You guys think walking into Vicky’s Secret to buy an unmentionable for your lady is intimidating? For most women, the thought of striding up to the gun counter compares to heading over to the Moose Lodge for a swim and a sauna.
It can be an intimidating experience. Fortunately, my husband – a patient man – taught me to shoot before we tied the knot. Since then, I have taken training and qualified to be a shooting instructor. I even hunt. So, for me to write about my experiences learning to shoot aren’t as compelling as this interview with St. James, Mo., woman named Paige Eissinger, an NPR listening, baby boomer woman who decided she is a gun nut about 18 months ago.
Barbara: How did the first gun experience go down?
Paige: I’ve been to Bass Pro but never Cabela’s, other than online, and I’ve never shopped for a gun anywhere. When I started shooting last year under your tutelage, I figured I’d talk my husband, Rick, into letting me have his Smith & Wesson 22A and buying another one for himself. As long as he didn’t mind me shooting it, I didn’t see why I needed one of my own. I said the same thing about buying an electric bass guitar, too.
Chuck Knapp, one of my fellow band mates in Diezelfitter and a longtime guitar player made the comment once that he really didn’t like playing through somebody else’s amp. He went so far as to say it was almost like wearing somebody else’s underwear. While I won’t quite go as far as that, I do admit that I like using my own amp a lot more than using somebody else’s, too. By the time you took me to Cabela’s, I was starting to feel a little bit like that about shooting someone else’s pistol. As a novice shooter, I was enjoying trying different guns, but I was also beginning to think I was serious enough about shooting that I wanted one of my own.
Barbara: When we walked up to the door, what went through your mind?
Paige: I was really excited about going to Cabela’s. Once I walked through that door, I knew I was going to walk out with my own .22 and thanks to you and Adam, a very helpful young man at the gun counter, I did just that.
Barbara: What did you look for in the fit of the gun?
Paige: I remember asking your husband, Jason, during the FIRST Steps class they presented together how I’d know if I was choosing a pistol that fit me when I decided to buy one. His response was that it was just like trying on a pair of shoes. When you found a pair that fit, you just knew it. His statement really hit home when I picked up a Browning Buck Mark UDX. I looked at Barb and she knew I’d found the perfect fit. The Buck Mark wasn’t the first one I tried and it wasn’t the last one I tried, either, but it was the one I took home.
Barbara: You’re a leftie. Any problems with that and finding a suitable gun?
Paige: As far as fit and feel, there’s really no difference. If you hold the gun correctly, you’re holding it the same way whether you’re right handed or left handed. For me, the problem was finding a gun with the magazine release, safety and slide lock on the right side instead of the left side. If you’re right handed, imagine having those things on the left side of the gun. Since I use the Buck Mark for target shooting, it’s not an issue because I don’t have to do anything in a hurry … but it would have been nice to have everything within reach of my thumb instead of having to bend my trigger finger back to access the magazine release or reach over the top of the gun to access the slide lock and the safety.
Barbara: What sold you on the gun?
Paige: Fit and feel. I go back to Jason’s shoe analogy. It fit. The weight was comfortable and the trigger was positioned so it was easy to place the pad of my index finger where it’s supposed to be.
Barbara: What did you not like about the experience?
Paige: I didn’t like having someone try to convince me that I "should" buy a particular gun, even after I picked it up and it didn’t feel right in my hand. Adam was great. He let me try everything I wanted and answered my questions but he didn’t try to sell me on a particular model just because he liked it. Unfortunately, the guy who was working with him didn’t hesitate to tell me what he thought I should buy.
Barbara: Any advice for women who might be contemplating buying their first handgun?
Paige: Take someone you trust and someone who already knows how you handle a gun. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to "try on" as many guns as you want. Make sure you actually aim the gun like you would if you were using it so you can see the sights. Look at where the safety, slide lock and magazine release are and practice using them. Oh, and don’t forget your driver’s license or legal identification card.
My first trip to Cabela’s is behind me now and I can assure you it won’t be my last. I also discovered that when a wife calls home to tell her husband that she just bought a gun, he doesn’t want to know how much she paid for it or why she thought she needed one. He just wants to know the make/model so he can look it up on the ‘Net!
Barbara: What’s next on your gun list, Paige?
Paige: Well, I just bought a new pair of shooting glasses. I wear eyeglasses, so I had to find something that fits over them. I already have a pair but they’re more like safety glasses so although they fit over my glasses, they don’t fit really well over my ears and they tend to slide down my nose. The ones I just bought are more like the sunglasses I wear over my regular eyeglasses so they fit better around my lenses and behind my ears. They also come with clear and tinted lenses. My husband and I also bought some new earplugs and I plan on buying some muffs because sometimes, ear lugs just aren’t enough. I’m also considering what method I want to use to carry my new M&P. Should I get a purse? Do I need a holster? Will I want a fanny pack? So many choices!
In fact, Paige has already purchased a second gun – this one for concealed carry purposes – a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Compact.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Barbara Baird for conducting this interview on behalf of Guns & Patriots. Please visit www.womensoutdoornews.com and www.sheshoots2.com for more information on guns and how to use them.