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Old 11-15-2009, 3:38 PM
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Default Women-only firearms training in Manteca

Finally a decent article about firearms training published by the local media (in this case the CoCoTimes):
Manteca club's women-only gun class teaches empowerment, overcoming fear
By Denise Ellen Rizzo
Posted: 11/15/2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Updated: 11/15/2009 0419 AM PST

MANTECA Donna Matthew was shaking and nervous when she squeezed the trigger of her first handgun. Although scary, it's an experience she hopes to repeat and she's not alone.

The Tracy resident was one of more than 45 women who participated recently in a free, women-only firearms class at the Manteca Sportsmen's Club. The objective of the class, Ladies' Pistol I, was to teach women the basics about guns.

Many of the participants said they came to the class to learn more about firearms, which some of them have in their own homes but have never shot or handled.

"I was surprised I hit anything," Matthew said, standing outside the club's outdoor firing range just off Airport Way in Manteca. Her group had just finished shooting .22-caliber revolvers and now she was waiting to shoot a .38-caliber weapon.

"It was the first time I ever (shot a gun)," Matthew said as sounds of gunfire echoed around her. "I enjoyed it. There's a lot more to it than I ever imagined. I thought I'd be more afraid of a gun, but they give you solid information."

The classes are open to women across San Joaquin County. One thing that makes the program unique is that participants only need to show up everything is provided, including safety gear, ammunition, one-on-one instruction, and a variety of different pistols to use on the range.

Nancy Randall, of Manteca, said she and her husband own guns, but she's never shot them.

"This is something everybody needs to know," she said.

Each month, club instructors, all volunteers, teach different firearms in both women-only classes and unisex classes with men and women.

Classes are offered for both beginners and experts in the use of firearms, including pistols, shotguns or rifles. The idea is to promote gun safety and show people that guns, when handled properly, are not to be feared, instructors said.

"Our goal is to spread the word that guns aren't evil," said club member and certified instructor Mike Gutterres. "It's a tool like everything else. We've got people that literally have never held a firearm before and it's a scary thing. To show up to the class is huge "... (to) take that first step. It teaches people how to be safe."

Funding for the class is made possible through an annual grant from the National Rifle Association, Gutterres said. Each class runs three to four hours and begins in a classroom.

In Pistol I, students are taught the basics from different types of firearms and ammunition, to how to stand and properly align a target before any of them are allowed to touch a firearm or step onto a firing range.

Jennifer McClurkin, of Salida, said the class gave her a sense of empowerment.

"It takes away the fear factor," she said. "I'm a perfectionist. I started with a .22 rifle and now I want to try everything. I know now I can do this."

Annie Arguelles, of Stockton, who is married to a retired police officer, said she came with her teenage daughter, Janelle, so they could learn how to properly use a firearm.

"I never shot before and people don't freak (out) around you with the one-on-one (instruction)," she said. "You stay focused."

Also attending the class with her mother was Kara Cunningham, of Manteca. She said her prior experience was shooting BB guns, but she soon learned that shooting firearms is a completely different experience.

"When I heard about the class I thought it might be fun to shoot a gun," she said. "The class was fun and informative. "... I'd recommend it."

Many of the women in the beginners' class said they plan to attend the advanced women's program, Ladies Pistol II, which will be held Saturday at the Manteca club. No reservations are required, but club officials ask those interested to contact them so they can be assured to have enough instructors and equipment available.

For information, call 209-823-7919 or go to
# IF YOU'RE GOING WHAT: Ladies' Pistol II class, for women only
# WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday
# WHERE: Manteca Sportsmen's Club, 30261 S. Airport Way, Manteca
# COST: $10
# DETAILS: Call 209-823-7919 or go online to
# NOTE: Manteca Sportsmen's Club offers monthly firearms training, including classes for women only, for all experience levels. Beginner's classes are free; advanced classes are provided for a fee.

"Let those find fault whose wit's so very small,
They've need to show that they can think at all;
Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls, must dive below." -- John Dryden
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