Our children are sitting ducks …..

More gun control, less gun control, assault rifles, blah blah blah.  As the tragedy unfolded on FOX NEWS yesterday, I received a plethora of emails and private messages asking for my opinion from a gun-control perspective.  I respectfully declined comment yesterday as, for obvious reasons, to have those discussions while the bodies of murdered children lay in a classroom in CT would not only be disrespectful, but downright revolting.  Yes, there will be time for talks about gun control … there always is.  But today, my heart is heavy for another reason.

You have heard me say before that it is only a matter of time until we see a Beslan right here in our own country.  The tragedy at Sandy Hook is a reminder of just how vulnerable our schools are.  Our children are sitting ducks and targets for the enemy.  Yes, the enemy is certainly evil men like Adam Lanza, but the threat that I am talking about today is so much bigger than evil men like him.  The evil that keeps me up at night is the enemy of our nation.

While the nation is busy protecting our government buildings and sports stadiums and bridges, and shopping malls, terrorists are plotting against our elementary schools.  It is there that we are most vulnerable, there where an attack will truly paralyze our nation, and it is there where we will all too soon see a major attack.  It is time for the sheep to get their heads out of the sand, quite arguing about gun control and start looking at this for what it is.  An opportunity to recognize that events like Sandy Hook are merely precursors to a tragedy like the one we saw in September of 2004 at Beslan.

While it is important for us to be vigilant on matters like active shooter situations, we must wake up and prepare NOW for the true threat …. the external threat.  While we are arguing about politics and guns, the true enemy is plotting against us.  Terrorist fanatics slaughter children in their own religion  – kill mercilessly, and without regard for repercussion or regret of any kind.  Do you think that they will not come for our children as well?  To terrorists, children are noble targets.  Our schools are at risk.  It is only a matter of time until we see a terrorist attack there.

Therefore, my friends, we can waste our breath talking about gun control until we have all perished from exhaustion or we can start NOW to talk about the real problem … denial.  Because it is, with certainty, denial that is out biggest weakness and it is denial that will be what brings us down.  To say that a Beslan could never happen here is both negligent and obscene.


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The Truth About Personal Protection

  • A violent crime occurs every 12 seconds, 24 hours a day in the U.S.
  • A woman is raped every 46 seconds in America… that’s almost 78 rapes each hour
  • Nearly one in five women has been or will be raped in her lifetime
  • 25% of rapes take place in a public area with 1 in 3 woman being raped in a parking lot or garage on the way to their car. 30% never survive.
  • The Justice Department estimates that one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape during their college years and that less than five percent of these rapes will be reported.
  • Last year there were over sixteen thousand, six hundred murders – about 46 per day, or almost two per hour.
  • Over 3,500 aggravated assaults and robberies occur every day.  That is one every 24 seconds.
  • Last year there were 49,000 car jackings and attempted car jackings.
  • The time of day when men are most likely to attack and rape a woman is in the early morning between the hours of 5:00AM and 8:30AM.  Nearly half of all  violent crimes occur within one mile of the victim’s own home.  Other very common places for women to be abducted from or attacked are grocery store and mall parking lots, office parking lots and parking garages, and public restrooms.

These are startling statistics, but this is also good news for you.  Knowledge is power, and now that you know the facts, there are some things that you can do to minimize the odds of becoming a victim of a violent crime.

There is a misconception that assaults happen when bad guys jump out of bushes and randomly attack people.  But the truth is that crime is seldom random. Even the most desperate predator is very careful in selecting his victims.  87% of the time victims either know their attacker or they have encountered them at some time prior to the attack.  It is typically this prior encounter, what I call ‘The Interview’,  that provides the attacker an opportunity to manipulate a would-be victim into an assault.  The events that lead up to the actual attack, The Interview, can start minutes or hours or days ahead of time and can happen from a distance or right under your nose. The Interview provides an attacker the opportunity to assess a potential target. The attacker will ask questions, typically innocent questions such as “do you have the time”, “do you have a quarter”,  “do you know where such and such street is”, to see how their intended victim acts.  If the victim seems strong or doesn’t let them push boundaries, they will go to another victim.  Remember, they are not looking for a fight.

Another misconception that people have is that a person needs numerous training sessions to learn to defend themselves. This just isn’t true. The principles of personal protection and a few practiced and powerful techniques to deploy in the event that you are attacked can be taught in just a few short hours.  I recommend that everyone get some training, however, even if you choose not to seek a few hours of professional training, know that you already ahead of the game just having read this article. Studies indicate that a strong voice and assertive body language can be enough to cause a predator to look elsewhere for his victim.  And should he still choose you, 86% of the time fighting back can prevent the progression of the crime.  Again, a would-be attacker, robber, or assailant isn’t looking for a fight, he is looking for an opportunity.  He is looking for easy prey. Just as the weakest animal in a herd will be the first to fall to a hungry predator, so too will a similarly apparent person become the victim of crime before that of a stronger opponent.  Bad guys will choose targets based on the potential for success in the commission of the crime. If a bad guy thinks that someone will put up a fight, he will choose a different target.

Just a few simple practiced techniques can discourage a lurking attacker!  Here are a few things that you can begin to do immediately:

1. Give the perception of confidence when you are out in public. Walk with purpose, direction, and intent. Know where you are going, walk tall, shoulders back, confident strides, and use your eyes to look out straight and around, piercing, slightly suspicious – rather than looking down. Make eye contact!  This alone, will influence most potential attackers to take pause, allowing you to pass through their zone.  As we mentioned already, bad guys are looking for an easy victim and will purposely choose someone whom they feel will offer the least resistance and provide the easiest means for them to escape after-the-fact. It’s common sense, really.

2.  Be observant and take appropriate action.  Let’s say that you are walking directly towards a destination down the street, maybe an intersection or two away. While you are looking ahead, beyond what is directly in front of you, you notice a group of questionable characters hanging out on the sidewalk just beyond the next intersection between you and your destination. Your destination is on the same side of the street, so what do you?  This is a no brainer … you cross the road!  Cross over to the other side of the street and proceed in the same direction, crossing back a little further down the road – all the while looking perfectly purposed as though it was your intention all along. You avoid a potential confrontation, and you still make it to your destination.

3.  Be aware of your surroundings wherever you are, especially if you’re alone. You can listen to an iPod, but never turn up the volume so loud that you can’t hear your fingers snap. Walk with purpose, taking large steps. Keep your eyes up, and look around as if you need to describe this place to someone. Carry something you feel you could use as a weapon— stick, flashlight, umbrella, cell phone, keys or a water bottle. Don’t get caught in conversations with strangers, no matter what they ask. It doesn’t matter what they say or what they want. Don’t look passive or quiet, look like someone who would put up a fight.

4.  Think ahead.  Let’s say that you are walking to your vehicle which is parked in a mall parking lot or parking garage (any scenario will do). Instead of fumbling for your keys after you’ve arrived at the vehicle, have your keys in hand while walking towards your vehicle allowing you to make a quick and efficient entry. Walk directly to your vehicle, erect, shoulders back, confident strides. Upon arrival at your vehicle take notice of your surroundings before pausing to open the trunk or toss your packages in the back seat.  Immediately lock your doors upon entering your vehicle, put your keys in the ignition and leave.  Do not sit in your car reviewing your receipt, balancing your checkbook, making a phone call, etc. These distractions alone will lend to the potential that you could be caught off guard.

5. If you are approached by a stranger maintain two-arms-length of physical distance. Distance is always your friend!  If the hair stands up on the back of your neck, get out. Leave. Women grow up afraid to be viewed as unkind or selfish, to hurt another’s feelings, or say no and when we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation we tend to hold our breath and hope that the uninvited intrusion will just go away. And if we are lucky, he will.  However, when approached by a stranger, remember what I said about The Interview.  You do not need to answer questions from a stranger and, in fact, you can assertively ask your own questions and demand that a stranger maintain a physical boundary.  It is perfectly okay to appear rude.  Better to be thought rude than to find yourself in a situation where your life could be threatened.

6. If an attacker pulls a weapon and demands money or a wallet, throw it away from you and the attacker so that you can run. If they ignore the money, then you know you were the intended target, not your wallet. Step back with your strong leg and put your hands up, saying “stop right there” with a very strong voice. Get louder and louder, and repeat whatever you say. Don’t listen to them, they’ve shown you that they don’t care about crossing your boundary. Keep using verbal commands as it will keep you breathing and that is the key to success in self defense. Breathe. This will usually be enough to cause the would-be attacker to think twice about whether he wants to engage you further.  However, if the attacker does get close enough to grab you, ACT!  Fight back, using whatever methods necessary. Scream, yell, and strike out. Don’t freeze! Use the adrenaline coursing through your body, let your voice get loud, and your moves large and furious. Keep breathing!  By breathing you will allow your brain to continue functioning so you can think and act!  Strike out using large areas such as your palm or back of your hand or your feet. Keep striking until you are able to run. The best target areas are the throat, nose, eyes, knees, back of the hands and feet/ankles. It only takes 12 pounds of pressure to buckle an attacker’s knee.

The key to personal protection is to avoid confrontation in the first place. Appear confident, and use your brain. This will often be all that you need to avoid becoming a victim. We all have an innate sense of intuition that gives us information that we can use to stay safe. Listen to your intuition. Trust it. You do not have to live in fear!  No matter where you go or what you do, the principles of personal protection are the same.

– Jacqueline

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Handguns, shotgun and AR-15! What’s your choice for home defense?

I was recently asked about handguns for home defense and in a nutshell, here is my short answer…….

Although I carry concealed and typically carry a BUG (back up gun) as well, my primary home defense weapons are not handguns.  Yes, they are accessible and trigger ready in my home at all times, however, they are not the first thing I would grab for should something go bump in the night.  My primary home defense gun is an AR-15.  The collapsible stock and short barrel make it easy to maneuver in tight quarters.  Follow-up shots are fast and can be accomplished with extreme accuracy.  Recoil is minimal, and magazines can be quickly swapped.  Maintenance and parts replacement are a piece of cake (even for chicks) with a minimal assortment of tools.  A properly set up AR-15 is easier to shoot accurately and delivers more firepower than a handgun, is more accurate than a shotgun, more controllable than a subgun, and can be easily configured with lights, lasers and other accessories providing a great advantage over an uninvited intruder.  And best of all, you don’t need a permit to buy one.

With that being said, I am still a fan of the shotgun for home defense.  Although my AR-15 is my primary HD weapon, I always have my Remington and Mossberg shotguns staged as well.  I stage mine with Buck in the tube and slugs on the saddle. With the 00 Buck the pellets spread about one inch for every yard of range traveled.  So across a large room … say 18 feet or so … the spread will only be about 6 inches, a circle as big as a coffee cup saucer.  At 50 feet, the spread will only be about the size of a large pizza.  The slugs I run are Brenneke KO.  I stage my shotguns with full tubes and an empty chamber so that, if necessary, I can do a tactical load of a slug off my saddle.  If not needed, then I can just rack the pump to go hot with 00 Buck.

Whatever your preference is, have a plan and practice it often!  It is imperative that you know ahead of time what you will do should something go bump in the night!


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An Open Letter to the Firearms Industry

An Open Letter to the Firearms Industry
Written by: Anonymous

Some of us like pink things. Some of us do not. Most of us like things that are beautiful. Just slapping a coat of pink paint on it doesn’t necessarily qualify as beautiful. There is something childish and Barbie-esque about pink plastic, and we are grown women who packed our Barbies away long ago. A lot of us like engraved revolvers, shotguns with handsome wooden stocks, vintage rifles or stainless steel 1911s. We are drawn to the beauty of firearms and sometimes the history, but our taste in guns is as varied as our taste in shoes.

We appreciate all of the information that you want to give us, but we need to figure out what we like on our own. Don’t try to force us into getting .38 special revolvers or pocket pistols, because you think that’s what’s best for us. We might not know what gun we want right away, but if there’s one thing we can all do, it’s shop. So let us sort it out.

Just because we ask a lot of questions doesn’t mean we don’t have any idea what’s going on. We’re trying to learn and be thorough. Our process might be a little different than yours, but trust that we will learn to shoot. And we will learn to shoot well, if we so choose.

Please don’t underestimate us. Don’t talk down to us. And don’t ever tell my husband what kind of gun he should get me.

Most of us do not shoot guns for the sole purpose of looking sexy to dudes. (Though sometimes, it is a pleasant side effect). We shoot guns because we are curious and thoughtful and intelligent and we want to protect our homes and families and ourselves. Photos of scantily clad ladies posing with guns are a little played out. We would like to see more “real” women in advertising and media. We would like to be able to relate to the people who are trying to sell us guns.

We live with the sneaking suspicion that our bodies are not our own. They are for babies, for men, for mass media consumption. We try to modify them, beautify them, tone them, tighten them, shrink them, rid them of hair and slather them with make-up. But it is hard to feel entirely comfortable in that body when it seems as though it can be poked, prodded, invaded at any time. Part of gun ownership is putting an end to that. It’s saying that we value our bodies enough to defend them–that they are worth defending. We believe that we are more than vessels for carrying children or feeding babies or pleasing men.

We are assertive. We are informed. And we will not go down without a fight.

Female Gun Owners

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Millvale Sportsmen’s Club, Wexford, PA
Saturday, September 22, 2012 OR Sunday, September 30, 2012
10:00AM – 1:00PM

Please note that space is limited to eight students and advanced registration is required! 

Nothing can prevent you from an encounter with someone who wants to do serious bodily harm to you, however, being trained to properly deal with a situation can mean the difference between life and death. Fundamentals of Defensive Pistol is a three hour course designed for those who are new to firearms and also the experienced shooters who are interested in learning to use a handgun for personal defense. This course will introduce you to the fundamentals of defensive pistol in a non-intimidating and fun atmosphere! Fundamentals of Defensive Pistol takes place at a live fire range where you will acquire the essential skills in a safe and supportive environment. You will learn gun safety, marksmanship, gun-handling and the self defense mindset. You will receive personal attention, and the opportunity to practice your skills through a variety of drills. You will transform your firearm into a useful and effective tool for self protection! At the conclusion of this class you will be both comfortable with, and confident in the use of a firearm for personal protection. 

In this 3-hour class we will explore the following topics:

• The Self Defense Mindset
• Gun-handling for Self Defense
• Firearm Safety in the Home and On The Range
• Firearm and Gear Selection
• Proper Stance and Grip
• Fundamentals of Self Defense Accuracy
• Standard Response and Non Standard Response
• Post Engagement Procedures 

Equipment Requirements:

• Firearm in a 9mm caliber or greater
• Minimum of two magazines
• Eye and ear protection
• 150 rounds of ammunition in the correct caliber for your firearm
*Firearm, ammunition and safety gear can be provided at an additional fee. Please contact me to discuss. 

Space is limited to eight students per class and advanced registration and payment is required! You may register by email at INFO@Shootslikeagirl.com or by calling 724-712-1648.

A private class for your group can also be arranged! Contact me for details! 

See you on the range!

– Jacqueline

“I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.” – Susan B. Anthony

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The Struggle With Cross-Dominance

I am a righty who has struggled with cross-dominance my whole life. My dad figured out that I was cross-dominant when I was about seven years old on one of our regular trips to the gravel pits to plink some cans.  My dad spotted me shooting my .22 bolt action rifle right-handed with my left eye open and my head stretched across the butt of the gun to see the sights.  Very awkward shooting position especially for a seven year old.  Just for giggles he switched me to a left handed shooting position and I couldn’t miss!  I was too young to know what ‘cross dominant’ meant, but what I did know was that I could hit where I aimed.  His gift to me not long after this discovery was a .22 semi-automatic to replace the bolt-action I could no longer shoot as a lefty.
Fast forward 23 years and I’m learning to shoot pistol for personal protection.  As you can imagine, my first few times out to the range were chaos trying to shoot right handed with my left eye open … trying to shoot left handed with my left eye open … trying to shoot with both eyes open ….
There are several schools of thought on how to address issues of cross dominance where shooting pistol is concerned.  Bill Rogers is quoted in the article below suggesting that the best solution is to learn to shoot the pistol with the hand that matches the dominant eye.  As a woman who carries concealed, that would have me carrying my firearm on my weak side and learning to master all of my manipulations with my weaker hand.  I tried it, believe me I tried.  But I was just terribly unsuccessful.  Therefore, rather than learn to shoot pistol left-handed I worked very very hard to train my right eye to compensate for the dominance issue.   According to the experts, this is NOT the most optimal solution.
What are your thoughts?  Do you struggle with cross dominance?  Have you found a suitable solution?  Check out the blog post by Tom Givens to see what he has to say about it!https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/ccm-columns/behind-the-line/the-cross-dominant-shooter/

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Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough For Me!

Good enough isn’t good enough for me!

If you have ever done any group firearm training then you have surely heard the words, “good enough”.  As in, “that shot was ‘good enough’ for now so let’s move on”.  That was ‘good enough’ and we can work on it more another time.  Or, as a very dear friend of mine use to say in jest, “That shot was ‘good enough’ for government work”.  Well what is good enough?  Is good enough being able to hit a stationary cardboard tombstone target at 15 feet?  Or is good enough being able to hit a moving target from 10 feet?  Is it good enough to put a hole somewhere through the center mass of a 3-D target?  Or is ‘good enough’ even better if the shot goes through the head.  Maybe good enough is to just be able to hit close to where you are aiming.  I mean people are big targets so even if you are a little off from where you were aiming when using your firearm in self defense, chances are still good that you will penetrate the bad guy somewhere, right?

I got to thinking about this during a recent conversation with my very dear friend Ashton (okay, Ashton was yelling and I was nodding) in which we were discussing (discussing?) how critical accuracy is in self defense shooting.  I know it sounds funny that me, a certified firearms instructor with countless hours of training under my belt, would be talking about accuracy.  I mean, isn’t it a given that when we train we train for accuracy? Not necessarily.  I believe that the answer to that question lays in how you and/or your instructor define accuracy.  Is accuracy being able to put a shot somewhere ON THE TARGET, or is it being able to put a shot ON TARGET?  Might not seem like that big of a deal when you are on the range with a row of students all aiming for center mass on cardboard targets.  However, that same term takes on a whole new meaning when you are in Wal-Mart and an active shooter has grabbed your spouse (or father, mother, child) and is using them as a human shield while dozens of other shoppers attempt to disperse in panic.

For those of you who are long time fans of Shoots Like A Girl, you have heard me talk about a trigger control issue I have that impacts my accuracy and causes me to throw my shots a little low and a little to the left.  From a competitive shooting standpoint it isn’t that big of a deal as I am scored on being able to put my shots in a box or a circle on a cardboard target.  However, the idea of accuracy has always weighed on me from a personal protection standpoint.   Because of my less than spot-on accuracy, I have often ask myself the question: “If I were in a critical situation, do I feel confident that I could put my shot on target … even if that target was very small … without causing collateral damage to the innocents?”   If the answer to that question were, “hell yes!”, then I wouldn’t be telling you about my day today.

I had, at one time in my life, an instructor that was over the top fantastic but, for a variety of reasons, I had to stop training with him about a year ago.  Since then I have worked with other instructors to try and overcome my accuracy issue with very little success.  In an attempt to minimize the problem (or out of frustration that it wasn’t repaired), my most recent instructor advised me that I was being ‘too picky’ and that maybe I needed to ‘lighten up’ a little.  I decided that maybe he was right, and I started to get pretty good at letting the issue roll off my back.  Turns out that what I should have done instead was get rid of that instructor!!

I am thrilled to give a HUGE shout-out to Jay Cunningham over at LSHD who I had the honor of spending this morning on the range with!  I  am ecstatic to report that in no time at all today (and with just a few curse words spewed from my lips) Jay was able to zero in on the exact issue that I have been struggling with and provide me with techniques that had me on my way to an almost immediate resolution!  Now don’t get me wrong, Jay isn’t a magician and as any shooter knows, bad habits are hard to break.  But with his impeccable diagnostic skills, a small paradigm shift on my part, and some new and very applicable techniques, my accuracy quickly improved and the weight I have been carrying has begun to lift.

So why was Jay so successful with helping me over the hump when other instructors have just thrown their hands in the air, given up on me and said, “it’s ‘good enough’ the way it is”?  I believe that it is because Jay has a no nonsense way of teaching! His material is relevant and applicable.  It isn’t recycled junk that he pulls from a file cabinet of bull-shit tucked in the dark corners of his brain and then regurgitates back out to me.  And it certainly isn’t a one size fits all curriculum.  Instead it is a personalized assessment of my core competencies and a developmental plan of instruction designed to address my individual needs.  I walked away today with a sensible training strategy, new tools and techniques to experiment with in my training, and instructions on what to work on at home.  Most importantly, I walked away a better shooter than I was when I arrived and feel validated in my belief that good enough isn’t good enough for me!

Whether you are an experienced shooter who is looking to further develop, or you are a new shooter looking to get practical and tactical about your personal protection, training is key and I would love to help you start or continue your journey!  As always, you can reach me at Jacqueline@shootslikeagirl.com.

– Jacqueline

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