Women take to Jacksonville gun range to learn defense
At a Westside gun club, women learn the ins and outs of armed defense.
Posted: September 12, 2010 - 1:16am
WILL DICKEY/The Times-Union
By Bridget Murphy
Ten ladies stood in a row, pistols poised to open fire.
"Wait a minute," said 64-year-old Anita Ray. "There goes another butterfly. Don't shoot yet!"
Words probably never uttered before at Gateway Rifle & Pistol Club on Jacksonville's Westside. But it's not every day more than 100 women are on the premises.
The smells of gunpowder and perfume wafted in the wind Saturday as club members hosted a females-only event to promote gun safety and personal protection. Event organizer Arvil Budd said more than half of the participants were new shooters, including a bunch of ladies who never had touched a gun in their lives.
Photos: Women's Field Day
From saleswomen and nurses, to government workers and grandmas, women from all walks of life assumed shooting positions and let 'er rip with several different kinds of guns.
Club member Brenda Aldridge, 53, was one of the instructors in the bench-rest rifle shooting area. She said she'd love to see ladies on the range more often. Aldridge took up her shooting hobby two years ago and competes these days.
"The best thing to do is beat a man," she said with a smile.
Saturday's participants also heard Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Sgt. Barbara Weber speak about street smarts and defensive tactics. Pay attention to the hair on the back of your neck and the drop in your stomach, she said.
More of her tips for fending off low-lifes:
Keep your shoulders back. Make eye contact. Have your head on a swivel. Show signs of strength and defiance.
"My mom had her purse snatched twice," Weber shared with the audience.
Since then, her mom started sporting a fanny pack and something else.
"I got her a little snub-nosed .38," the sergeant said.
The feel of the firearms inspired some of the women to consider getting guns of their own. Baptist Medical Center nurse Cheryl Saddler wasn't sure what to expect when she pulled the trigger for the first time. Then she felt a .22-caliber handgun's hop in her hands. And she was hooked.
"OK, let's do it again," the 37-year-old was thinking. "And again. And again."
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