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Guns had never been a regular part of my life until I started shooting several years ago. Sure, I’d been out with friends a few times: pistol shooting in Alaska; loading and firing a black powder rifle in a field in Oklahoma; getting nearly knocked off my young, skinny patootie by a rifle whilst shooting at cans in a big creek. The sort of things kids do when they have nothing else to do, but no serious effort at skill was being made by anyone, and no love affairs with firearms began for me. They were fun, but I didn’t care enough to pursue making them a habit.
This story has been told about a billion times, but you’ll see where I’m going with it in a minute. I fell in love with shooting when Buddy took me to the gun club with an array of rifles to try out. The World War II Finnish M-39 stole my heart with its smooth trigger pull and nothing indicating when it would finally fire, which meant no recoil anticipation and, thus, extremely satisfying shooting. I love that gun, and I knew immediately that shooting was something I had to do for the rest of my life. Next, I fell in love with a 20-year-old Sig Sauer P228 pistol that to this day is my favorite firearm and which was the turning point for me, taking me beyond an interest in the recreational shooting of other people’s guns into wanting one of my own and the training necessary to be an effective, safe shooter both on the range and in self-defense applications.
Enter Tammy and a host of her fun, wonderful classes. Girls Day Out, Between the Threat and the Bang, Airsoft, SDA, Shotgun. Gun Cleaning… Every time I took a class I found something else that I enjoyed, not the least of which was the company of other women who were learning new skills or improving old ones. Trips to the gun range with friends, the gun club with Buddy, and OPD classes became my favorite non-Mommy activities.
It got even better when Tammy asked me to develop a class for moms about how to safely keep defensive firearms in a home with children. That topic had concerned me since I’d fallen for the P228, and I’d done a lot of research and spent time developing good habits for myself, as well as teaching my children what they needed to know. Putting it in writing for a class was a challenge I was happy to undertake and has led to many encouraging moments as I’ve talked with moms who were initially very concerned with having a firearm in the home at all, much less a loaded one for defense, and have seen them leave my Firearms and Your Young Child class enthusiastically ready to apply what they’d learned in order to keep their children and homes safe.
Perhaps the greatest joy has been watching my own children develop a love of shooting. Missy Moo, Legolas, and Bitsy Boo have now all been to the gun club at least a few times to shoot .22 youth rifles, and all of them approach it with excitement and joy. Their sweet, happy faces when they hear the “plink” of a metal target hit, their “races” to see who can clear his or her side of a target tree full of chickens first, the speed and proficiency with which they load, unload, and reload, the attention they give to safety, and the sense of camaraderie and cooperation between them (which, let’s be honest, doesn’t always exist off the range) while they shoot is manna from heaven. We can blow through .22LR ammo like candy at kindergarten Halloween party and spend hours shooting having a marvelous time as a family.
Some of the happiest memories of the last few years were formed while I had a gun in my hand or was at a shooting range. A full-auto shoot on an icy winter night. Unwinding after a long and frustrating week. Teaching a brand new shooter. Showing a Marine friend how to get a proper grip on a handgun (and, even more satisfyingly, hearing him thank me for helping him tighten his group once he’d stopped “teacupping” the gun). Seeing Bitsy Boo go from a reluctant shooter to an enthusiastic one. My first and wildly unsuccessful bird hunt (one bird, lots of ammo). My first and even more wildly unsuccessful dove hunt (one bird, way more ammo). Even a birthday kiss that fairytale princesses would envy.
It is, then, entirely fitting that on a thoroughly windy, overcast and chilly day at the otherwise deserted gun club, with his M39 resting on a bench momentarily after I’d fallen in love with her all over again, Buddy put a ring on my finger and asked me to marry him. As he explained to friends, the engagement “involved gunfire,” and that’s as perfect a proposal as I could have imagined. I’m not sure a day at the gun range can be more thrilling than having your best friend ask you to be his wife as you both stand there with the smell of gunpowder lingering in the air, but Buddy and I have the rest of our lives to find out, and you can bet that we will.
Last month, twelve-year-old Kendra St. Clair was home alone when a man she did not know broke into her residence. At her mother’s instruction, she took a .40 Glock into a closet, then called 9-1-1. When the man attempted to open the door behind which Kendra hid, Kendra fired the first shot of her life through the door and into the man’s chest, causing him to flee the house. He was caught and charged with burglary, and Kendra was shaken but physically unharmed. (read the article)
As a mother, this story struck me hard. The notion of a child finding herself in this situation is frightening, but there is encouragement as well. Kendra did everything right. She didn’t answer the door when the man first approached. She immediately sought help – first from her mother and then from 9-1-1 – and took steps to avoid confrontation while simultaneously preparing to defend herself. When push came to shove, she took decisive action that very likely saved her life. I haven’t spoken with a single person about this, liberal or conservative, who doesn’t believe the girl is a hero who did the right thing.
Fortunately, Kendra lives in Oklahoma where “castle doctrine” is law and recognizes her right to absolute safety in her home and allows her to use lethal force to protect herself if her home in invaded. She is immune from prosecution for injuring or even killing a home invader. There are no laws requiring firearms owners to use locks on their firearms or make them otherwise inaccessible to children. This is not the case everywhere in the United States. Oklahomans should be proud of their gun rights and jealously guard them against politicians who would seek to impose gun control laws that would have left Kendra St. Clair at the mercy of the man who invaded her home.
Be sure to talk about Kendra’s story with your children. Talk about how important it is not to answer the door unless the person on the other side of it is someone whom you and they know and who has your permission to be in your house. Talk about the phone calls Kendra made, how she hid quietly, and how she used a gun in self-defense. Show them how to call 9-1-1 and teach them what to say. Talk about how Kendra stayed calm in spite of being frightened and took control of what was happening to her. If you haven’t started teaching the children in your life about gun safety, please start now. If they have the safety rules down pat, take the next step and start teaching them to shoot. OPD is more than happy to help you guide your children into a safe and responsible relationship with firearms every step of the way. For more information, please visit our youth academy website.
Just last week an 11-year-old girl in Michigan was home alone when a man forced his way into the home. She hid in a bedroom closet with her father’s shotgun, and when the man forced open the closet door she aimed the gun at him and he fled (really?). A detective on the case said, “Her father is an avid hunter, she is familiar with weapons and inside that closet is where the gun case is.” Police caught up with him a short time later and he was arrested.
Read the article and watch a video here. This wasn't just a random act on the part of the little girl, she did a whole series of things right, starting with noticing a stranger parked in her driveway. I have no doubt she had some training.
At 11 years old I was trained enough with firearms that I could have done this very thing. Your child may not be at this point, but it is a parent’s decision when they start training their child with firearms, and when they entrust them to use said firearm at home should they need it. And yes, there certainly are 11-year-old girls like this girl who can defend themselves. Even kids don’t have to be at the mercy of whatever a scumbag decides to do with them!
Be a responsible parent and get your child some training. It doesn’t have to be with firearms, but make sure your child knows what to do at and away from home, with or without you present. It just might save her life someday as it did this little girl.
OPD Founder and Lead Instructor
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New Year's Resolutions?
We all know the drill. The new year turns over, we decide to reinvent ourselves and resolve one thing or another, and at the end of the year we find ourselves having to resolve the same things again in the next new year. It gets old after a while, doesn’t it? Enter Mique, her bright idea, and my new resolution not to do resolutions… quite.
Mique at thirtyhandmadedays.com has come up with an idea that I love and am implementing for myself and my munchkins this year. For kids, she encourages a quick recap of the year gone by along with what they’re looking forward to in the new year. For parents, she suggests choosing a single word that you want to define your new year and focusing on the things you want, need, and will share as it progresses. It’s brilliant and can be saved from year to year as a record of your child’s and your growth as a human being, holding you accountable for your “resolutions” and creating a fun opportunity to see how much we change and where our priorities lie as time goes by. You can find the printable templates for children and adults here. I’d love to hear what you come up with!
2014 brought our family the gamut of emotions: the thrill of new adventures; the grief of a dear friend lost; the relief and sometimes frustration of beginning homeschooling together; the joy of all of us shooting together at last; feeding snakes and feeding eagles; wrestling tigers; snow play; beach play; heights braved, and much, much more. It was such a whirlwind that, though my children kept me laughing with the silly things they said, I find myself having been remiss in recording them. Still, in keeping with January Mom’s Corner tradition, here are two that made it onto paper. Hope they give you a giggle.
Missy Moo: I’m a decade. But you don’t say you’re a decade. You say you’re one decade old.
Legolas: Missy, when you get to be fifty you’ll be an antique. Antiques are at least fifty years old. MOM is almost an antique.
Legolas, as we’re driving: What’s a pissy chick?
Legolas: That sign. It said, “pissy chick.”
Me: You mean “psychic”.
Happy New Year to all of you from Missy Moo, Legolas, Bitsy Boo, and me!
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