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Women seeking firearms training in rising numbers

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
November 12, 2020
LITTLETON — Recently, it has been noted that more women are taking an interest in firearms. One local firearms training school out of Littleton can confirm. Raven Firearms Training co-owner and instructor Crystal Pelletier acknowledged that for a long time gun owners were traditionally men.

She said, "Women often felt nervous about entering that world, but over the last several years women have increasingly become firearms owners which is dramatically reducing the stigma women feel about owning a gun."

To date, hundreds of women have passed through Raven Firearms Training for the introductory class.

Pelletier said, "I have noticed that about 98% of the ladies leave the introduction class with much more confidence in their ability to handle a gun and to make a choice about what gun might work best for them."

She added, "Some of the ladies come into the class very fearful of guns but by the end almost all of them develop a healthy respect to replace that fear."

The instructor says that she can only think of about a handful of times, out of roughly 1,000 women trained, who were still fearful and were done with it.

"The new curriculum we have begun teaching this year has added to the student's confidence quite a bit as there is much more hands on. I am also extremely pleased that more of the students, ladies especially, are seeking further training once they decide on a gun," Pelletier said.

She says students are eager to learn everything about their gun and how to use it to protect themselves if need be. She added that those same students are taking responsibility for their own protection and says that she thinks that is very empowering.

On the flip side, Pelletier said, "Unfortunately, there are too many people that think once they choose a gun they are done. There is a lot more to learn about defending yourself with a gun than just pulling the trigger. Whether it is through us or some other reputable source I encourage every gun owner to get training on home defense, concealed carry or whatever use for the gun they have decided on."

When asked about any challenges she faces, Pelletier said that misinformation about firearms tops the list.

To that topic, she said, "One of the hardest things about being a firearms trainer or even a gun owner for that matter is trying to dispel the many misconceptions floating around about guns. For example, so many people think that the AR-15 designation is 'Assault Rifle.' It is not, AR stands for ArmaLite Rifle which was the first company to develop that rifle. An AR-15 is not even an assault rifle."

She went on to say, "Assault rifles have been used by the military for a long time. Assault rifles are capable of being shot as either 'semi-automatic' or 'fully automatic.' A semi-automatic gun, which is what an AR-15 and several other hunting and sporting rifles are, is only capable of shooting one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. A fully automatic gun which is what the Military has, is capable of shooting multiple bullets with one trigger pull."

Fully automatic guns or "assault rifles" are already illegal to own by most Americans. Pelletier noted that there are very few citizens who have what is called a Class 3 license that allows them to own fully automatic rifles.

She said, "Most of them are range or gun store owners. The process to get the license is extensive, costly and once someone gets the license there are very strict rules on how they are able to use and store those firearms. Once you get that license, you are subject to inspections by the ATF any time they choose. ATF is very aggressive on inspecting Class 3 license holders."

To further educate, Pelletier went on to explain, "For years the AR-15 has been wrongfully referred to as an "assault rifle."

Unfortunately, in 2018, Merriam Webster added the words "a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semiautomatic fire" to the definition. This was done as a political move to try to add credence to the already confusing rhetoric. People are led to believe that the AR-15 is the deadliest weapon out there because it "looks" menacing. One problem with that belief is that the rounds (bullets) used in an AR-15 are actually less deadly than most if not all hunting rifles. Many of which are also semi-automatic but don't "look" like a military rifle."

In keeping on the subject of education, Pelletier says it is crucial for everyone, gun owner or not to have some basic knowledge about firearms, given how divisive the topic can be.

"It would be great if people would educate themselves about subjects that are as divisive as firearms rather than take what they read or see on TV as gospel. Guns do not kill people. Bad or irresponsible people kill people using guns, knives, vehicles, drugs or any number of other objects," Pelletier said.

Pelletier mentioned that people with all kinds of back rounds and political views have participated in the courses.

She said, "It makes me feel hopeful that there are people who are willing to take the time to actually learn about guns and realize they are not the evil they are being portrayed as but a tool that with proper training can be used to protect oneself, and that shooting can be a fun activity as well."

Pelletier owns and operates Raven Firearms Training along with her husband Jake. Both are retired U.S. Marine combat Veterans with a combined 45 years of tactical training. For more information please visit ravenfirearmstraining.com.

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