Are you a woman who has taken a concealed-carry course but still doesn’t feel quite confident in your firearms handling and shooting skills? Or maybe you’re a woman who has never even fired a handgun before but would like to learn. Either way, The Well Armed Woman is for you! A national organization begun only about three years ago, The Well Armed Woman (TWAW) now has more than 300 chapters and 10,000 participants nationwide, and has chapters in every state except one. It was founded by Arizonan Carrie Lightfoot, out of the frustration she felt when she was first considering carrying a concealed handgun.
“When I began thinking about purchasing and carrying a gun several years ago, there was no single resource for a woman gun owner and shooter,” she said. “I was frustrated and disappointed to discover that there were so few resources that provided straightforward and complete information and products geared specifically toward me as a woman gun owner in this male-driven industry.” Lightfoot went on to say that “Today, The Well Armed Woman (www.thewellarmedwoman.com) is the complete resource for the woman gun owner.”
Ohio already has 14 TWAW chapters and participation is growing rapidly. The Mount Vernon chapter, for example, is less than a year old and already has 66 members. The leader of the group is Connie Cline, one of those genuinely welcoming people who has never met a stranger.
“Our women range in age from 21 to ladies in their seventies,” said Cline. “We meet monthly, as most chapters do, and we get anywhere from 30 to 40 members showing up for any one meeting. The ladies really like to shoot!”
Cline said that for her, involvement in TWAW grew out of several incidents in her life that got her considering a concealed-carry permit. “I wanted to be prepared to defend myself and my family, especially my young grandson,” she said.
The group meets at an outdoor shooting range owned by Sylvester Pocius and his wife, Michele (https://www.facebook.com/slytactrainingconcepts/). “We’ve found a perfect fit for our TWAW group at that range,” said Cline, “because Sly and the other men trainer’s there work well with women. They say that we listen better than men,” she grinned. “We also have a few women within our group who are certified handgun instructors and range safety officers who help out on the shooting line.”
Lisa Tharp is one of four co-leaders of the Ohio group. Asked what she enjoys about TWAW she said, “I didn’t grow up with guns in the house, but once I discovered how much fun it is to shoot I just love it. And I also like the skill development that goes along with shooting. The older I get the more it seems I want to learn about firearms and self-defense.”
Tharp went on to say that acquiring those additional shooting skills has made her feel more confident with a firearm. “For me, personally, it’s a protection thing,” she said. “Knowing that I could protect myself if I absolutely had to is a comforting feeling.”
Novice, intermediate, or experienced shooter, all women are welcome at a TWAW gathering. Attend one and you will immediately feel the camaraderie of the women. Everyone seems to be helping everyone and there is no pretense… just a serious emphasis on firearms safety, learning new shooting skills and having fun.
“The women truly enjoy our monthly evening out together,” said Connie Cline. “Sometimes we’ll go three or four hours and no one is looking at their watch or leaving early. They want to be here and their enthusiasm for shooting is contagious. We’ve become like sisters…”