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Equipping ladies for firearms training is smart business.

Firearms training is an important part of any firearms purchase. A gun is useless if the person holding it doesn't know how to operate it. Providing your lady customers with information on training possibilities is an essential part of any sale and can increase the number of aftermarket items you sell.

Many firearms training schools that were once an exclusively male domain have taken notice of the growing number of women interested in personal defense training and have developed courses designed exclusively for women.

I recently returned from a three-day Ladies Pistol Course at the Gunsite Training Center in Arizona. This course is a condensed version of Gunsite's Basic 250 Pistol class with special emphasis on short-range shooting and alternate carry methods. The three-day format was created for busy women who may find it difficult to get away from their jobs or children to attend the week-long course.

Safe gun handling is the first thing taught by the instructors at Gunsite, making this an ideal course for first-time gun buyers. Ladies learn how to safely load and unload their pistols, the Weaver stance, how to draw from a holster and safe dry firing techniques.

Night shooting and house clearing exercises are also part of the curriculum. During the three days, we shot almost 500 rounds of ammunition, becoming safer and better gun handlers.

Sending a lady off to a course like this means she will need several accessories to get the most out of her training.

The first item of importance is the firearm. The weapon of choice at Gunsite is the Colt 1911. Many men try to discourage women from purchasing such a powerful gun, but with proper training, any woman can handle a .45.

Gunsite, and many schools across the nation, teach the Weaver Stance, which provides a solid gunfighting platform and limits the impact of recoil. I used three different guns for my training, a Ruger SP-101, a S&W 3953 and a 1911. The 1911 turned out to be my favorite. Your lady customers probably won't have three guns to experiment with, but the most important thing is that she trains with a gun she intends to use.

Once a gun is selected, your female customer will need a carry method. Gunsite requires holster training first because it is an easier motion to learn than drawing from purses or packs.

I used a Safariland paddle holster and a Galco LadyGunsite rig for most of my course. Some of the ladies who were having difficulty finding a comfortable holster used a tactical SWAT style rig. This allowed them to practice drawing without pulling the gun up into their armpits or banging it painfully into their ribs. The SWAT rig is a good alternative for short-waisted women and would only be used for practice. Offer to let your lady customers try on several holsters so she can get a feel for the style that would best fit her body-type. You may be able to save her a lot of discomfort and make her firearm training more enjoyable.

Since most women's clothing is not compatible with holsters, all of the ladies attending the course were interested in alternative methods of carry. Once we perfected a regular holster draw, we were shown how to draw from a purse, fanny pack and Safepacker.

The Safepacker from The Wilderness is shaped like a large nylon and Velcro wallet. It can be carried in the hand, on a belt or by a shoulder strap, and has room for a gun, as well as a spare magazine or speed loader. Gunsite instructors said one of the main advantages of the Safepacker is that it is a new device that is not readily associated with firearm carry. The Safepacker is available for all automatics and revolvers, and can be special ordered in colors, but is usually manufactured in basic black.

There are several companies such as Galco, Feminine Protection and Lady B Safe who make purses specifically designed to accommodate a firearm. Be sure to have a variety of purses on hand or catalogs your customer can order from. A woman considers her purse a part of her wardrobe and may want to own purses in several styles and colors. Having a large selection means bigger sales for you.

The same is true for fanny packs. Gunsite instructors recommend brightly colored fanny packs that do not loudly proclaim they are concealing a gun. It is important to have in stock a variety of colors to compliment clothing. A black or subdued color is almost a dead give-away that a person is carrying. Dark-colored fanny packs are so popular with law enforcement that criminals often use them to "mark" police officers. Advise your customers that bright colors are better.

Eye and ear protection is also important equipment for firearms training. Show your customer all of the various options available to her and discuss the merits of plugs versus earmuffs. Carry a few smaller sizes of eyewear to fit ladies' more petite faces. Some courses combine outdoor and indoor shooting, so you may want to recommend eye protection with interchangeable clear and colored lenses.

A night shoot requires a good quality, lightweight flashlight, preferably with a pressure switch on the end. Tac-Star Industries, Mag Light and Laser Products are among the few companies that make firearms-compatible flashlights available to the general public. These lights can be hand held or mounted on a firearm. Don't let your lady customers go to a training school with a huge police baton-style flashlight or the one she uses on family camping trips. She won't thank you.

The bottom-line is, a variety of equipment beyond a gun is needed for firearms training. Having all of these items in your shop and being able to explain to customers why they will need them will boost your sales tremendously. Consider calling the local gun schools in your area to determine their minimum accessory requirements.

Remember, dealers who are knowledgeable about the equipment required for firearms training will gain their customer's confidence and turn them into loyal patrons.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Parsons, Lisa
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Aug 1, 1994
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