Ladies get ready, aim, fire
By YENA PEACH SANCHEZ
Port Clinton resident Debbie Tester, who was once afraid of firearms, tried out her husband's 20-gauge shotgun this weekend with the assistance of some National Rifle Association officials.
"It's not as bad once you get out there," Tester, 46, told another participant, Lisa Oestreich, 37, formerly of Gibsonburg and now of Van Buren. "The first shot's the worst."
Tester and Oestreich were among 30 women who participated Friday night in the NRA's Women on Target free instructional shooting clinic for women. The event was held at the Camp Perry Training Site in Port Clinton. Two more similar events will be held there within the next two weeks on July 30 and Aug. 6.
All the necessary equipment was provided by the club. Firearm use, ammunition, lunch, eye and ear protection are provided free of charge.
"The goal of the program is to introduce women to the shooting sports and to show them that guns are not inherently bad or dangerous. They are like any other tool for sporting purposes," said Keith Bailey, Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association president.
He said he was pleased with the number of women who attended.
"This is a pretty good turnout," said Bailey while standing outside with his wife, Gwen, who also enjoys shooting for sport.
She added: "My joke is, 'If momma's involved in shooting, then dad can do it more and the kids can get involved, too.' This is a sport the whole family can go out and do."
Instructional shooting clinics provide an introduction to firearms and shooting techniques, upon which women of all ages and levels of experience can build both skill and enjoyment of the shooting sport.
Tester, who teaches self-defense to women at the Port Clinton Martial Arts Center, has shot both a pistol and shotgun a few times before and is looking to learn to shoot for sport, not for hunting. She hit five of 15 clay pigeons out of the air during her target practice Friday. Oestreich said she would like to learn to shoot so that she may go racoon and deer hunting with her husband, Scott.
Participant Carol Speno, 61, of Northfield said she's looking forward to attending more women's NRA events. She said it would be advantageous to have the personal satisfaction of knowing how to handle a gun with confidence and respect.
And she's trying to overcome her fear of firearms by learning more about them.
"I thought maybe if I learned more about it, I wouldn't be so afraid," she said. " ... Knowledge is power."