Wife Leaves Husband
For Gunsite

Defensive Handgun Training For Women

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During her class at Gunsite, Drema and the other students were exposed to various drills to help them develop their defensive handguns skills and to help them establish confidence in their new-found abilities.

Earth is a dangerous place. When I was younger, I never really thought of our planet that way. Sure, I knew that many years ago life was hard. Actually, it wasn’t all that long ago; in the 1700s my ancestors were frequently fighting Shawnee Indians in their back yard. But after 1900, the only real dangers to mankind were bad guys. I’m not sure if I ever laid eyes on a real bad guy until after I became a cop.

It took less than a year for me to realize bad guys are everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there are a lot of bad people, just that you might run into one at anytime or anywhere, no matter where you live. Bad guys and bad girls are different from regular folk. They care only about themselves and they have no regard for the law. The only way to perpetuate control over a bad guy is through force or fear.

For the entire time I was a police officer, I tried to convince my wife it was important for her to be armed. After all, I was concerned about her safety and the safety of our children. My wife never bought into my argument. There were primarily two reasons for this. She, like most law-abiding, normal people, had never seen the dark side. She did not know that she might encounter a mindless creep at any moment. Secondly, she was intimidated by guns. She never told me this, partially I assume, because she knew how much a part of my life they were.


Richard’s sister (left) and wife Drema (right), along with the Gunsite instructors for the Ladies Pistol Class they attended. (Middle, from left to right; Audrey Glemba, Il Ling New and Jane-Anne Smimizu.)

Sister Sam

It was a different matter altogether with my sister. Like me, she grew up in a home where hunting and guns were part of our culture. She has owned a handgun for a long time. However, she’d never really learned how to use it for protection. She could have asked me for assistance. After all, I’ve spent a good deal of time as a civilian, military and police firearms instructor. I’m guessing she didn’t because, like with most siblings, there’s a natural psychological barrier when it comes to things like that.

I’m sharing all this with you because I think my wife and sister are a lot like many other women. They are possibly afraid of guns, afraid of asking someone to help them learn about guns and how to shoot them. And maybe, because of our modern, politically correct culture, they may think they will be seen as a devil if they own a gun of any kind.

If you’re a man, you need to understand if there’s a woman in your life whom you have an emotional connection with — this could be a friend, relative or lover — you are in a bad place when it comes to schooling them on something that can be such a sensitive subject. The student/teacher relationship is a delicate one. It’s a relationship best driven by a professional on the instructor side, and where there is no emotional connection between the participants.

If you’re a woman, it’s critical you understand you’re no different than a man when it comes to protecting yourself or any of your loved ones. If the situation ever arises, I hope I’m there to protect the ladies in my life. The reality is, I can’t trust anyone else — including the police — with the job, and I can’t be with them all the time. I’m betting the men in your lives feel the same.

The best solution for us all is women who can protect themselves, their family and their home. In truth, in a deadly encounter where I’m with my wife or sister, it’s likely the bad guy(s) might try to take me out first, suspecting I’m the one who may be armed or the one who will be the barrier between them and what they want. When both spouses are armed, this further limits the opportunity for bad guys to succeed.

There are three hurdles a woman must clear before comfortably and competently carrying a handgun for personal protection. They need to learn how to handle and shoot a handgun, they need to select a proper handgun and finally, they need to decide upon a carry method. These are the same hurdles a man must jump, but because few men and fewer firearms schools truly understand how women jump hurdles, there are not many places or people properly equipped to help them.

Women are often looked upon as easy prey by bad guys because they are not commonly armed. You would never guess it but both of these ladies are carrying handguns in their stylish Galco Holster Handbags.


This is where a place like Gunsite comes in. They provide all levels of handgun instruction but they have broken their programs of instruction down into segments that can sometimes be segregated by sex. This is important because it lets women learn alongside other women, and takes the macho-man element out of the equation. The women in attendance don’t have to worry about over-bearing chauvinistic male students or instructors. Pardon the comparison, but the class becomes somewhat of an extended ladies night out. Or put another way — fun.

Once my wife, Drema, experienced Gunsite first hand, she understood why I have been there nine times — and she knew she could go there and feel comfortable and learn a skill that in the past had intimidated her. A skill that just might save her life or the life of a loved one.

Drema packed up her gear and left me to tend the kids for several days. She even took my sister with her. I met them both in Prescott after their last day of class, on my way to another Gunsite experience. They were both smiling and it seemed to me, a bit more confident. Gunsite is for girls too.

Now, at least once a month, Drema asks me to watch the kids and she steps out to our range to shoot. On her own! She is currently looking for a carry gun that suits her lifestyle, but is still practicing with both of the Kimbers she took to Gunsite. I couldn’t be happier and have never felt better about Drema’s and our children’s safety. The few days I played Mr. Mom were worth it, and I suggest that any woman interested in learning how to shoot should follow my wife’s lead. If you guys are not encouraging it, shame on you for being so damn selfish!

women shooting

women shooting

Women should not be intimidated by handguns. They have two hands, 10 fingers and two eyes just like men. Some would argue they have twice the brain. With a single Gunsite class, Drema went from being intimidated by handguns to being able to get head shots with a compact 1911 in 9mm. With a range at our home, Drema now makes time to practice at least once each month. It helps her keep her skills sharp and she finds it enjoyable too.

woman shooting


By Drema Mann

I don’t like to shoot. At least that’s what I thought when my husband asked me if I wanted to go to Gunsite Academy with him for an industry shooting seminar. It didn’t take long after we arrived for me to feel like a fish out of water. What happened next surprised everyone; I liked it. I liked it a lot! In the course of two days, I went from being afraid of guns to asking not if, but when I could take the Ladies Pistol Class at Gunsite. Everything, from the instructors to the setting, made me feel comfortable. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

A year later I left my husband, our three kids and the stress of work for Gunsite and my first real class. I was nervous and excited. When I arrived, I was amazed at the diversity of women in attendance. Women in their 20s and others in their 60s from all walks of life, were there to all learn the same thing — how to use a handgun for self-protection.

The instructors, Il Ling, Audrey and Jane-Anne, were all terrific. They patiently answered all questions thrown at them and took the time to offer help where and when it was needed. They also gave each of us praise for our accomplishments. I went from being nervous and unsure of myself, to walking with a slight swagger, and feeling like I could use a handgun to take care of myself if I ever had to. I’m not too bad of a shot either; at least that’s what my instructors said!

When I met Richard after the last day of class, he asked me how I liked it. I told him I was confident that if I had to, I could shoot-to-kill anyone threatening to harm our family, no problem. He just looked at me and said, “That wasn’t the answer I was expecting, but it’s the best answer I could have heard.” I surprised him again when I asked about other courses I could take at Gunsite. And even more so, I think, when I told him that I was interested in attending a few shooting matches as a fun way to practice.

So, I guess I really wasn’t wrong, I don’t like shooting. I love it!

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