Saturday, March 21, 2015

Take your Students, and Yourself, as you are

So often instructors get stuck in a mindset of this is how to grip, this is how to stand, this is how to whatever.  But what about the student who had a limitation, who can't do it that way?  Or what if you can't do it that way?  Are you prepared to think on your feet and come up with ideas?

One of the most common examples I've seen is a hand limitation.  I worked with someone quite recently who was recovering from a stroke and had lost most of the control of his dominant hand.  He still wanted to keep his trusty .38 for home defense but asked for advice on how to hold it.  I encouraged him to practice with his left hand, which works perfectly.  Remember, if you are going to shoot one handed, cant, or angle the gun, slightly toward to center.  20-30 degrees is enough.  This gives your wrist more stability.

I've been putting too much wear and tear on my hip and have small tears in the lining and other issues.  This meant using a cane for a while.  Well, what looks more vulnerable than a 50+ woman limping through a parking lot?  a 50+ woman limping through a parking lot with a cane.  So, BOB earned his place again with me practicing balance while wielding the cane to create distance and give me a chance to do something else...running isn't really an option at this point.

What do these two things have in common?  Limitations, and identifying workarounds.  It doesn't have to be complicated, but find a way and then practice that way.  If it is you, remember, you CAN DO THIS.  It may take a little out of the box thinking, but you can do this. 

If you are an instructor working with a student who has a challenge, remember they are probably frustrated and really need your patience, understanding and support.  Help them find a way.  You may have to try a couple different ways before one works, but part of being an instructor is taking your student as they are.

Safe Shooting!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Life Gets in the Way

I apologize for my absence and promise to try to do better.  Life can get in the way.  I am dealing with some serious personal issues, just put the finishing touches on my next book which should be out late summer (and I hope you like it!), went to Shot Show and been working on a proposal for book 4.  I know, I’m nuts!


But, I wanted to write about something near and dear to my heart that has been a recent topic of discussion.  Training.  As a Student.  It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced instructor or a brand new shooter.  Training is critical.  With more people buying firearms and getting Concealed Carry Permits, Defensive Training takes on new meaning.  You have to be ready to make those split second decisions, and possibly to justify them later.  You need to be confident in your ability.  You need to practice but perhaps most importantly, you need to take every class your budget will allow.


I enjoy taking basic classes occasionally. Not only do I learn something I want to incorporate into my classes, but I sometimes find things that I want to be sure I’m not doing.  Advanced classes, even though I tend to teach beginner by choice, are fun!  They challenge my skills, teach me new ones…I am signed up for a Defensive Shotgun Class in Jun!  I can’t wait.  I’ve never taken a formal long fun class and I think this will be awesome.  I’m mostly a handgun shooter, although I have a couple long guns and hope to go hunting one day.  But in my situation, living in a townhouse, a shotgun may actually be a better defensive firearm than a pistol, at least for my neighbors. 


Bottom line, no matter who you are, or what level you are at, take a class!  Not just any class, since you are spending your hard earned money, investigate the instructor and the course content.  Make a wise decision, but train.


Then, practice what you learn.  I spent some time this past weekend, I have a BOB (Body Opponent Bag).  I have a nickname for him, but I won’t share it here.  I practiced empty hand defensive strikes, followed by quick draws of a SIRT gun and firing.  I practiced rolling on the floor, drawing and firing.  I incorporated a few defensive yelling words, and at the end of 30 minutes was very much out of breath and feeling more confident in my ability to get knocked down still draw and fire my gun. 

My Buddy BOB, handsome fellow
My poor BOB takes a lot of abuse, but better him than me.  It is one thing to be shown how to push off an attacker, gain a little distance and fire, or get knocked to the ground, draw and fire without sweeping your own body, it is a very different thing to actually try it. 


And…it is fun.  


So, train as if your life may depend on it!

Safe Shooting!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gun Bunnies

I may be a little late to the party but I just learned the term Gun Bunny. Women like this reflect badly on women in the industry, They dress inappropriately for the range and pose for pictures with unsafe gun handling then get all defensive when called on it. They have cutesy names, and trade on their looks for goodies from manufacturers.
The opposite of the women I know who are serious, safe and have IQs higher than our bust measurements. I can not tell you how proud I am to be associated with this amazing group of women.

For the Gun Bunnies, you do us a disservice, posing as "real" shooters while pointing a gun at yourself and justifying with "It isn't loaded and I can't reach the trigger".  You think it is cute to pose in a bikini top with a gun.  If this is you, you are a poser.  I'm sorry if you are offended, but you damage the female shooting community every time you do the cute little pouty face over the barrel of a gun. 

Real women Shoot!  Real women are Serious, and Safety Conscious.  It doesn't matter if we are young and nubile or old and wrinkled.  We care about the sport, the industry and sharing the concepts of safety and responsibility. 

If you recognize yourself, take this as a wake up call.  You are not helping anyone, not even yourself.  We are laughing at you and calling you what you are. 

Wake Up sister, no one likes a poser.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gearing up for Shot Show 2015!

Woo-Hoo!  Getting ready to head to Las Vegas! You know the saying, What happens in Vegas, Stays on FaceBook!


If you have not had to chance to go, Shot Show in a word in AMAZING!  Everything and everyone affiliated with industry.  And, like the rest of the shooting community, they’re NICE!  I live near Washington DC.  So, I’m used to big city rudeness.  Imagine my shock when med held doors for me, or stepped aside for me to get on the escalator?  WOW!  Then, the true celebs in the industry, Jerry Mickulek, Julie Golob, Kathy Jackson, Ted Nugent, Joe Mantegna (rrrrrrrrrr), Mike Seeklander, Rob Pincus, Lisa Looper, Vicki Farnam, Julianna Crowder…and there are the minor league celebs…people still working their way up, like me!  Ok, ego aside, it is fun to be treated like a celebrity, even a minor one, for a few days.  I’ll be signing books, hanging out at booths doing autographs (still can’t believe people want my autograph, but I like it!) 


To give you a little glimpse into the world of Shot Show below are some photos from the past 3 years.  Can’t wait to get more for this year!!  If you are going, come by Anglers Book Seller on Tue between 2 and 3 and say hi, I’ll be signing The Home Security Handbook!


Safe Shooting!

Julie Golob

The Gun Diva

Jerry Miculek


Lisa Looper

Rob Pincus

Show Security

Kathy "The Cornered Cat" Jackson

Becky Lou Lacock

Julianna Crowder

Mike Thiemer

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We Need More Women Shooting Coaches

We Need More Women Shooting Coaches
By Sally Stevens
The youth shooting sports demographic has changed in a positive way over the last several years,
moving from predominantly male to a greater balance of male and female shooters. There
continues to be, however, a significant lack of female shooting coaches across all shooting sports
disciplines. This is totally logical, in my opinion, as the usual time progression for shooters
moves from youth shooter to adult shooter and, possibly, adult coach. I believe there is an
untapped resource out there to change this pattern, as waiting for our many young female
shooters to become coaches and mentors does not need to be the only way to increase female
shooting coaches.
How do I know this? As a 42-year-old widow and mother of three youth shooters, I was asked by
their coach to try the sport, just for fun. I declined twice but, being a good Minnesotan, politely
accepted on the third offer and shot 2/25. My score was bad, clearly, but a spark was ignited in
me and I was hooked on both the sport and shooting competition! Within my first year I logged
in over 10,000 targets in practice and competition, completed the NRA Level 1 Shotgun Coach
class, and started helping the coach who first introduced me to the sport.
Was I, initially, afraid to try and, more accurately, afraid to fail, especially in front of my
children and everyone else at the club? Absolutely.  Ultimately, though, it was the
encouragement I received from coaches, parents, fellow shooters and, especially, the pride of my
children and my love of the game that propelled me forward.
Now, as a NRA Certified Level II Shotgun Coach and a member of the National Shotgun Coach
Development Staff, I train, mentor, and encourage women to take their own leap of faith to
become shooters and coaches.  I encourage you to reach out to mothers, sisters, aunts, female
friends—these are just some of the many women in our shooters’ lives who have the potential to
become influential, impactful coaches and mentors.
In Minnesota I mentor several women coaches who, like me, had never shot a gun before
adulthood but are now positively influencing hundreds of youth as successful coaches. Coaching
doesn’t stop with our athletes; it extends to finding those who can impact positive change in our
disciplines and coaching them towards success.
Mothers of youth shooters are some of my favorite people.  Granted, that may be because I
started out as a mother of youth shooters before also becoming a shooter and, ultimately, a
coach, but mostly it’s because there is something very powerful about a mother committed to
your shooting program.  Many of my hardest workers, organized and dedicated volunteers, and
most passionate coaches are women.  Several did not start out this way and, in fact, did not want
their children participating in shooting sports at all!
A few tips, choice words, and education usually help even the most cautious, protective parent to
view shooting sports in a more constructive light.
As a coach I am particularly tuned into all attendees on registration day, with youth shooters
usually very excited and parents in tow. In my experience, I find parents with reservations,
usually mothers, wait until the paperwork is done before asking questions regarding safety,
procedure, or expectations. This is a crucial time and one not to be brushed off. The question you
are really being asked is, “Will my child be safe?” Know that it is not enough to simply tell a
parent that yes, everything will be fine—it is your responsibility as coach to prove safety is first
and foremost in your program.
Part of the requirement for all our shooters, from new shooters to our national competition
squads, is to attend our 30-minute safety class annually. No exceptions. We also require parents
new to our program to attend, followed by a new shooter orientation, another 30-45 minute class
outlining expectations, responsibilities, and the basics of our sport. During this time I see the
biggest change in parent attitude as, most often, fear is predicated by a lack of information.
We follow this with a question and answer session, and end with a call for adult volunteers! I am
always struck by the number of women who previously expressed concerns but after attending
the safety and procedure classes, they become our biggest support system. In fact, many of our
shooters mothers have asked for instruction and some have even started their own league at our
Education and participation through volunteering is key to helping cautious parents become
comfortable with all disciplines of shooting sports. If a parent expresses concern, rather than
being dismissive or flippant, invite them in to be a part of the program. You will be surprised
how inclusion can improve and grow your program, change the dynamics of your club and,
ultimately, solidify the future of shooting sports.
My challenge to you is to encourage women to step forward, ask them to become coaches, and
have our coaching teams reflect the same, changing demographic of our shooters and everyday
life. It’s a good thing.
Sally Stevens
Working on her Masters in Sports Psych and is a mom/step-mom to eight kids, nine grandkids. 
She is a NRA Shotgun Coach, Level II and a member of the NRA National Shotgun Coach
Development Staff.  She coaches both competitive and youth programs, mentors youth and
women coaches. She is a Board Member of the Minnesota Trapshooting Association. She
founded and runs a nonprofit for youth competitive shooting in Minnesota. She has won the 2009
Minnesota State Ladies Handicap Championship, 2011 Heartland Grand Lady Singles
Championship, 2012 Ohio Lady Handicap Championship, Captain of the 2014 Minnesota Lady
All-State Team (been on the team for six years straight, twice as captain). And co-head coach of
the 2014 Minnesota State High School League Clay Target Champions.

(Posted by request)