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Monthly Archives: February 2014

The “Flash Bang” Holster- for the Glock 42

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

This post is meant to provide a very brief review of the “Flash Bang” holster. There are a multitude of reviews and videos on this innovative  holster and I’ll provide a few links at the end of this entry.

A previous post happily shared my purchase of the new “baby Glock” – the Glock 42, chambered in .380.  I started carrying my new “baby” in a pocket holster that I kept in a zippered pocket of my coat or in my purse.  While that allowed me to carry the firearm “with” me, it didn’t provide a method of carrying it “on” me, which is the preferred method for self defense.

The “Flash Bang” is a molded kydex holster, shown here with the longest of the snap on suede straps that attach at the midpoint of the bra, between the cups.  The holster cradles the G42 and covers the trigger.

The gun “snaps” in place and then tucks up under the underwire of your bra.

To draw the gun, you grasp the handle and pull down quickly to release it.untitled

I changed out the suede strap (shortest of the three) that came with the holster, and the directions are serious when they warn you to watch for “small parts” as you do this.  Mission accomplished, I then attached the holster by snapping the VERY strong one way snap onto my bra, without a gun in it at first, just to get the feel of it.

Next I put the gun in the holster, you have to put it in the holster with a bit of “authority” for it to snap in.  For this initial test I did it without the magazine installed-  which I wouldn’t advise you to try with this model.  There are some “sharp-ish” edges at the base of the grip that will not feel comfortable, particularly while sitting. After I put in an empty magazine it immediately felt better!

My final stage of  “fitting” was with a fully loaded magazine (although not brave enough to have one in the chamber at this point! ). The added weight  pulled down a bit on the bra, and I made some adjustments.  I found it fit my frame a little better to “tweak” it so the muzzle pointed a little down.

I wore the Flash Bang  for about two hours that first day, and it was pretty comfortable. Drawing the gun was easy to learn, reholstering took a bit more fiddling with but eventually I got the “hang” of it (pun intended!)

The second day I wore it under a thin pullover shirt, and it was well concealed. You would have to know that it was there and be looking for it. Within a very short amount of time, I mostly forgot it was there.

The Holster “Cozy”

The “mature woman” in me found some things a little uncomfortable. Kydex is a hard material, and between my aging and thinning skin and the effects of gravity “at work” on my anatomy, there were a few “pinch spots” that I would feel occasionally while wearing it.G42 w cozy

I decided what was needed was a “holster cozy.”  My husband -the creative master- jumped on that project before I even had a chance to think about materials for it, and literally within minutes presented me with a “cozy” from an old sock.

He was ready to permanently attach it to the Kydex holster, and I was appalled.

Another “fascinating” experience of getting to be an old woman are “hot flashes.” The placement of this holster is in an area that, pardon me, can on occasion get pretty “damp.” Whatever was used for the “cozy” had better be able to be thrown in the washer!

holster cozyThis “cozy” did improve the comfort of the holster, and is completely washable.

Here is the “cozy” laid out flat. Any soft, absorbent, washable material would do, and I am sure the truly crafty could add embellishments and “prettify” it, but it works for me! Just be sure that you leave the bottom opening of the holster clear so you don’t get it tangled up when holstering/ drawing your gun!

I really like the Flash Bang holster, and it is a GREAT way to carry my “baby.”

A few links for reviews: pro and con !

http://womenandguns.org/2012/02/09/flash-bang-holster-review/

http://www.usacarry.com/flashbang-bra-holster-review/

http://www.gunsandlace.com/pageFlashBangHolsterReview

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Holsters and Accessories

 

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The Well Armed Woman – “The Resource For The Woman Gun Owner”

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

Awhile ago I discovered the website “The Well Armed Woman.”  I would encourage any woman who owns, or is thinking of owning a firearm, to check this site out. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or other sites where TWAW has a presence, be sure to FOLLOW and LIKE them!  I enjoy the many articles and videos brought right to my Facebook page. They help keep me informed and entertained!

Part of the problem the mature woman can face in getting started in shooting is “HOW” to begin. Women learn best in a safe, friendly environment, where they can share and ask questions freely. Finding like minded “sisters” and forming friendships is a very important element to women of all ages, and shooting is no longer only a male dominated “sport” and pursuit.   Peruse this site and I guarantee you will get a lot of useful and thought provoking information, make new friends and no longer feel alone in your quest for becoming a “a well armed woman” yourself.

Here is a link to their main website:

http://www.thewellarmedwoman.com/

Carrie Lightfoot started this bold endeavor and is a helpful, friendly, approachable woman with practical experience and information to share.  She is an NRA Certified Basic Pistol and NRA Certified Personal Protection in the Home Instructor and here is a quote from her ABOUT page to give you an idea of her goal and what her site is all about:

“I’ll introduce you to the ins and outs of armed self-defense, gun ownership, gun safety, shooting skills and products for women shooters. We’ll discuss everything from permits to holsters and we’ll do it in a candid and concise manner. I created The Well Armed Woman, LLC to be a complete resource without fluff or frills for women gun owners of all ages…”

Carrie and her staff are doing just that.  In addition during the last couple of years, The Well Armed Woman has developed over 161 chapters in 41 states (as of this posting), where women can come together in their community and learn and shoot.  Check out the site and see what opportunities there are to grow in your abilities and knowledge. If there is not a chapter near you, contact them and they can help you to start a chapter right where you live.

The Well Armed Woman (TWAW)  also is a great resource for holsters and accessories designed to be comfortable and usable for women. I will be sharing my thoughts and experience on my recently purchased “Flash Bang” holster in an upcoming post.

I can’t say enough positive things about this amazing resource.  Please check it out soon if you have an interest in firearms.

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

 

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Recognizing and Overcoming my own FEAR: Firearms

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

This post is a personal recounting of my own experience in facing and overcoming fear(s) of firearms. It is written from my (mature woman’s) viewpoint and experience, and gives a glimpse at how I have, and continue to, go through the process of recognizing what it is I fear, what “ghosts” from my past influence my approach to firearms, and the need for continuing examination of new fears arising, and continuing my education about firearms.

The experience with firearms and learning targeting skills for the woman of my generation begins in a different manner than that of the typical American kids of today. When we were children, the availability of games to learn targeting skills was limited pretty much to throwing balls, darts, playing pool and pinball, and maybe shooting a small bow and arrow or ping pong ball launcher.

During the 50s and 60s, girls who participated or hung around those activities were mostly”tomboys” or were there to be around a “special” guy, or guys.  My experience is a mixture of both “tomboy” and “girlie girl” – I was a middle child with two brothers who REALLY liked anything that went boom, and I liked hanging around those guys I found to be “special” as well.

Today’s kids have so many targeting specific “games” and “equipment” available –  air rifles, paintball, laser guns and rifles, high powered water guns and cannons, along with a slew of video and computer games, from small screens to large screens, from handhelds and phones to large screen Wii that involves using the muscles along with targeting skills.

However, it has been my experience personally and from being around mature women in the classes, that dedication to learning to aim and shoot is often more indicative of becoming a good or great shooter than simple exposure to targeting sports earlier in life. The “fear factor” might be slightly more prevalent in the “late learner”, but we don’t mind, as a group, taking the time to master a new skill.  We didn’t grow up with “instant gratification” being one of the hallmarks of our lives.

So, on to a brief summary of  my acquaintance and types of fears I have experienced with various firearms:

22 Rifles

I have shared that I came from a military family. My dad was a rifle instructor, and shooting rifles was part of my youth. Fear did not play much of a role in shooting the 22 rifle mostly because my dad taught me well and made me feel safe, and I knew he would make sure the environment of the range would also be safe for me and all of “his kids.”

I was given appropriate safety instruction, knew how to load, unload and check any of the target rifles I picked up to make sure it was “clear,” always pointed it in a safe direction and never played around with it. It was only to be shot at a range. Period. If I saw anyone misusing a 22 rifle, I was taught to move to cover, and report them immediately to an authority.

Other than occasional target practice, I haven’t had an occasion to shoot  a 22 rifle in many years.

Shotguns

As an adult, I made the transition to a shotgun fairly seamlessly, and admit to liking the 20 gauge over the 12 gauge because  the “punch” from the 12 gauge recoil can be painful! However, I have learned to take the “beating” if I am presented with a chance at high flying ducks and geese because the effective range of the 12 gauge is much longer than the 20 gauge!

The shotguns I used have a regulation-limited three shells loaded while hunting, and the range of effectivity, even with higher rated loads doesn’t exceed much past 50 yards.  Initially, this gave me a  “feeling” that shotguns are pretty “safe” and controllable. I didn’t experience “Primitive” fear when shooting them, other than flinching when anticipating the recoil and knowing I would sport a bruise if I didn’t hold the shotgun up against my shoulder correctly.

My early training with the 22 rifle gave me a good foundation in gun safety, but the longer I  hunted ducks, geese and grouse, the more impact stories about people accidentally shooting and being shot by hunting partners had on me. Carrying around a loaded shotgun became very scary to me for awhile.

Truth is, my early feelings of comfort about 22 rifles and shotguns was not based on logic.  I  had generalized my feeling of “safety” from the highly controlled and safe environment I had experienced with my dad, and “spread it” to other rifles and then shotguns in general. But without proper education in how to handle a firearm in a field situation, fear crept in.  A fearful person handling a firearm is an accident waiting to happen.

Both the 22 rifle and shotguns are capable of being lethal. The shotgun has enormous stopping power at a short range, is fairly simple to work, and especially with a longer barrel, can be most effective when aimed properly.

My ignorance, while initially blissful, was problematic. I studied about various pellet composition, shapes, sizes, shell lengths, powder charges, spread of the pellets and so on. By seeking education and gaining experience in the safe way to carry and work the shotgun,  I have developed more of an understanding and proficiency, and thereby lessened my fear of being out in the field with a shotgun.

High Powered Hunting Rifles

I have already shared that a large dose of Primitive Fear arose in me the first time and for many subsequent times I handled and shot a high power rifle. They are louder, have a large recoil, and are a very serious firearm to shoot.

I had no experience shooting high powered rifles.  Just carrying an unloaded one around made me very nervous and fearful, although I put on the “brave face.” Off I  went to “sight in the rifle” that first year, and  I am fairly certain my husband was unaware that the shotgun hunting we had done did not translate into deer hunting with any sense of comfort for me.

One problem I encountered was how we sighted in the rifles with just a few rounds. That was mostly because with a scope I found it very easy to be on target. I never felt it was “fun” to shoot these powerful firearms, so shooting more than five rounds was unusual as time progressed. Then off to the field we’d go. Successful hunting usually meant one round to one deer that would be brought home, all seemed well. But I did not take the time to learn enough to feel safe and proficient in their handling until many years down the road.

It has only been the last few years that I have actually begun to feel that I am handling these rifles safely, and have become more comfortable as I have listened and learned  and  begun to develop a sense of proficiency

Handguns

For me, handguns are another issue entirely.  I had zero experience with them until I was in my 20s, when, as I shared – I was held up at gun point on two separate occasions while working a night job at a service station.

Up until that point I had only heard negative things about “guns” – accidental shootings, gang related “drive bys” and the dark and seamy side guns played in the news and the movies. The “good guys” and “cowboys” from the past century all had fabulous training in weapons of all kinds, and those in that category included the police and soldiers.

I “knew” that handguns were dangerous and unpredictable. I also knew one shot usually led to instant death. You can’t “recall” a bullet once it is fired.  And so on. Society did not want people like me to gain more understanding. Guns were to be avoided. They were an instrument used to dominate, intimidate, and unless in the hands of the police or military, good only for killing other human beings.

Then in my 30s, a Taurus 9mm was put in my hands by my ex – without any instruction.  I was expected to shoot it accurately by the “ex” who was a correctional officer, and had been through academy training, I was pretty much “scared stiff.”  I failed miserably at hitting the target and hated every minute of it. I did learn how to clean it after shooting, so the exercise was not totally without merit. Up until the day we divorced I never shot a handgun again.

I avoided handguns as much as possible even after I remarried – until I encountered a situation I have already shared. My husband always carried a high caliber pistol when we are out “in the wild” and I was left alone with the clear signs of moose in the immediate area. Moose inspire more anxiety to fly fishermen than bears as a general rule, and I was in a position of feeling more fear of being without appropriate protection (a gun) than the fear I had of handguns.

I have also shared that I again experienced having a bigger fear of being unprotected without  a handgun than the fear of carrying a gun when I was stranded in the icy, dark of winter years later. By that time I knew more about handguns, had overcome my fear of HANDGUNS in general, and was becoming proficient with many different pistols at the range and in classes. But I was still fearful of carrying a loaded gun with me as I went about my business in an uncontrolled or field environment. Very similar to my fear of high powered hunting rifles. My comfort zone was limited to highly controlled situations.  “Out in the World” was a different matter.

I could intellectually KNOW that I should carry a firearm for self defense, but the myriad of situations in which actually using that firearm – in defense from an animal or a human – brought a near choking sense of panic in the beginning.  It has subsided now to a lower anxiety level as I have begun to carry a loaded handgun, but I still have a long way to go.

In Summary

At the very core of overcoming FEAR has got to be the DESIRE to overcome.  Unfortunately that desire is usually driven by something that is more fearful than the original object of fear. But the desire and willingness to gain an education about the subject has got to be there.

Then comes mustering the courage to face your fears. It will come.  It’s not magical.  If you have a negative experience or societal training in your past that you must overcome you must now gain NEW experience and NEW training to accomplish your goals.

I have read that when we can’t cope with an emotion, we bury or “stuff” it safely away until at some point an event occurs that brings that emotion back to the surface. It will have the same intensity as the day we “stuffed” it, and  we’ll experience the same tinges of emotion –  the terror, horror, and fear – as the day we last encountered it.

If we are not prepared to handle and work through the emotions, we will once again bury it. Sometimes the response is to take that emotion and apply it negatively, as in prejudice, hatred, and generating even MORE fear to the point of being phobic. Sometimes we try to overcome the fear by using it to control others. When we approach it negatively, we aren’t handling the root cause of the problem.  It just adds tends to add more fuel to the emotion and perpetuates itself.

Eventually, when we are able face that fear, and take positive steps to learn the cause or how to work through the fear, we can we begin to grow past that point and the irrational fears begin to fade away. While danger is a reality and present in many parts of our lives, doors open, new thoughts and connections become available to us, and we have the opportunity to make decisions, take action and become empowered.

There are  many stories of former “anti gun” people who have become gun owners and enjoy shooting sports and have developed new feelings of confidence and more proficient at self defense. But they had to face their fear for that to happen.

I would encourage any woman who is struggling with a decision about owning and carrying a firearm to look at their past history of emotions and training and identify where Primitive Fear and Generalized Fear have taken over the role of rational examination and bring those instances to the light of day as they work their way through this very personal decision.

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in FEAR Factors

 

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“Pride and Prejudice”

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

My apologies to Jane Austen as I use her alliterative title. It just seems to fit this post.  Fear as it relates to firearms has both prideful and prejudicial elements that have fueled and help perpetuate the inflammatory nature of the topic. I am going to touch very briefly on the subject because it is part of  the social reality we live with.

I am not going to take sides or try to sway anyone’s opinion.  I believe it is a complex topic that has many possible combinations and viewpoints, but has very often been reduced to extremes and oversimplified into being “FOR” or “AGAINST.” You are either for Gun Control or for 2nd Amendment Rights. That demand to “choose” basically pits the rights and needs of an individual against the rights and needs of the society.

And because we live in a country that recognizes certain inalienable rights and the attendant responsibilities of exercising those rights with respect for others, we have the freedom to have that debate.

It is difficult if not impossible to have calm and rational discussions where people hold powerful emotionally based positions.

“Pride” comes into play as people take sides they identify with, and gain the approval and empowerment from shared positions.

“Prejudice” where dehumanization of the perceived “opponent” becomes possible, and projection of rigid and untested labels become applied without regard to what an individual or group is actually bringing”to the table.”

The heated topic of Gun Control vs. 2nd Amendment Rights often presents with the hallmarks of fear based rhetoric. I think “Primitive fear” is evoked to maintain the fervor on both sides, and “Generalized Fear” is utilized in “spreading the word.”

I recognize there is an  “elephant in the room,” and that it lurks in the back of the mind of anyone considering owning and carrying a firearm. It will temper if and how you speak with friends and acquaintances.

The societal element is also a very real factor to consider as it relates to legislation and regulations that are applied to firearms in different jurisdictions.

I am going to “park” the societal examination of the topic for the duration of my discussion of fear and firearms. Rather, I intend to look into some potential causes and effects of an individual’s fear of weapons on a personal basis, and hopefully help a person looking to make a decision to own and carry a  firearm unravel and demystify “Guns.” And that is, as I have stated before, a Process.

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2014 in FEAR Factors

 

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FEAR – a driving force

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

This post is the first in a series examining the nature of FEAR and its effect on FIREARMS – on both a societal and individual level, and I intend to develop the topic more particularly as a factor for the mature woman as we go.

This introductory post will examine “Fear” in general, and its affect in our lives. There are positive and negative elements to fear, and I am going to look at the process we experience as we transform it into learned behavior. This post is just my opinion and musings on the subject and is not meant to be go into great depths, but is more along along the lines of “food for thought.”

For the purposes of this post, I’ve broken fear down into TWO types, Primitive Fear and Generalized Fear.

PRIMITIVE FEAR

Fear is a response to a direct stimulus or a perceived threat.  When the unexpected, threatening, and unknown is first encountered, we experience a primitive  “flight” (run away),”fright” (freeze) or “fight” (engage)  reaction to that stimulus, and that is what I will refer to as primitive fear.  It is direct, immediate, and uncontrollable.

An example might be when someone jumps from hiding. Whether that person is playing or intending us harm doesn’t matter.  Our conscious thinking process is not involved in the primitive response – and it doesn’t matter if we know we are playing a game.

IT happens, and IT stimulates an immediate reaction.

That reaction makes appropriate changes in our bodies to facilitate an immediate response to the threat or perceived threat – heart rate, muscles, and chemical releases in the body and brain that can enhance, sharpen – or deaden – our focus and ability to act, think and process. It prepares us to respond with heightened senses and strength, or an overload of stimuli can cause fainting and worse.

As a species we appear to delight in engendering that primitive fear response. We joke, tease each other, play and watch games and movies that get our adrenalin going, and engage in activities that “make us feel we’re alive” with thrilling sensations that stimulate and evoke that primitive fear response.

GENERALIZED FEAR

As thinking/sentient beings, we “generalize” – which basically means we take what we have learned and apply it to similar situations where we think, or are taught or trained to think, we can expect similar results.  This is a survival trait that assures the species will continue to exist. We learn from a situation and apply it to others.

It can also be used to control others without having to actually and physically approach or threaten the individual with REAL harm. By referencing or “linking” the fear response from memory, through words, pictures, and implication, a generalization to all sorts of situations is possible.  We teach our kids this way while they are growing, and society uses and maintains that training as as a person reaches adulthood.

A very real primitive fear response can be evoked from secondary situations. As in the babysitter who lets the children watch a scary show, or tells a horror story to them just before bedtime. Thrilling and scaring the listeners with gory details and embellishments to raise the primitive fear response engenders a generalized fear that can keep the kids in bed, although it can backfire and cause the babysitter a lot of grief when the kids won’t sleep and refuse to be alone out of fear.

We are complex beings, and there are webs built from fear based training that impact our daily decision making process. This affects culture and society, and our individual lives.  We are mostly not aware of the vast majority of these foundational fears, but that’s the realm of psychologists, psycho analysts, and …writers!

Fear and Firearms

Next post will open the “hot” topic of firearms.  On both the societal and individual level, there is the need to control firearms and their use, and the need to be able to use them for defense. These needs arise from both experiential and re-enacted memory of primitive fear, and from generalized training. It is a topic that gets very complex and hard to trace back to primary reasons on “both” sides. And its affect is a driving force in our society and lives today. Emotions attached to a fear based, fear driven issue are very often intense.

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in FEAR Factors

 

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WHY do I believe I need to own and carry a gun?

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

Since I had written in an earlier post that a mature woman needs to think about the reasons why she feels a need to own or carry a gun, I thought it only right to share why I have chosen to carry. I am sure there are as many reasons for a mature woman to own or not to own, and to carry or not to carry, as there are individual women!

As I shared in my introductory post, I live and work with a husband who is in the gun leather business and is a pistol instructor. Because of that, the reasons for my decision to own and carry a gun might be expected to be very different than those of most women.

But at the core of my decision to carry and learn about and be prepared to use a gun, I believe my reasons are actually very similar to a lot of other women, particularly those living in a rural area. I didn’t come to the decision lightly, and it didn’t happen overnight. It was a process.

Here’s a brief list of things that contributed to my decision, more or less in the order of importance to me:

  1. My husband feels better if I am able to protect myself when he is not with me.
  2. There are times when I am the only one home, and while I have a couple of large dogs that provide me with a level of protection, the dogs may need me to protect them if they are outside the house.
  3. Living in a forest “urban interface” area means there are wild animals, including wolves, bear, moose, mountain lions, and dogs (abandoned or dumped as well as those allowed to run loose) and more. Should I be walking about the property, hiking in the woods, or have to leave my vehicle and walk (which has happened in the dark of winter) I am very  much in THEIR territory.
  4. In my daily driving, the roads I use are through a mountainous area with spotty cell service and there is infrequent and low traffic volume. Should I need assistance, I don’t know “who” will stop to help, and can’t count on any help being available.
  5. Along those same lines, if I encounter someone who is stranded, or walking and flagging me down, I have not felt safe stopping to give them assistance, nor can I quickly call to get help for them.
  6. There are no neighbors within “earshot” or within visibility of our house.
  7. My “day job” is in a small town, and there are volatile people ANYWHERE you live.
  8. I do sometimes travel (alone) distances from 100 to 400 miles from home each way into more populated cities and towns.
  9. I have an “unstable” ex living in the same town, who owns guns.
  10. These are “scary” times we live in.

I originally came from the west coast – living in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and then “Silicone Valley” which was a sprawling urban area, and left there in the late 1970’s. It was a different world back then, but I was robbed at gun point TWICE when I was going to school and working nights part time at a service station, and know what it feels like to be helpless without any situational control, and was fortunate to survive unharmed.

My ex and I moved to a 135 acre ranch in northeastern California to “escape” the crowding and to raise kids. That area became filled with “correctional” facilities over the years we lived there and the change was pretty dramatic. We left that for this small town located in the middle of thousands of acres of national forestland in the late 1990’s.

When we divorced, I lived in town and my neighbor happened to be the chief of police.  I felt pretty safe and didn’t feel the need to own or carry a gun. A hunting rifle served just fine.

A few years later I remarried and moved out into the “forest” with my wonderful hubby, Gary. I have been around my husband’s guns constantly, hunting, fishing, and now his gun leather business. I didn’t feel a need to carry or learn much about guns until one day we were out fly fishing and I was standing in the middle of the river in my waders. My husband, who always carries a 10mm when we’re out in the woods and the wilds, was absorbed in finding the next best place to cast, and with his long legs had soon disappeared down stream around the bend. I found myself alone.  It dawned on me that day that if he, the quintessential “mountain man” felt it prudent to carry a gun, maybe I should start to also?  I experienced the same feeling that fall while out huckleberry picking.  Within a short period of time, I got my own gun, and that’s another story!

I started strapping my gun belt on for our fishing, hunting, hiking and berry picking  excursions. Two years ago we had an extremely icy winter. By now I had been driving in snow and ice for over 25 years without incident, but that year I ran off the road on two separate occasions during dangerous ice conditions. It was dark and right around the freezing point. In the first incident, it took me almost an hour to walk the 3/4 mile back uphill to our home along the secondary road and our long steep drive. I was followed in the dark by a now-evicted-neighbor’s “pack” of dogs who were growling and snarling at me until I was well passed her place.  I felt defenseless and afraid, and was shaking with more than the cold when I got home.

Up until then I believe I had relied on the “umbrella” affect of my husband being there, my dogs always around and on my own good sense and the small amount of self defense training I have learned. I believed all would be well as long as I conducted myself responsibly in this friendly small forest town.

While running off the road shook me up and laid the foundation for the eventual decision of carrying a gun with me, I didn’t make any changes that winter other than deciding that I would wait until daylight in bad conditions, and my husband sanded the road before I left for work if ice conditions again presented until that winter ended.

It’s not that I have trouble making decisions or changes, I do that readily when I face problems. But this topic is different than most. I felt vulnerable and concerned when driving in the dark and foul weather now. Looking back the hesitation was probably at least partially because the fear of carrying a loaded gun seemed almost as bad as driving in the dark and ice. I didn’t want to admit that, because I know how to shoot and use a gun, and really enjoy target shooting. But to carry one that is loaded in my daily activities and an uncontrolled environment was a leap.

So what changed in the fall? One factor was just getting older. The fragility of life is sinking in with each year as I am entering the golden, “sunset” of my time on earth!  I have always known that I can’t count anything other this moment, for me or my husband.  I know we each think and hope we have many more years together, but only God knows that.

But the primary factor last fall was the approach of another winter and feeling fearful. I made the decision to become comfortable carrying a gun with me to at least know if I was out in the severe elements I could act in self defense from critters if needed. And once I made that decision it had a freeing affect and I regained a sense of empowerment that the icy conditions had stripped from me.

I also modified my hours so I would only travel in daylight and not at all if conditions became severely icy. I had the grace of being in a semi-retirement phase, and it was practical to do so. When you choose to live outside of a town in the conditions we find ourselves in, we have to weigh the consequences.  As Gary and I get older it may be impractical to stay so far out and back in the hills. We’ll look at that, prayerfully together, at that time!

We are traveling more, and I now have more time to reflect on a changing world, and find I am reading about and listening to other people more than when I had my head down and pulling hard in the traces at work.

I’m becoming acutely aware that I am entering a time of life where I am not as strong, nor as focused or able to react with agility and strength as I once was, and I am adjusting to that.  I hear a lot about older women in particular being “soft targets” and have to admit that is a factor- not so much here at home, but when traveling.  There are nasty, ruthless, sick people out there.  Always have been, but it does seem a breakdown has occurred in our society and the numbers are increasing, or at the very least we are hearing more about when it occurs.

I don’t have a paranoid personality. I have always been self reliant and believe that I am responsible to some degree for most of what happens to me. I need to be aware of potentially unsafe situations wherever I am, and need to know how to protect myself in case I find myself in a bad situation, and how to protect others around me should the need arise.

I hope by sharing my reasons it might help you to start to examine your own. I am not in favor of owning and carrying a gun out of fear and in ignorance.  Rather, a woman should intelligently face what she is afraid of, think it through and decide if owning and carrying a gun is part of the answer in her life situation.

Expect that it will be a process. The way to overcome fear of the unknown is to examine, study and learn about the things you fear, not ignore or deny or hide from them! I am very respectful of a loaded gun, but no longer fearful of them. I believe staying in a state of fear can contribute to making more mistakes and having more accidents with ANY tool we use. A handgun is a tool, and with appropriate training and experience will come confidence.

Happy and Safe shooting  –  Peggy

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in General Discussion

 

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Getting a GRIP

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

In this post we’ll try to get a good GRIP  (I am an incurable punster!) on some hand strength and dexterity issues that the new mature woman shooter may face when handling a firearm.

HAND SIZE

I  have very small hands. My husband wears EXTRA Large Men’s gloves, and I shop in the kids section at the feed store when I need leather work gloves!  While some women are blessed – when it comes to shooting in particular – with nice sized hands, a lot of us are working with a distinctly smaller set of digits and grip.

Just wrapping my hand around some of the wood grips on some of Gary’s larger pistols is a challenge!  Particularly when it comes to larger revolvers. He’s outfitted them with grips that make it easier for his big mitts!

The new Gen 4 GLOCKs come with extra back straps to increase the grip size – which to me is a crazy idea.  There are constant reminders when handling firearms that men designed guns primarily for men. And men’s hands are normally larger than a woman’s.  Second DUH ! for this post.

HAND STRENGTH

So….  if you start with not being able to wrap your hand comfortably around the firearm, the issue of having appropriate hand strength is magnified.  I like to think of my husband trying to grip and apply pressure if the grips on his gun were proportionately larger!

That may be one of the most important considerations in finding a gun that fits you well. You can change out grips on most handguns to fit you better.  You should be able to comfortably wrap your fingers on the grip, and ideally to be able to reach the mechanical safety, external hammer, magazine ejector with one hand.

On semi-automatics, particularly on some of the shorter barrels that are popular to carry, racking the slide can also require a lot of grip and hand strength. These shorties generally use stronger springs to assist in cycling the slide/barrel that must travel a shorter distance than their longer barreled cousins. There are some techniques that can be utilized to help those with weaker grips/smaller hands to accomplish racking the slide, and that’s the topic of another post.

The strength of your grip on the gun is crucial when it comes to managing and controlling your aim while shooting. A weak grip will magnify the impact of recoil and the muzzle of the gun will jump more erratically. This makes “follow through” – which is part of maintaining a good grip following a shot and a big factor in your next shot, extremely challenging. Your hand will also tire more quickly – which cuts down on the amount of practice you want to endure, because it can also hurt! It is very possible that without an adequate grip you may also exacerbate problems you already experience with your hands, wrist and forearm.

While firing some “blow back” design lower caliber semi-automatics, I have experienced misfeeding of ammunition from the magazine in a 22lr gun due to an insufficient grip. I visualize this as the energy in the recoil is used by the gun to reload from the magazine, and that weak grip has redirected a good deal of that energy while the gun is flying around uncontrolled by the firmer grip! Not sure of the mechanical accuracy of my visualization, but I do know it’s very frustrating having the gun jam up.

“Flinching” and “anticipation” of recoil – which after you fire the first shot and realize it has quite a “bite”, often causes you to pull your shots to the left or right with subsequent shots, depending on how you react- by pushing or pulling to compensate/prevent for the expected hammering to come. Overcompensating for a weak grip by tightening your grip as you pull the trigger also can play havoc with your aim.

The amount of strength and dexterity needed to pull the trigger – both the pounds of pressure required and the distance the trigger must travel is another strength and dexterity issue for the small handed woman. This is a particular issue with the “hammerless” revolver models that are “double action only” and have a hard trigger pull. Accuracy of your shot is dependent on a good trigger pull.

Improving your hand strength

As in most of life, where there is a will, there is a way to improve hand strength. There are many exercises and aids on the market to improve hand strength and coordination.  Just “Bing”, “Google” “Ask” hand strengthening and you’ll get a ton of ideas. My son gave me a wonderful little squeeze ball that I keep next to my keyboard and work it while I am waiting for uploads and downloads! – and it doubles as a paperweight while not in my hand!

I am also a proponent of getting proper nutrition with diet and using supplements for general joint and muscle health. Make sure to tell your health professional if you go that route

HEALTH and INJURIES affecting GRIP

Arthritis, carpal tunnel, osteoporosis, are just a few challenges commonly encountered as we age. Other things that affect the ability to grip a pistol include numbness and loss of sensitivity in the fingers.  Diabetes and circulatory problems can cause numbness in the extremities. It can be very difficult to grip properly with numbed or swollen hands.

As older women, we’ve had a lot more years to accumulate injuries- particularly repetitive stress- and if we escaped immediate and strong opposition from our bodies for these insults to it, the “piper” comes to collect as we have aged. Carpal tunnel can be eased using a wrist and hand brace. Arthritis that is the result of injury to the joints is more unforgiving, but by steadily working with the mobility and flexibility that you have you can successfully overcome many of the barriers facing you.

About 40 years ago while at work at a newspaper, a freak accident resulted in an exacto knife plunging neatly through my right index finger. The nerve damage causes me to have a total loss of sensation in over half the finger, and a heightened sensation in the parts of it.  My luck – it’s my dominant shooting hand, and the dead  half is crucial to feeling the trigger!  I actually began to shoot left handed until I felt more confident with a gun, and have now more or less successfully returned to my stronger hand, and can shoot better with it now.

Modifications for Shooting

Medical science is doing wonders with restorative therapies that help to keep us active, but the primary factor is still the desire and need of the person involved.  I have seen women with significant arthritis and joint problems go through my husband’s classes, and because they felt a need to succeed in learning to shoot for self defense, they made it work. Both with modification of technique and correct fitting of the gun.

One of the guns I have used is a Beretta Bobcat, chambered in a 22lr. It is popular among a lot of people with arthritis because it has a popup feature that allows the shooter to manually load the first cartridge through an opening in the top of the slide, rather than having to rack the gun to load that first bullet.

I read an article the other day that “poo poo”-d the idea of gun manufacturers making modifications to handguns to accommodate the arthritic shooter.  The author contended that if you weren’t in good enough shape to shoot the gun as it had been built, you had no business touching the handgun.  I imagine that – as in many areas of life – time will mellow that writer’s outlook as he/she begins to experience some of the effects of added years!  (and yes, I wouldn’t mind being around to watch that!!! )

While there is obviously a point that disability should be recognized as being greater than the desire to participate in an activity like shooting, we – the aging baby boomer generation – do not accept it as an immutable rule of life. When there is a practical, safe way to accomplish that goal, we will work with that!

Happy and Safe Shooting!

— Peggy

 

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