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El P: Final AAR of the all-female event at Gunsite

“All female Gunsite event?” my friend asked, when I told her I was attending the 2013 Remington All Ladies Range Event. “That is so not you.”

The event, held at the Gunsite Training Academy in Arizona, was sponsored by Remington, EOTech, and Galco.

She was right.  This was the first all female shooting event I’ve attended.  I have never been a fan of them (all female events that is) for various reasons, the primary one being that since life isn’t segregated my training shouldn't be either.   What I wasn’t expecting was the level of camaraderie and overall support that occurred on and off the firing line with this group of women.   Nor did I anticipate the quality and passion of instruction provided. Jessica Kallum from Remington, Amy Miller from EOTech, and Rachel Fry from Galco are all ladies who not only know their product, they also love their jobs. This showed in their enthusiasm throughout the week.

Of course, being at Gunsite was a unique experience. It was reassuring  to be in a place that supports our 2nd amendment rights and so passionately trains civilians in the use of firearms.

The event was led by Il Ling New, a long time Gunsite Instructor who provided practical shooting instruction, some for home- and self-defense, some for hunting skill, throughout the week.  She possessed a certain ease and confidence that contributed greatly to her ability as an instructor and she was full of useful information about shooting. There is no doubt that she knows her stuff.  I do not usually shoot in the weaver stance that Gunsite favors. As a result my hand and arm rifle positioning was frequently, sternly modified by the range officers. As I believe there is always something to learn, this gave me the opportunity to spend time utilizing different techniques and determining whether they'd work for me.

All the theory in the world doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work for the individual.  For example, while shooting the Remington Versa Max Tactical shotgun at Gunsite, I shot all drills in a weaver stance as instructed.  I put my shots on target and was able to handle the recoil of the shotgun fairly well, though I felt like I still needed to brace myself for it (to be fair the Versa Max didn’t really have much noticeable recoil).  Then the first weekend after returning from Gunsite, I attended a Graham Combat Combative Shotgun class. There the instructor evened out my stance a bit and aligned the butt of the shotgun more to the midline of my chest.  I was then able to really compare how the two different approaches worked for me. Both did work, but in this case I was surprised to notice a large difference with Graham’s instruction in how my body absorbed the recoil. As a result, I was able to stay on target more effectively, but I am glad to have had the opportunity to make an informed decision.

Though I enjoyed the entire week and learned a lot, one downside was the lack of overall trigger time on some of the varied drills.  Running a few drills just isn’t enough for me to get to know a product. For example, while we were shooting Bushmaser ORCs with EOtech EXPS 3-0 Sight and G33 magnifiers mounted, we were limited to just a couple of iterations of a moving drill designed to utilize the optic while configured that way. The ability to transition from long range to short quickly and easily was what I liked most about that optic setup. I would have liked to do more of it.

One of the most useful things I took away from Il Ling New’s instruction was a basic home defense training strategy.  She recommended that all students measure the space in their homes to determine exact distances in those spaces where defensive skills might conceivably be used. Her advice was to use that information in order to better structure our training time at the range.   There’s a lot to consider for home defense as far as safety, neighbors, lighting, and the other variables that come into play.  However, this particular tip was a powerful reminder that I have the ability to really know every nook and cranny of my home, to tailor my practice time at the range for my specific needs and to get the greatest advantage of the ‘home ground.'

Personally, the most notable thing I took away from this event was that it coincided with a major shift in my thinking. This shift had been building for some time.  I realized I had become dependent on the specific way I set up my personal rifles, handguns, and gear.  When we were issued the Remington Bushmaster ORC I found myself complaining internally that I didn’t have my own pimped out trigger, specific optic, and accessories, etc.

That’s when I realized, none of that should matter. As long as I have the fundamentals of shooting, I should be able to pick up any rifle, shotgun, or handgun and be able to shoot fairly well.  I didn’t like the fact that I was tacitly blaming my poor shooting performance on not having my usual setup.  Somewhere along the line, I lost my sense of really knowing and practicing the basic fundamentals.  This has significantly shifted my focus in how I train.  The focus will always be on developing myself no matter what gun, school, methodology, or techniques are in play.

am what is being developed.  Everything else is just a tool.

Note: go back and read Ellen's daily SITREPs from the Gunsite event for more information: Day One is here, Day Two is here and Day Three here.


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