BY KELLY URBAN
This organization is all about educating, equipping and empowering women.
A Johnstown chapter of The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters (TWAW) was recently formed, and it’s providing opportunitiesforwomen to be introduced to issues important to women shooters, to learn safe gun handling skills and to train together.
“The Well Armed Woman was started back in 2014 by Carrie Lightfoot, who saw a need for women to learn how to protect themselves but were uncomfortable learning from men,” said Richland resident Kate Beckner, a chapter organizer.
“This was her way of starting something where they could learn from other women. Women learn better from women, and they feel more comfortablearound other women,especially in this industry.”
Beckner said that the idea of starting the Johnstown chapter came out of a class she took from TWAW Pennsylvania leader Kelly Pidgeon at the premises of the group’s Indiana County chapter.
“She had been working here in Johnstown and mentioned about starting a chapter here because she knew there wasan interest,” Beckner said.
“After taking her class, I contemplated it for a couple months, and I finally jumped in and decided to do it.”
Plans began in January to get the chapter up and running, and organizers held the first meeting in May.
“We have about 20 members right now,” Beckner said.
“It’s been very positive, and we actually have five new members since our meeting last month. Women are going out and inviting their friends to come.”
The chapter is open to all women 21 years of age or older who can legally possess firearms. It meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Laurel Rod and Gun Club, 2046 Mineral Point Road, Mineral Point.
“It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not. We welcome everyone who wants to learn,” said New Germany residentCrystal Long, a chapter organizer.
“They don’t have to have a firearm the first time they come to visit us. We walk them through getting comfortable with the firearm once they’re registered.”
The first part of each meeting is an informational session during which guest speakers deliver lectures on topics such as concealed carry laws in Pennsylvania, gun maintenance and safety and the Stop the Bleed program.
The second half of the meeting is spent on the shooting range learning and practicing handling skills. Firearms must be pistols or revolvers.
“It’s anything that they can conceal carry for their own protection,” Beckner said.
“ Typically, it’s a 9 millimeteror a.22.” Annual chapter membership dues are $50 each, according to chapter organizers. Paymentof dues offers members local and national discounts, a chapter hat and member kit and is used to cover chapter expenses, insurance and events.
As the Johnstown chapter expands, its organizers saytheir plan is to incorporate special and hosting events into its offers and to have a presence at similar types of gatherings held elsewhere in the region.
“Women are the fastest- growing component in this area in firearm ownership, so that’s why there is such a need for this,” Long said. For more information on the Johnstown chapter, email Beckner or Long at twawjohnstownpa@ gmail.com. Information on the TWAW organization can be found at www.twawshootingchapters.
Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @Kelly-Urban25.
Crystal Long (left) and Kate Beckner,organizers of the Johnstown chapter of The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters, pose on July 12 with their firearms at the Laurel Rod and Gun Club in Mineral Point.
JOHNRUCOSKY/THETRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT“It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not. We welcome everyone who wants to learn.”
CRYSTAL LONG, ORGANIZER, JOHNSTOWN CHAPTER OF THE WELL ARMED WOMAN
“I contemplated it for a couple months, and I finally jumped in and decided to do it.”
KATE BECKNER, ORGANIZER, JOHNSTOWN CHAPTER OF THE WELL ARMED WOMAN
“This was (Carrie Lightfoot’s) way of starting something where they could learn from other women. Women learn better from women, and they feel more comfortable around other women, especially in this industry.”