Published 5:56 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I’ve never owned a gun. Never thought I needed one, except maybe to kill a snake; and I have managed to do that with a shovel. I neither hunt, nor do I feel threatened from any source, except for maybe snakes.

I have fired a shotgun a couple of times and a pistol once or twice, just because they were there and I was curious; but I have never had much fascination for firearms, nor have I ever wanted to own one.

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So, why would I sign up for a special firearms class for women? I am not sure I can explain it. BUT, after hearing Deputy Ken Davidson speak to Rotary about what to do in case of an active shooter, I decided that just maybe I would need to use that knowledge someday. Of course, that would also necessitate the need to own a gun of some kind, and if I need to really be able to defend myself in a threatening situation, I would need to obtain a permit to carry. What good is the gun if it is kept locked up and unloaded, with bullets stored separately for safety’s sake?

I realized I have a lot to learn. I went right away to the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office and completed application paperwork, supplying necessary information for a background check. I went away feeling proud and happy. That was at least six weeks ago.

Saturday, October I, 8:30 a.m. arrived after I had spent a sleepless night wondering what I was getting myself in for.

I joined 29 other women of all ages in the Magistrate Courtroom at the DCSO. I was surprised at the number of women and the age spread. As I began visiting with others, I began to feel more comfortable.

All morning information was presented by Deputy Instructor Ken Davidson, Major Wendell Cofer and Capt. Julian Crowder.

The coursework covered all aspects of buying and owning a weapon, with emphasis on the license laws of Georgia……..Who, What, Where and When.

We learned a lot. A couple of surprises to me and many of the others, were that even if you have a concealed weapon permit and can carry your weapon in your automobile, not all states have reciprocity with Georgia, although those that touch our state do. When travelling through other states, check before you leave, and know what their laws are.

The other big surprise was that the use of deadly force in defense of your habitation does not necessarily apply to your personal property, such as your automobile, your pets, etc. You must fear for your life and safety, or for the life and safety of others. “If your life is not in danger, do not pull your gun,” was the advice given by Davidson.

Major Cofer gave specific testimony about how the minute you fire that gun your life will change, stressing all the possible legal repercussions that can follow, including lawsuits. That led to the next good piece of advice. “If you have time to think of whether to shoot or not, the answer is ‘No.’”

Different types of handguns were shown and explained, as well as different bullets, stressing, know your target, and know where the bullet goes and what it will do. Detailed instructions were given on how to hold the weapon, using proper stance when shooting, and how to align the sight. At that point I became uneasy, wondering if I could do all that. Then the group broke for lunch.

The women were divided into three groups with different times to report to the firing range. That is when I, and some of the others, began to get really nervous. I reported to the firing range at 2 p.m., wondering if I could even hold the gun steady and hit the target.  Here we could practice with the weapon or weapons of choice. Some had brought their own guns, each of which was checked for safety by the instructors. We were joined at the range by Deputy “Bubba” Spooner, who helped us learn to load the weapons.

I chose a 38 revolver from the weapons at hand, put on earplugs, safety glasses, and in my ball cap was led to the white line I was told never to cross. I looked at that target in the distance and wondered if I could even hit the white paper, let alone get in the bulls eye zone.  As others around me began to fire, the sounds made me jumpy. With encouragement and assistance from Captain Crowder, I took the stance, found the sight, took a deep breath and slowly began to pull on the trigger, which seemed to have a lot of resistance. All the while I wondered what it would feel like when it fired. Would there be a kick to it? It felt like I pulled forever, then it all happened quickly. Much to my amazement, I hit the target. I was then told to go on shooting and empty the weapon, as Crowder moved on to help others. I took another deep breath and continued shooting until it wouldn’t fire any more. All but one of the five shots went into the zone. I’m thinking, “That’s good. I did it and now I’m done.”

I was then given the choice of choosing another weapon, but declined, as I preferred to take photos and talk with the others. I did enough to graduate and receive my certificate, which I photographed, along with my target sheet, and sent to my family from my cell phone.

I asked several women why they wanted to take the course. Most all said they just wanted to understand the laws and get comfortable operating a handgun.

Many of their husbands owned guns, and they wanted to be able to handle them without fear. At the conclusion of the classroom study one lady declined to go to the range. She said the class was fantastic, she had learned a lot, the most important thing being that she did not want the responsibility of carrying a handgun. That is fine. She achieved her goal.

Susan Mann had a more personal reason. She said growing up her family always had guns and she never thought about them until her sister was killed in a gun accident in 1973. After that, she had a panic attack every time she saw a gun. “I’m trying to cope with the fear. I feel more comfortable now after this class.”

That basically sums up the feeling of most of the participants, including me.

The course, called Ladies Firearms Safety Course, is offered several times a year. Due to the upcoming holiday season, the next course will be offered after the start of 2017.  Interested parties are encouraged to pre-register at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office soon, as the classes fill up fast.