MANSFIELD, Pa. — With the ever present dangers in our world today, some women find that they feel safer and empowered when they know how to use a gun.
“We don’t call them firearms or weapons. We call them guns,” said Co-Chairman Marilyn Jones of the Tioga County, Pa. chapter of the Well Armed Woman Shooting organization.
The local chapter, which meets monthly, is open to any women over the age of 18 both in Pennsylvania and New York. The Tioga County chapter is not quite a year old and currently has around 22 members.
The purpose of the chapter, according to Jones, is to educate, empower and teach women how to safely use a gun in a safe environment.
“Many woman don’t feel safe with the way the world is today, especially if they live in rural areas. You never know what is going to happen and women want to be able to protect themselves if they need to, because they are alone or their husbands are getting older or they’re concerned about someone breaking into their home to steal (prescription) drugs,” Jones said. She added that the Well Armed Womans Shooting Chapter is not a political organization in any way and that the group obeys all gun laws.
There are women from their 20s to their 70s in the Tioga Chapter. Jones said the most popular guns among the women is a 9 mm semi automatic and a 38 revolver.
The TWAW works on the premise that the world of firearms can be intimidating for a woman because of masculine jargon, training styles and resources. Jones said that at the TWAW meetings the instructors are women.
“We provide women with a safe and comfortable environment where they can gather, learn, train and discuss issues important to women as gun owners,” said Jones, who is one of the trainers who help women learn how to fire and use a gun properly and in accordance with local laws.
Co-Chairman of the Tioga Chapter of the TWAW, Pat Butts, said it is just plain fun to shoot and be with other women who are interested in shooting. According to her, there is a lot of camaraderie within the group.
Not only do the women learn how to handle a gun at the monthly meetings, there are also programs and field trips.
Programs include information on local laws regarding fire arms, self defense, owning a gun with children in the home, concealed carry and more. The club’s most recent training was “Refuse to Be A Victim,” which informed participants how to make on the spot decisions when they find themselves in a dangerous situation such as in a restaurant when a gunman attacks. It included information on mental preparedness; the psychology of criminals; home, automotive, travel, physical, cyber security and personal protection.
Field trips take them to other shooting ranges and to the National Range and Armory in Williamsport, Pa. where they can not only purchase a gun, but also try shooting different types and models of firearms.
“Any woman who is 18 years of age and older from any county or state is welcome to join our chapter,” said Jones. “Membership is not limited to women who live in Tioga County. Those who join can be a beginner or novice with absolutely no experience in handling a gun, to those who are skilled and experienced shooters.”
She also explained that women coming from New York state who do not have a gun or a permit to carry a gun across state lines will be able to borrow a gun from the club with which to train.
The annual membership fee is only $50 per year. Women are invited to attend their first meeting with no obligation. Membership benefits include discounts both locally and nationally, special pricing, insurance, a hat, training DVD and discounts on TWAW merchandise.
The Well Armed Woman Shooting organization was started by Carrie Lightfoot and since its start it has become the largest and most trusted women’s concealed carry resource in the USA. It is a 501(c)3 non profit organization with its headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. There are 372 chapters with close to 11,000 members. The closest New York chapters are in Ontario and Niagara Falls.
The Tioga chapter meets regularly on the third Thursday of the month but the March meeting will be at 6 p.m. on March 14 at Mill Cove Park located just a few miles north of Mansfield, Pa. about an hour’s drive from Allegany County. Included in the meeting will be a training, during which range commands and range and shooting safety rules will be reviewed.
Women who don’t own a firearm and want more information before making a purchase or about joining the chapter are welcome to contact Jones at 570-549-2794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two field trips planned for the upcoming months, the first is Women On Target, a day where women will be able to try out different kinds of guns and rifles, such as a muzzleloader and shotgun and weapons such as bows and arrows. They are also planning a visit to the Women Historical Museum in Seneca Falls.