Armed and Feminine: A Class Act

When students come to Kelly A. Pidgeon's shooting classes, many of them have never picked up a gun, and others might be terrified of doing so.

Pidgeon's classes at a gun club in west-central Pennsylvania have been full since she began advertising under the brand Armed and Feminine in April, according to this story from the Indiana Gazette. It seems her classes are filling a gap, and she says the popularity of her classes have to do, in part, with the fact that there are so few female NRA instructors available.

A simple search of NRA-certified instructors offering the Basic Pistol Shooting Course on the association's website produces only a handful of women-only courses in any given state, and even fewer run by women.

A typical first-time class under Pidgeon's tutelage begins with 3-1/2 hours of pistol training and safety before students even get to the range. Then they go through the parts of the pistol, firearm history, the various types of ammunition and the science of operating the pistols, according to the story.

Students then practice with plastic guns, learning the correct grip and how to safely manage the muzzle. This all comes before ever laying hands on a real pistol.

In the afternoon, it's range time, what Pidgeon calls "the fun part." Students begin with a .22 and then move up to a 9mm and then to a .45 when they are ready.

Pidgeon gets help from seasoned shooters like her husband, who is also named Kelly Pidgeon, and Paul Haines. A class of six allows them to spend a lot of time and attention on each.

"Pidgeon said the NRA pistol courses she went through weren't a great fit for her. She said she asked more questions than the other students and saw a lot of eye rolling from the men in the group. She then set out earlier this year to create a program for women where they could feel free to ask all the questions they want, and take in pistol education at their own pace. Women don't just want their husband, boyfriend, or brother to load a firearm and hand it to them," she told the Indiana Gazette. "They also need and want the formal education aspect."

One of Pidgeon's students, Bonni Dunlap, hadn't had much experience with handguns before attending the class. Her husband has a revolver but she said, "If i had to use it for whatever purpose, I would be hard-pressed to."

She said she took the class for her own protection because she lives in the country.

"I was nervous. I was apprehensive," Dunlap said. "As I went through those sessions I was increasing my confidence level. If there are guns in the home, women should take advantage of the class and learn how to handle those guns."