Many people ask me if I was always a “gun girl”.
The short answer is no.
If you are interested in the details of my journey, you can read more below.
No two journeys look the same. I share mine to encourage you. I hope you see that I am a regular woman. I navigated the concealed carry lifestyle and I want to help you do the same.
In 2010 I had two boys under the age of two. Life was crazy but it was fun!
I was 6 years into my career as a High School Spanish Teacher. I had recently finished my masters degree and I really loved teaching. I pictured myself teaching for the 30+ years.
My husband decided he was going to get a concealed carry license. It required taking a 12 hour course. He asked me if I wanted to sign up too. I looked at him like he had three heads and said something that I am embarrassed to admit. I said there was a greater chance of there being an accident with the gun than there was of me needing it. I was naive and ignorant.
It ultimately boiled down to me being afraid. I was afraid of guns in general. I was also afraid to take the class. I assumed everyone in the class would be experienced and I hadn’t even shot a gun before.
The morning of the class I decided last minute that I should go. We called the instructor and were able to pay an extra free to get me in last minute.
What changed my mind? I didn’t really want to do the training but there were legitimately times when I could end up with my husband’s gun in my possession. I wanted to make sure I would be legal.
It was common for me to drop him off at work for an hour on Saturdays and then go to a shopping plaza down the street until he was finished doing what he needed to do. (He was a scientist and had to move things from different incubators and such.) He wouldn’t be allowed to take his gun in to his workplace so it would be in the car with me. (It would be locked in a glove box but still in my possession.)
Even though I decided I would get a license for legal technicalities, I didn’t envision myself ever intentionally carrying a concealed gun of my own.
Per Ohio’s requirements at the time, our class was ten hours of classroom time and two hours of range time. There were over 30 people crammed into a small space. Most of them had their guns out on the table in front of them. This meant that at any given moment (especially since we were in the front) we had multiple guns pointed at us. The instructor didn’t have a high regard for safe practices in the classroom.
The whole experience felt like we were going through motions. It didn’t seem like the instructor cared if we learned anything or not. He showed up to collect his money, check off some boxes and give us the piece of paper we could show the state. He wasn’t invested in the students’ learning.
The people who had experience with guns probably didn’t notice it as much. They were probably content the class was easy and happy to check the training off their to-do list. For people in the class who had never touched a gun, this class was a huge disservice.
That day I accomplished the task of shooting a couple rounds through a gun for the first time but I didn’t leave the class feeling comfortable or confident. I didn’t feel much different at all.
My husband is a fixer. The scientist in him is always identifying problems and thinking of solutions. He felt that carrying a gun was a big responsibility and that the training should be a more meaningful experience than what we had. He decided to take the courses to become an NRA Instructor so he could teach concealed carry classes on the side. We thought it would be a fun hobby for him and the little extra income would be a bonus. (I was paying an a fortune for daycare at the time!)
My husband put a lot of care and effort into making his concealed carry training high quality and it showed. He started out training our friends and family in our living room in November of 2010 but it grew quickly. That was the beginning of Armed2Defend.
The topic of concealed carry was becoming a more constant presence in my life but I still didn’t feel like guns were for me. I didn’t feel truly comfortable around guns yet. I didn’t even feel a strong urge to get comfortable.
One day I was dropping off my recycling. In our town the dumpsters were behind a large strip mall and there was very little traffic back there. When I pulled up I noticed a man sitting in a white unmarked van near the dumpsters. I have no idea why he was sitting there. He didn’t do anything threatening but I got an uneasy feeling. My 1 year old and 3 year old kids were in the car. Some ‘what-ifs’ starting going through my mind.
If I get out will he get out and approach me as I am get my recycling out of the trunk? Does he have a teammate waiting behind the dumpsters? Would his goal be to abduct me and then my children would be left there alone? Or would his goal be to take the car and children and leave me there? Or take us all? The thoughts and possibilities raced through my mind.
Dropping off recyclables was something I did every week but I had never felt vulnerable doing it until that day. It was my wake-up moment. I’m already at a disadvantage based on my size and strength. When you add children into the picture I would be even more disadvantaged.
I realized I needed to be prepared in case someday I had to fight for my life and/or the life of my children.
I went from scared to empowered once I identified a why. My children were my why.
Once I started to get comfortable shooting was fun! I was hungry to learn more!
Each new thing was scary the first time. For example, when I took my first defensive class where we did things like shooting while moving, drawing from holsters and engaging multiple targets, I was very intimidated. Shooting rifles and shotguns for the first time was scary too! Everything is scary when it is new!
Interestingly I didn’t get alot of instruction from my husband. It was like the stereotypical story of how the handyman husband doesn’t do any projects around his own house. You’d think I was lucky to have a firearm trainer as a husband. When I’d ask him to go to the range though he would say the range was like going to work.
When I asked him for advice on figuring out holsters he really wasn’t that helpful. Women are so different than men. I had to navigate that stuff on my own. I love being a helpful friend to new lady shooters as they figure that stuff out because I remember how hard it was for me.
I’ve always had the heart (plus college degrees!) of a teacher. Anytime I learn something new it is natural for me to want to teach it to others.
I knew becoming an NRA Certified Instructor would be an important step for being able to effectively teach others. In August 2013 I enrolled in an NRA Basic Pistol Instructor class.
We started a monthly women’s shooting group called Rosie Pistol in 2014. Many ladies coming through our Armed2Defend concealed carry training left class feeling great but were still too intimidated to go to a shooting range by themselves. They needed middle ground. We came up with Rosie Pistol as a solution.
My heart is always looking for ways to support other women on their journey of exploring the gun world. I remember how alone I felt at times while I tried to find my place.
Rosie Pistol is still going strong 6 years later! It is a great group of women! I have made so many friends through the group over the years.
Armed2Defend was really picking up and becoming too much for my husband Kevin to handle solo. (He had left his career in 2012.)
I loved teaching but I also had a deep desire to be home more with my children. Kevin needed to hire someone to help with phone calls and emails. I was able to stay at home and take care of the kids while also helping him with these tasks.
In June 2015 I packed up 11 years worth of teaching. It was bittersweet. I wasn’t sure if it was the right choice. Today, I know it was.
Running Armed2Defend with Kevin has been so rewarding. It’s more than a business to us. We believe in what we are doing and we love helping students who come to us. I feel good knowing the students we train are getting a much better experience than I got back in 2010.
I’m a regular mom. I drive a mini van. I struggle to keep my house clean. I feel like my days are full of laundry and dishes. I take my kids to the park. I hit Walmart once or twice a week (yet the kids still complain there is nothing to eat).
We hold classes 5 or 6 times a month and on those days I love being in the classroom. The rest of the time I am a stay at home mom who answers phone calls between taking care of the kids.