These Detroit Firearms Instructors are to be applauded.
U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Firearm Instructors united August 15th and 16th in Taylor – a Detroit suburb – to provide free firearm training to 1,938 metro-Detroit women. They answered a call for assistance by Rick Ector, a Detroit Firearm Instructor, who conducts an annual program to give women a free range safety briefing and a free shooting lesson. Last year, 814 local women were trained by the program. At that point in time, it was the program’s highest-ever attendance total.
The program was created by Ector nine years ago after watching a local story on the news about a woman’s lifeless and naked body being found in a deserted field. He was inspired to ask four fellow firearm instructors he knew to donate their time to help him give women a free shooting lesson. That year fifty women were trained. All expenses were donated by the gun range and Ector.
The free program, now in its ninth year of operation, has grown steadily over the years. Accordingly, Ector set a goal of training a total of 1,500 women this year by conducting his program at two local ranges – “Recoil Gun Range” and “Top Gun Shooting Sports.” Both ranges are located in Taylor, Michigan.
On Saturday, August 15th, a single day training record of 1,200 women being trained how to safely operate a pistol was established at the “Recoil Gun Range.” Further, another 738 women were trained on the following day at “Top Gun Shooting Sports.” Thus, a total of 1,938 women were trained over a two day period.
Students were registered for the program over the Internet to arrive for scheduled range safety briefings and a shooting lesson. Lessons were delivered via one-on-one pairings with a vetted volunteer instructor. The responsibility for classroom instruction and overall supervision of the range belonged to an all-woman team of Chief Training Officers (CTO): Tanisha Moner, Margie Walden, Audree Danielson, and Jamie Gabriel.
Moner, an NRA Chief Range Safety Officer (CRSO) and Certified Firearm Instructor (CFI), served as a CTO for the event. One of her main duties was to prepare the women attendees for their shooting lesson by delivering a presentation on safety rules. She also described what to expect during the live-fire exercise.
When asked to explain why she donates her time to the event, Moner said the following, “Helping to empower these ladies – usually at the beginning of their journey into firearms – is surreal. I can’t NOT participate in this event; it is the highlight of my year.”
Walden, Danielson, and Gabriel are all also NRA CFIs, who served the event as CTOs. Their jobs were to supervise first-line firearm instructors who taught the women attendees how to safely load, handle, and discharge 9mm semi-automatic pistols at approved targets.
Walden explained why she donates her time to the program as the following, “This is the fifth year in a row that I participated because I think it’s very important to empower other women. As a firearm instructor I want to do my part to ensure shooters are trained properly and safely.”
Danielson explained her participation as the following, “I really enjoy working with instructors and volunteers on the range for the ‘Legally Armed In Detroit’ (LAID) event. I love Rick’s event because every person involved – whether they are a participant, volunteer, an instructor – help to make a positive impact on our community.”
Gabriel explained the merit of the training program as the following, “The ‘LAID Annual Free Women Shoot Event’ is important to me because of the safe gun handling training and women empowerment. Every year is an opportunity to build, encourage, and edify women in their pursuit of firearm knowledge.”
Ector’s program relied upon the donated labor and travel expenses of some of the participating Firearm Instructors and other volunteers. The following people who visited Michigan to donate their time are listed as the following: Craig Deluz (CA), Kerry Sloan (WA), Aquil Bey (MD), Candy Petticord (OH), Michael Petticord (OH), Abby Petticord (OH), Jim Irvine (OH), Patrick Collins (GA), Mike Piowowarski (FL), and Kevin Sona (FL).
This year’s program also relied upon donations from a variety of generous sponsors to cover operational expenses:
- “Recoil Gun Range” donated the use of its meeting space and gun range on Saturday, August 15th.
- “Top Gun Shooting Sports” donated the use of its meeting space and gun range and sponsored lunch for volunteers on Sunday, August 16th.
- “Gun Owners of America” (GOA) donated 1,500 pairs of safety glasses and gave away 1,500 baseball GOA imprinted baseball caps.
- “Firearms Legal Protection” (FLP) donated 1,500 target silhouettes and sponsored lunch for volunteers on Saturday, August 15th.
- ATEi donated the use of its 9mm semi-automatic pistols.
- Black Bottom Gun Club donated 900 gun locks.
- Fenix Ammunition donated 10,000 rounds of 9mm FMJ ammo cartridges.
- Michigan Gun Owners (MGO) donated 10,000 rounds of 9mm FMJ ammo cartridges and 1,000 pairs of ear plugs.
Volunteer firearm instructors for this event are often the unsung heroes who enable the training to take place. There were scores of instructors who conducted the training of the women but there are too many to list individually. However, one such instructor – Charles LeBron Simmons – is being singled out because other than Ector, he is the only person who has donated his time every year.
Simmons explains his participation in the program as the following, “I look forward to ‘THE EVENT’ every year. I really enjoy showing women of all ages and skill levels how to shoot. I know that it only takes training one to make a difference.”
As a result of the program’s run-away success this past weekend, many observers are wondering what is next for the program. Ector is currently planning for the program to not only grow in the state of Michigan at additional locations, but he also wants to conduct this program in other states across the United States. He is currently quiet about next year’s training goal but he has hinted that he wants to take the program to the next level.
Ector wants feedback from the public, as to where he should conduct his program in the future. Additionally, he is currently seeking additional donors who can make those plans financially feasible.