More than 30 women of all ages, skill levels and a wide variety of motivations, gathered together on Saturday not just to learn how to be well-armed but equally as well-informed.
The Warren County Chapter of The Well-Armed Woman met Saturday at the Kalbfus Rod and Gun Club on Chapman Dam Road in Clarendon.
Beth Tenney, a firearm instructor who is a member of both the club and chapter, was thrilled with the turnout and the new faces she saw.
Tenney and her “assistant,” husband Dave, also a firearm instructor, welcomed Saturday’s group.
Tenney explained that the local chapter is part of a nationwide membership aimed at educating, equipping, and empowering women who own firearms.
Before anyone stepped outside to actually shoot a gun, Dave reminded the group of three crucial rules to the proper use of a firearm — keep it pointed in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger when you’re not shooting, and don’t load the weapon until you’re ready to use it.
Once the group hit the shooting range, Beth reminded the group that anyone can call out “cease fire” if necessary.
“I was up here once and saw a bear run across,” she said. “Anything can happen.”
As everyone donned their ear and eye protection, women lined up, typically with the left hand under the right, gripped their weapon of choice, and took aim at various circular points on paper zombie targets.
Some guns had a bit more kick and empty shells pelted the floor as experienced and not-so-experienced shooters tested their skills.
Kim Anderson has been around firearms a long time, but is fairly new to firing a pistol.
“My family is into muzzleloaders,” Anderson said.
That aside, she was quite pleased with the holes she made in the paper zombie. She attributes her improving skill to being involved in the local chapter.
“You learn a safe way to handle yourself and you get more comfortable handling a weapon,” she said. “You never stop learning.”
Julie Wolfgang also did well hitting her target, despite a lack of shooting time.
“I’ve been a member of the chapter since it started but this is just the second time I got to shoot,” Wolfgang said. “I was nervous, but I got eight out of 10 shots. I’m pretty happy.”
The gathering provided more than just a chance to learn how to use a weapon, it gave those in attendance a chance to hear from an expert as to when you should and should not use a weapon.
Warren County District Attorney Rob Greene gave the group a little personal history and background and then got into some scenarios of when you should and should not use a gun. While every situation is different, Greene cautioned that a weapon should not be fired unless there is a threat of imminent danger to yourself or others.
Several women in attendance admitted that the potential for danger motivated their purchase of a firearm and their interest in the local chapter.
Patty Mowery was concerned that she would be the only one to be alerted if an intruder came into her house.
“When my husband takes out his hearing aids at night he can’t hear anything,” Mowery said. “That’s one of the reasons I got a gun.”
She and her husband were also concerned about how quickly she could access that gun if she needed to.
“I wear a belly-band holster all the time,” she said.
Brenda Lauffenburger purchased her first firearm after she heard about a church shooting in Texas.
A mass shooting occurred at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas in Nov., 2017. The gunman, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of nearby New Braunfels, killed 26 and injured 20 others. He was shot twice by a male civilian as he exited the church.
“Churches are soft targets,” Lauffenburger said. “I take my gun to church.”
“All those people in Texas had no way to defend themselves,” she said. “People think that church-goers won’t fight.”
“I’m serious about this. I’ve thought about whether I could shoot someone,”she said. “But if my grandchildren were threatened, I’d protect them.”