Coyote Point Ladies’ Pistol Clinic, San Mateo

By Elizabeth Q. Smith, CRPA Board Member

We live in California and know full well that we have some of the most restrictive and non-productive gun laws in the nation. As gun owners, we continually face the challenges of being stereotyped in every negative way imaginable by ignorant anti-gunners (i.e. inbred rednecks). Whenever we try to defend ourselves, we are treated with contempt. We are not allowed to express our First Amendment rights whenever the liberals disagree with the Second Amendment. Gun owners fail to receive due process in the eyes of the liberal public because we are judged by a biased media and unfortunately, a nation of sheeple.

To combat these stereotypes and assist the public with pro-gun education, members of the Coyote Board invited me to help teach a ladies-only pistol course. This class was geared towards first-time shooters because we felt that it was best for the students to develop good habits and safety skills from the get-go. In my past experience, women have voiced their concerns of being intimidated by spouses and significant others when their “better halves” tried to teach them handgun shooting. From their descriptions, I believe that much of the problem was that the men did not understand the anxiety a beginner has with recoil and noise, especially if an indoor range is involved. I heard stories of women who were given centerfire pistols with full magazines. I’d be skitterish too if I was expected to handle recoil, noise, and hot brass being ejected straight at me without proper warning. And, that’s not to mention the criticism that often accompanies such “lessons.” There is always the feeling of being judged on performance. Sorry, but class is not meant to be another episode of Top Shot.

The seven-woman (several requested that their identities be withheld for confidentiality purposes) class covered a period of two days because the range falls under the jurisdiction of the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department, hence limiting the shooting hours to 10:00 A.M. The first day covered a straight lecture with the ladies learning how to dry-fire and manipulate Ruger SR22s. Board Members, Mike Norton, Bob Lum, and John Galloway provided an excellent Power Point presentation to give the ladies an opportunity to follow the lecture with visual emphasis on safety rules.

Mike also supplied the ladies with plastic Glocks equipped with lasers. This helped them understand trigger squeeze and sight alignment. It was a good learning experience for them to see how much movement there is even with a red dot, plus squeezing the trigger required focus, and breath control. This brought fun to the lecture while dispelling any anxiety they may have felt initially.

We encouraged them to ask questions and as I explained, I’ve been shooting for so many years that I often assume that I’ve covered everything when in reality, I lost them with terminology. For example, before the class, they didn’t know the difference between a revolver or a semi-auto. They were also shown the different calibers from a .177 to .50. We stressed that there is no such thing as a “stupid question,” as someone might be wondering the same thing. In any event, we all learn at different speeds and to insure the safety of the group, we wanted everyone to be clear before we moved forward.

The second day was spent shooting at Shoot N C targets. We felt that they would be less discouraged with practice if they could see their groupings. We told them not to worry about scoring since we wanted them to concentrate on sight picture and safety. Steve Crespi was kind enough to call the range commands to simulate a mock conventional 900 match for them. This gave them a small taste of what 20 and 10 second strings felt like in addition to loading their magazines for the next string of live fire. Each student had to clear her gun because there were stove pipes, light hits, etc. We were very proud to see that all guns were kept downrange and made clear before we headed for the target change. The students paid attention and had fun!

In addition to shooting, the ladies were given a tour of the facilities. Many people don’t realize the distance of 10 meters compared to the distance of 50 meters. We had them walk out to 100 yards to get an idea of what a rifle shooter sees. Other programs they may be interested in pursuing at Coyote Point once they’ve gotten basic pistol under their belts are: Hunter Education, NRA First Step Rifle, and Home Firearm Safety.

Teaching allows me to not only test my gun knowledge (which can never be too much learning!), but gives me a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and renew old friendships. In closing, I would like to thank the Coyote Point Rifle & Pistol Board, plus the following people for their kind assistance and donating the use of their Rugers:

  • Eugene Berman
  • Sharon Crespi
  • Steve Crespi
  • Donna Fong
  • John Galloway
  • Kendis Lowe
  • Bob Lum
  • Ed Mitchell
  • Mike Norton
  • Roy Sasai
  • Gary Shweid
  • Rod Smith