Last month, a thousand women from the Detroit metro area filed through local gun ranges to receive a free hands-on shooting lesson.
It’s part of a weekend event promoted by engineer-turned-NRA-instructor Rick Ector, who felt motivated to focus on teaching women to protect themselves after reading another story of a murdered woman’s body stashed in a dumpster.
This year marks the event’s tenth anniversary sponsored by Ector’s group Legally Armed in Detroit, in collaboration with local and national gun groups, Top Gun and Recoil gun ranges, ammunition manufacturers and dozens of volunteer instructors from the area, as well as many who came in from various other states.
Women queued down the sidewalk for the hourly safety briefing, where NRA instructor Tanisha Newton instructs pupils on gun safety to prepare them for the range. Then they proceed to the shooting range line, stretching outside and around the building, where overhead tents helped stave off the hot August sun.
Inside, instructors of all types awaited the ladies with freshly oiled 9 mm pistols and enviable piles of ammunition donated for the cause.
For some of the women, just showing up takes courage. Detroit is a rough town, and some of the women confided to instructors that they’ve been assaulted, robbed, beaten, stalked, or lost family members to shootings. After patience and coaching, though, most walked out of the range with smiles, admiring their newly ventilated pink targets.
“I’m just wanting to protect my family,” a participant named Tareda told America’s 1st Freedom. “I’ve shot before, but this is a refresher for me. I have two small children and my mother, so protecting my home and my family is a must for me.” Tareda is not a gun owner, but said, “I will be, very soon!”
While turnout was a bit lower than last year, it was difficult to maintain the mad growth of last year’s first-time gun purchases, which the NSSF says number 8.4 million, with women accounting for 40% sales, and purchases by Black Americans increasing 56% from 2019. The event was also competing with popular area events that had been shuttered in 2020 by the government response to COVID-19; however, range officers and managers agree that, although there was some loss in quantity, that did not diminish the quality. Instructors had plenty of time to spend with students, especially for the timid or anxious.
“We actually had time dedicated to making the experience more personalized to each woman’s individual needs,” Tanisha tells America’s 1st Freedom.
Both ranges report sturdy sales on both days despite being closed to the public. Participants received complimentary range passes, and over two dozen customers had already returned to redeem them.
Detroit’s former police chief James Craig also stopped by, encouraging ladies and their instructors.
“I was satisfied with the weekend,” Rick Ector told us. “This incredible event continued its excellent safety record, as no injuries of any type occurred during the entire weekend. This event could become a model for others, and I’m eager to see that happen.”
Another participant, who preferred to be unnamed, exemplifies the event’s outreach mission: “I was kind of scared of guns,” she admits, having no prior experience. “My mom was scared of guns, and she kind of put that into me.” Now that she’s informed and empowered, she plans to bring her mom to the next event.“I think today was kind of liberating.”