by Amber Waldroup
When it comes to guns, I admit, I let my husband handle them. He knows the ins and outs of each gun, how to take them apart, clean them, and put them back together, and what to shoot with what gun. He lets me handle the food and other supplies. I know how many bags of sugar we have, where the toothpaste is stashed, and what I need to restock the pantry with when I go to the grocery store. That works for us. But that’s not the best idea.
Oh, I can shoot the guns. I’m a better shot with the 9mm than the hubby is. But I’m not entirely comfortable with the shotgun—it kicks more than I like—and the rifle is intimidating. I can get them out of their cases, load them, shoot them, and clear them, but they make me nervous. I know, I know. That’s a very bad trait for a woman of the house to have. I’m not afraid of the gun, because I know that I control them, and that their power lies in my hands. I just haven’t spent as much time with them as I have, with, say my mixer. Or my oven. Or my pressure canner. You get the picture.
And that needs to change. Like right now.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate why all women need to know how to handle, load, shoot, and unload a gun. Well, I may tell you a story or two, because that’s just the kind of girl I am.
My Momma is one of those southern women who can do it all. Cook, split firewood, garden, gather eggs, and scour the internet for the real story—the one the media doesn’t tell you—she can, and will, and does, do it all. She works a full time job, and has an impressive garden, an impressive stockpile, an impressive library (which she constantly reminds me to read), and an impressive plan to protect her family no matter what happens. She also has a husband, who though he might not admit to it, and though it might take him a day or two, will do whatever she asks him to do. So it’s not like she has to split firewood. She just does.
Momma is rather attached to her chickens. No, they’re not pets. They’re food. The eggs, the roosters, and the old fat hens have fed our family and friends for several years now. Some days, she gives away eggs by the dozen, and other times, like this hot, dry, hot summer, she holds onto those eggs like gold.
One day, Momma went to the chicken coop to feed the fat birds some scraps from the garden. She decided to gather the eggs while she was there. What did she find in a nest? A snake. I asked her later what kind of snake it was, and she said “I don’t know! It was in the nest and it’s dead now!” Momma got her gun (yes, her gun that she bought to kill the crows that have been eating her garden, which she is also rather attached to) and marched back to the chicken coop. Unfortunately, the pellet gun didn’t have much of an impact on the 6-foot-plus snake.
Of course, this made Momma mad. So, like any good southern woman would do, she marched back to the house, called my step-dad, and asked him which gun to use. He told her, she got it, and out she went. One shot later, the egg eater was gone. As a side note, let me add that normally, Momma wouldn’t kill a black snake, but it was eating her eggs, so it had to go.
Yes, it was a non-venomous snake, but what if it hadn’t been? What if she’d taken my little kids to gather eggs—a favorite pastime of theirs—and had met up with a rattlesnake? A copperhead? A cottonmouth? Or one of the coyotes that’s been lurking in that area? Or a wild dog? What would she have done then?
Same thing she did this time, and the same thing any man would have done. Shot it. Only problem—no man was home. My step-dad was gone. My brother was at work. My husband was at work. So, Momma did what she had to do. She got the gun and killed it. And she wasn’t afraid. She was more mad that the snake had the audacity not to die the first time she shot it.
What if it was you? What if you were in your backyard, and you came up on a threat? Maybe a venomous snake or a rabid animal? Maybe a criminal looking for his next victim? What would you do? I’ll tell you what I’d do—just what my Momma did. Shoot it.
Girls, if you are afraid, nervous, or uncomfortable around guns, here are some tips from another girl to help you get more confident around them. You never know, you just might have to defend yourself or your children one day.
- Ask questions about guns. Talk to your husband, dad, brother, whoever, and just learn more about them. When would you use a shotgun? When would you use a rifle? What kind of range does this have? What kind of spread does the shell for this gun have?
- Go to the gun store and handle the guns. They’re empty, and the guys behind the counter are loaded with information. Play the helpless female card if you have to, but get your answers, and get comfortable with that unloaded weapon in your hand.
- Go to the firing range and shoot. We head out to Momma’s to shoot, and I’ve shot at everything from pizza boxes (not so much fun) to pumpkins (lots of fun!). Before you slide that first magazine into the gun, get your guy to go over every part of the gun—the safety, the trigger, the sights, how to load it, how to unload it, how to get ready for the first shot, what to do after you shoot it, how to reload, and how to hold it. Think to yourself “The gun is loaded, and the safety is off.” This will keep you from making a costly mistake.
- Shoot until you’re comfortable. Then shoot some more.
- Shoot all the guns you might ever have to shoot. I don’t like my brother’s handgun, but I’ve shot it. I may have to shoot it one day, so I better have at least had it in my hands before my life depends on it.
- Wear the gun. Grab the holster, stick the unloaded gun in it, and wear it around the house. You’ll soon become de-sensitized to it, and it won’t be like “Oh, there’s a gun on my hip!” It’ll just become part of the house, like the remote or phone.
- When you go shopping for guns, you hold the gun. You pick it up. You pull the slide back, and you see if you feel comfortable with it. Not all guns feel right to everyone, and if you’re going to use the gun, it should fit your hand.
- Give yourself a test when you pick out ammunition. Tell your hubby to let you do it. With no help. He can check your answers when you get done, but you’re going to try. Do this for all guns, not just the one you shoot. I admit, I don’t know what kind of ammunition to buy for our rifle and shotgun. But I know how to read the box to find out.
- A trick I use to help me feel more confident about the ammo for those two guns is that I had hubby write “rifle” and “shotgun” on the boxes. Yes, it makes him look like an idiot, but it gives him peace of mind because he knows I have the info I need without having to think if I ever needed to load one of them quickly.
- Don’t fear guns. Like I said before, you hold the power in your hands. You control them. Don’t let fear, or ignorance, keep you from being confident and in control.
Here’s one last story. A few years ago, someone tried to break into our house. Our neighborhood was suffering from a rash of break-ins and attempted break-ins. I was home, alone, with our two kids. The low down smarmy criminal bumped our back door. The kids and I hid, paralyzed with fear, until the police arrived. That night, hubby and I had a tactical meeting, where we discussed my potential action plans should someone ever get into the house. I had several options, depending on where I was and where the kids were. After he laid out all my choices, I decided I wanted to use the shotgun (we didn’t have our handgun yet) filled with buck shot. Better odds that way. Much as I hated the thought, I was ready if it ever happened again.
Fast forward to earlier this spring. Same thing happened—low-life bumped the back door. One kid was at school, the other down for a nap. I called 911, and fought with the safe to get my friend Mr. Smith (yes, I named the gun, but don’t tell my hubby I told you!). Opening the safe was harder than loading the gun, because I hadn’t practiced it time and time again. Once I got the gun out and loaded, I stood in one of my pre-determined positions, gun drawn and pointed at the spot my target would appear. Thankfully, the scum bag didn’t get inside, thanks to the reinforcements hubby and my step-dad made to our back door after the last time. When the officer arrived, I answered the door, gun in hand. He asked me what I was going to do with the gun. I told him that since he was here, I was unloading it and putting the gun back in the safe where it belonged. He laughed. I don’t think he expected me to know how to unload it. He underestimated this southern girl.
Girls, don’t be a liability to your husbands. Learn to handle the guns and handle them with such confidence that you can always take care of your family no matter what. Your man may not always be there to kill the snake or defend your home from bad guys. He may be at work. He may be out hunting. He may be gone. You may have to hunt to feed your family. Your life, and the very lives of your children, may depend on your skill, knowledge, and ability to handle a gun. Don’t wait until it’s too late to learn how.