The sun was beginning its descent behind the mountains to the West as we made that long drive up the hill going North on Decatur. The nearly 80-degree day was giving way to dusk and the cooler temperatures of a springtime evening in Las Vegas. As we climbed the road to the Clark County Shooting Complex, the air grew even cooler. We were excited and optimistic about what the evening had in store for us. Months of preparation for the ladies of the Nevada Firearms Coalition was about to pay off. The ladies who volunteered were preparing to host the inaugural Annie Oakley Shooting event. Among them was my friend Megan, a former “student” of mine who has shown remarkable progress in marksmanship and safety during our semi-regular range trips. When she was first told about this program, she volunteered to take the RSO class without hesitation for the sole purpose of volunteering with this program.
After many meetings, training sessions, dry runs and NRA Range Safety Officer classes, everyone was going to put their training and knowledge to good use. The Annie Oakley program is geared towards female first-time shooters, led and instructed by experienced female shooters. The belief is that women will feel more comfortable being taught by other women, coached and supported along the way by other women. No scoffing men allowed. Girls only.
We approached the gate to the Shooting Complex and were greeted by…a man? Yes, there were some of us male volunteers (your author also carries the dreaded Y Chromosome) but we were purely in place for logistical support. Directing traffic and greeting people. Collecting liability waivers. Cleaning up the classroom. The bread and butter of the program, the classroom instruction and coaching on the range, is handled by the ladies. After a brief exchange, we continued the drive up the hill, passing several other male volunteers directing traffic.
We arrived at the Hunter Safety Education building at the end of the road and were amazed to see several dozen cars already there and a line forming outside the building. My eyes widened as I realized that there were a whole lot of people interested in this program. I couldn’t believe there were so many people there already, since the event wasn’t scheduled to start for another hour! We parked and went to work. I assumed my post in the parking lot directing traffic. Over the course of the next 30 minutes I watched a steady stream of cars follow the same road I had just traveled. The parking lot was full and people began parking along the side of the road, in the gravel, double parking, triple parking, it didn’t matter. With a half an hour to go before the program would begin, the line was already wrapped around the building. The classroom filled to capacity and disappointed prospective students were turned away to return for another session an hour later or on another day. Still another 15 minutes to go before class started and it was already filled to capacity.
I spent the next hour apologizing to people for the class being full and encouraging them to stay for the next classroom session. I answered a myriad of questions from “When is the program held again?” (Every Tuesday night) to “How do I get a CCW permit?” Once the traffic situation died down, I moved inside to help check people in for the second classroom session. I was amazed yet again to see that the line for the second class was just as long as the first class. We went to work collecting waivers and handing out the punch card for the ammo. The first class exited and made their way down to the range as the classroom filled with our second group of eager ladies ready to learn to shoot.
I stood in the doorway of the classroom and listened to the instructors, Sandy and Alex, as they went through the basics. The cardinal rules of gun safety. Dominant eye and sight picture. Loading a magazine. Everything you would expect from a basic pistol class. I looked around the classroom and noticed the many different demographics represented. All age groups, daughters under 18, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends. Different races, different cultures and no doubt different backgrounds and life experiences. They all came together for a common purpose and were eager to learn.
I moved outside to do some paperwork and get some fresh air. While sitting at one of the picnic tables outside, I could hear the familiar popping sound of .22 handguns coming from the range. I looked over towards the bright lights on the range and could see people on the firing line. The first group had taken the range and was well on their way to learning how to shoot safely.
Disappointingly, there was little coverage by our local media. Carla Wade from KTNV Channel 13 News was the only reporter I’m aware of who came to the classroom to cover the event. She gave impressive and positive coverage of the program, which aired during the 11pm news the same night. The story and video can be found at their website.
|Courtesy: T. Fredkin, Facebook|
The Annie Oakley Women's Shooting Program is for women only (sorry dudes) and is a free program provided by the Nevada Firearms Coalition Foundation for women who would like to learn how to shoot and handle guns safely. No registration is required. Eye and ear protection (shooting glasses and ear muffs/plugs) is available for a nominal fee.
The program is held each Tuesday night 7-9 PM at the Clark County Shooting Complex (Rifle/Pistol Center), 11357 N. Decatur Blvd. Las Vegas, NV.
Contact leader Jeannette via email