Shooting clinic helps women learn about firearms

CorrespondentMay 7, 2014 

— Successful shotgunners don’t typically dance their way off the skeet course chanting, “I got two! I got two!”

But Regina Allen of Cary had waited months to try skeet, and she shattered two bright orange clay disks to the cheers of fellow shooters and instructors.

Allen and 11 of her “girls night out” friends and family group joined nearly 50 other women to face fears and have fun during a “Women On Target Instructional Shooting Clinic at the Durham County Wildlife Club off Hopson Road.

“Some people were scared, excited, nervous,” Allen said.

Ivy Fussell-Raymond of Raleigh said shooting isn’t easy, but she learned she could hit a playing card with a rifle.

“We learned that we’re capable,” she said. “Once you get over that nervousness, it’s all a thrill.”

September Hill Lucas of Sanford believes “it’s necessary to learn how to handle weapons not just for yourself but for your family.” After amazing everyone by hitting 11 targets on the trap course, she added a shopping memo to her phone: a Beretta AL391 Urika shotgun.

Always “afraid of the accident that might happen,” Jessica Bryant of Sanford, an eighth-grade English teacher in Raleigh, said, “I felt I needed to learn the proper way in case there was an emergency.”

Bryant and women in the Friends of the National Rifle Association-supported clinics find empathy because many instructors know how they feel. Six years ago, Lisa Williams of Oxford was one of the wide-eyed women at a clinic at Sir Walter Gun Club in Creedmoor.

“I was terrified of guns,” she said.

Now, she said, “I’m one of those people who got the bug,” and she’s a trained instructor on the pistol range, bringing laughter as she and other instructors, most of them women, shared time, equipment and knowledge.

The volunteers nearly outnumbered the students, and it could be hard to tell who was having the most fun. Robert King, president of the Durham club, said he enjoys seeing students learn about shooting.

“They start out tentative, and they really get into it,” he said.

King credits champion shooter Edie Fleeman of Durham as the force behind volunteer turnout and the popularity of the twice-a-year clinics, which are partially funded with an NRA Foundation grant from Friends of the NRA banquet proceeds and $25 registration fees.

“The goal is to introduce women with little or no experience with firearms to the shooting sports,” Fleeman said. “A lot of the ladies who sign up sign up because they don’t know anything, and they’re afraid.”

Jarah “Jay” Moore of Oxford left her comfort zone for the clinic. The secretary tried skeet and shattered an orange clay. And she tried pistol, trap and rifle. But it was archery that was everything Moore hoped.

“Oh, I loved it! I’m glad that they said after you do it don’t run out and get a bow because on the way home I would have been looking on Amazon,” said Moore, who planned to shop local for a proper fitting.

Robin Battle, a Durham mortgage loan officer, shoots with friend Charles McCrimmon, a Marine Corps veteran from Timberlake. “He wanted me to come to a real event and get real experience,” Battle said. “… I love the rifles.”

A flyer at a gun shop led Wendy Phillips of Oxford to the clinic with Moore’s friend Donna Grant.

“I think every woman should have to do this,” Phillips, an administrative coordinator, said. “… Shooting makes you feel empowered. It gives you peace of mind that you could defend yourself.”

Boggess: Twitter: @BoggessT

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