Training Galore for Handgun Shotgun and Rifle

In April 2013 I started my journey into firearms training with Force Options. When I started, my experiences with firearms could be counted on one hand. However, my  perceptions were strong and were rooted in my exposure to their role in mainstream media.  Since my journey began nine months ago, I have trained with defensive handgun, concealed carry handgun, shotgun, precision rifle, and carbine. Each was a first. And, as with all firsts, came experiences of all kinds. I was reminded of the vulnerability of being the learner. I fought the challenge of starting over - and then starting over again...and again.  And I felt every emotion I can think of in the most unexpected of situations. Here is my journey.


The Classes

Armed in Heels at Force Option Defensive Handgun


Defensive Handgun


Date: April 13-14, 2013


My Gear: Glock 19


What I Remember Learning: How to wear equipment. Why the right equipment is important. How my Glock works. Training is kind of fun. Lots of details go into making a shot. Certain things make me really nervous. Who you shoot with makes a difference.


My Take Away:  I get scared and it influences how I shoot.. I want to get better.



Armed in Heels at Force Option Tactical ShotgunTactical Shotgun

Date: September 14-15, 2013

My Gear: Remington 870, 20 gauge

What I Remember Learning: Shotguns are big. I am little. Slings are amazing. How to work my shotgun. A new type of sight picture. A new type of grouping. Ammo options. It is fun to show the gun whos boss. Be careful with your thumbs. Shotgun makes me feel awesome. Recoil pads are helpful after 4 hours of shooting shotgun. Girls are just as good at shotgun as boys.

My Take Away: I LOVE shotgun!





Armed in Heels at Force Option Concealed Carry HandgunConcealed Carry Handgun

Date: September 28-29, 2013


My Gear: S&W Bodyguard .380


What I Remember Learning: I train for self defense. Triggers come in all shapes, sizes, and weights. How to utilize a safety on a handgun. Trigger control is really really really really important. There are options for sights, this kind is cool. Mags that hold 6 rounds can be annoying during training. I like my CC holster. I’m really good at clearing malfunctions. My gun doesn’t like certain types of ammo. Training with cover and concealment is fun.


My Take Away: I am empowered.



Armed in Heels at Force Option Defensive HandgunDefensive Handgun (Again)


Date: October 12-13, 2013


My Gear: Glock 19


What I Remember Learning: I seriously need to work on sight picture. I need new sights. I can tell when I yank the trigger. I have strategies for improving trigger control. My grip shifts if I feel hurried. If I say the word “focus” when I take shots, I remember to check sight picture and have a smoother trigger pull which makes me shoot better. Reloads need to happen up in my workspace. I’m raising my standard of what I consider acceptable accuracy for myself.


My Take Away: I’m more concerned with my accuracy than my emotions -- it’s time to figure out what gear is best for me.





Armed in Heels at Force Option Precision RiflePrecision Rifle

Date: December 7-8, 2013


My Gear: Remington 700 Tactical .308


My Gear Broke So I Shot: FN SPR .308


What I Remember Learning: How to work a new type of gun. Optics cause more stress than the gun itself. Laying on my tummy. The cheek on the stock lined up with the optic is less than comfortable to learn. Playing with a bean bag to rest the gun. Gear is really important. Math makes shooting more fun. It takes a long time to reset targets at 600 yards. Breathing is important.


My Take Away: I could really like precision rifle… in the future… if it were cheaper.



Armed in Heels at Force Option Tactical Carbine

Tactical Carbine

Date: January 4-5, 2014


My Gear: Armed in Heels Full Auto M4 with OSS Suppressor


Hubby’s Gear That I Stole and Used: SBR AR-15 with 11.5" Barrel


What I Remember Learning: I can wear gear in new places. How to hold a rifle. Little size/weight changes on the rifle make a big difference on how comfortable it is to hold. I’m little. How to use a new kind of safety. A new sight picture. Rifles are bigger to manipulate when clearing malfunctions. My hip is a fantastic ledge for resting my gun. What it means and how to change my "hold". Moving and cover drills are fun. There are lots of different positions to lay/sit in when shooting. I like shooting while sitting on my feet. I do not like shooting laying on my back. Shooting on support side. Remember to breathe and relax the bum.


My Take Away: I’m keeping Hubby’s rifle - I like it.




Lesson 1: It is Uncomfortable to Be the Learner - and that’s OK

If there’s one word to describe me it is “driven”. No doubt, I’m an overachiever. I push myself to my limits and am never satisfied until I know I am on track to becoming the best possible version of myself. With a PhD, I’m an expert in my field. I’m used to this expertise. I’m used to knowing things.  But I’m really bad at remembering what it was like before I had this expertise. It doesn’t feel good. It sucks to struggle with things you are passionate about when you are constantly surrounded by others who have already figured it out. But the fact is this: in order to learn or change our minds about new things, we have to be in a state of cognitive dissonance -- we have to be “uncomfortable in our minds”.  However, whether we are  successful businesswomen, females in positions of authority,  respected parents, or viewed as independent strong woman - we are used to being the best. And when we’re not, it is blatantly uncomfortable. While I have not at all become comfortable with being the “new one” or “the learner”, I have learned to become patient with myself and to accept that this feeling is temporary yet important. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to engage in much of my training with the same group of amazingly supportive people who help me feel proud of the progress I make without reminding me of how far I still have to go. I am forever thankful for them.


Lesson 2: Starting Over...and Over...and Over Is Trying - but builds self-efficacy

The first time I do something, I am always a bit overwhelmed. I remember the first time I ever put on a holster getting ready to go to class. Even that seemingly simple task seemed like I was being asked to solve the most complex puzzle known to humanity. My internal talk went something like this: “You want me to find pants that ACTUALLY fit a belt? Then you want me to use a belt that is actually MADE to be used as a belt? Then I have to put on the holster, but ouch that’s my hip bone. Ok, got the holster on. Wait, what?, I was supposed to put the magazine holders on before the holster? Ugh, ok, I’ll start over. Mag pouches, got it. Geeze, no, I put them on between the wrong belt loops. Ok, one more time, belt loop, mag holders, more belt loops, one side of the holter, ugh my pants are falling, ok other side of the holster, man I’m out of breath, last belt loop…. Wait, what kind of belt is this? Mine don’t close like this. Ouch! I guess I didn’t need that thumb nail. Ok done! Wait, now I have to pee.” And that was just a belt. Now add in a touch of anxiety and a piece of metal and polymer with a few handfuls of working parts. By about my third class I was expecting that I wouldn’t have to start from the very beginning again. I’m not sure why that thought was in my head. It is as if I thought that magically my experience with one type of firearm have enabled me to acquire knowledge about another one that I knew nothing about. I mean they all go bang, right? Before the first drill in every new class I had to raise my hand to get help loading the gun. Many times the thought crossed my mind, “I cannot believe I still need help loading/clearing/checking this.” About half way through the first day of each class my Hubby would ask me, “How do you like this one?”  And at that point, each time, my answer was almost the same, “I think I can almost load and unload it without feeling stressed, rushed, or anxious.”  I would feel frustrated that I couldn’t be progressing because every time I had to relearn the most simple mechanics. Each time I was having a new experience. And I wasn’t “relearning” the mechanics each time - I was “learning” them for the first time. But what I was relearning was how to persist through figuring out new firearm platforms. This made me more confident in my ability to become comfortable with new firearms. As a result, my self-efficacy, or self-confidence with specific task, increased dramatically. I am fully confident that, given any firearm, I could learn it - and that change in mindset has been a huge accomplishment.


Lesson 3: I Can’t Help It, I’m Emotional - and I love that about myself

If you’ve read my stories from before, you know that in the beginning of my training, I really struggled with fear. Somewhere in my journey, I’m not even sure when, my fear faded away. I remember one day on the way to class Hubby asked me how I was feeling. I said, “Well I’m not scared, but I think I feel a little bit anxious.” To which he replied, “That’s ok, I feel a little anxious every time I go to class too.  I think its because we’re excited - or because our bodies are mad that we are awake so early.” Even in the absence of fear, however, I still feel a variety of emotions while training. They used to build up in my stomach and make me feel a bit nauseous. But I learned to label them and vocalize those that concerned me. During drills that I raised anxiety, I told the instructor. For example, every time we worked on how to clear certain types of malfunctions, I would feel stressed. I learned to speak up, “Fred, I don’t like how this drill makes me feel because it makes me nervous.” Instructor Fred would then walk over and remind me exactly what was happening, how the gun worked, and do the first one with me if I wanted. Then the discomfort was eased and I could happily move on. For every tentative emotion there was always a positive one. I love drills that have us moving around, they make me really happy and excited. So Fred would introduce a moving drill and I would say “YAY, this one is fun!”. What I noticed is that as I communicated my positive emotions, I felt them even more. So I cheered for my partners when they did a good job and gave high fives to people if I felt so inclined to do so. While males generally look at me as if I was some strange species at first, I found that positive emotions become contagious. So, yes, I sometimes felt anxious, nervous, scared, or stressed. But even more I felt happy, excited, energized, surprised, and fantastic. And I love that could feel all of those things.


My Take Aways

I am thankful. I’m thankful for a great instructor. I’m thankful for amazing training buddies. I’m thankful for my Hubby. And I’m thankful for everything I have learned about myself on this journey. I will continue to learn, however uncomfortable it might be because I want to get better. I will continue to start over, because I’m confident that new platforms will just be new fun. And I will continue to be proud of myself and all the emotions I will feel. These things make me who I am and they make firearms part of my identity. I am an empowered and educated female shooter -- I can’t wait to see what comes next….




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Force Options: Website - Facebook - Twitter

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