Patty Williams and Jalie Meadors may be a couple decades apart in age, but they also have many things in common.  Patty and 12-year-old Jalie are both avid silhouette shooters, and both of them developed a love of shooting from their fathers. 

Jalie Meadors demonstrates proper shooting technique at the Carlsbad Shooting Range

As times are changing in our country, perhaps women honing their skills in shooting will become the new American norm. Local women say they enjoy shooting because it is a lot of fun, but they also value owning a firearm and knowing how to use it in order to protect themselves. As Cindi Lauper might say, Girls just wanna have guns.  Jalie’s dad purchased her first gun for her when she was three years old but she didn’t use it until she was seven. She explained that she mostly enjoys shooting as a fun opportunity to get out of the house. Jalie and her family are regulars at the Carlsbad Shooting Range and Action Sports Recreation Area in Carlsbad, and they also hit the road regularly to compete in Midland and Hobbs.

Meadors is still working on getting some more of her friends to join her. “It’s just a really fun experience, and everyone who wants to do it can do it,” she shared.  Jalie rattled off safety tips for any firearm: Always point it down or straight up; Always make sure the safety is on; Always assume it is loaded; Keep the gun clean and in good condition.

“Last July, my dad took me out shooting at some property in Ft. Worth,” said Patty Williams. “He said I was a natural. The next day, I told my friend ‘let’s go shooting again!” Since then, Williams said Melody and Duane Smith have taken her under their wings and helped her learn the ropes.  Patty has been an avid participant in regional competitions and has finished in first place on several occasions.

Silhouette shooting involves taking aim at four different metal targets, shaped like a chicken, pig, turkey and ram, and being scored based upon how close you are to the center.  “It’s a lot of fun when you beat the guys,” Patty added. “Usually, there are five of us who compete. I’m very competitive, so it is a competition even when we are not actually at a competition.”

Another local shooter, Theresa Chism, said she started shooting just 3 ½ years ago when she overcame a lifelong feeling of intimidation.  “I’ve always been scared to death of guns,” she admitted. “Then I got into clay shooting with a friend, and now I love it.”

The two older women, Theresa and Patty, are not hunters, but Jalia has been hunting with her family across New Mexico and has bagged several deer.

Chism stressed that she enjoys clay shooting as a hobby, but she also owns a gun for security reasons. “Guns are really good for women,” she declared. “They boost your self-esteem, and they make you feel like you can take care of yourself.”

Patty agreed. She bought her first handgun after going shooting with her dad. She’s since obtained her concealed-carry license and she’s receiving lessons on trap shooting. Additionally, she has purchased a second handgun. As with many hobbies, it can get expensive. “But I sleep a lot better at night,” Chism shared.

Shooting is a very inclusive sport, and some local members of the shooting scene compete with specially-designed modifications to their gun to assist them in overcoming a disability. The men in Patty’s shooting group used to baby her, but she told them not to go easy on her. The gun is a great equalizer, not only for self-protection but also is a great recreational outlet, so long as everyone knows safe and competent gun handling, declared local firearm instructor Eve Flanigan.

The local 4H program holds an annual safety meeting for anyone to shoot, and on the adult side it is a requirement to complete the certification training and be actively coaching to be compliant. The Carlsbad Sportsmen Club is always a good starting point for a beginner.  The local shooting community is a friendly group and always willing to help, says Chism.

“I’d start with a hunter’s safety course,” Theresa recommended for anyone new to guns. “That will put your foundation down. I think all women should take pistol training and concealed-carry.”

“Many women grew up shooting under the tutelage of a father or grandfather with military or hunting experience—usually with a rifle,” noted Flanigan.  “With the trend of owning and carrying concealed handguns, however, women and girls often find themselves learning the handgun with a spouse or dating companion.”

Problems can arise if the male shooter isn’t aware of a few simple handgun manipulation techniques that use core rather than finger strength, and can make a world of difference in a woman’s ability to enjoy handgun shooting. For this reason, Flangan said it sometimes is best for a female to learn from formal instruction with another female, or even a male professional who understands a range of gun handling methods.

Shooting any sort of firearm can be very rewarding,” added Flanigan. “Most people are surprised to learn that shooting can be meditative in nature. Good shooting requires total focus on the task at hand, breath control, and muscle control—all the same demands as yoga.” Additionally, she added, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of hearing the “dinnnng” of a steel target, a recreational or competitive shooter’s auditory reward for a job well done. “No matter what else life is throwing at you, shooting practice requires putting it all aside for a while.”

For more information on the Carlsbad Sportsmans Club, please visit http://www.carlsbadsportsmansclub.org

For information on Carlsbad’s shooting range, please visit http://www.cityofcarlsbadnm.com/parksrecsportscomplex.cfm