate!
Throughout the entire three days, I got great instruction from the likes of Kay Miculek, Lisa Munson, Annette Aysen, and Sheila Brey. Yep, me – a “nobody” – had the Greats of Women’s Shooting standing at my shoulder and giving me encouragement. It was unbelievable!
All of this was just a wonderful experience for me, but the thing that topped it all off and almost made me cry (Okay, DID make me cry) was that amongst these Ladies, I was NOT A WEIRDO!! I cannot express to you what a feeling that was, to be surrounded by other women who enjoyed shooting! For the first time in the nearly two years since I had bought my first firearm, I was NOT standing out in the crowd as the only female – I was SURROUNDED by females! In fact, I think the only man around for miles, was the shooting legend Jerry Miculek, and that’s just because he lived there. For the duration of that camp, the great Jerry M. was relegated to hauling benches, setting stages, and snaking the septic line after the ladies clogged it up. It was completely surreal, and an experience I will NEVER forget!