U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The more I look on Instagram the more women I see participating in the firearms culture in multitudes. Women shooting groups like Well Armed Women, and Girl and a Gun have formed in response to mass participation. So it’s no longer a surprise to see people like Ava Flanell aka Gunfunny and owner of Elite Firearms and Training. Ava, a strong beautiful woman who not only has one hell of sense of humor but takes what she does very seriously. I’ve had the honor of being on one of her podcast shows and let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to even have a conversation with her you’ll leave feeling like you just did hours of ab workouts from all the laughing you’ll be doing. Ava is someone that represents what I think the American people should view as a role model in the firearms industry. She’s a successful professional who doesn’t take herself super serious and I think there needs to be more people like that in the world.
I’m lucky to know Ava, so for this article, I wanted to ask her a few questions about her and her thoughts about the firearms industry.
Most people don’t ask this next question because they think it’s “boring,” but I think sometimes you have to ask even the boring questions because you just never know what answer you’ll get and who you might help out.
Preferred caliber and why?
Ava : I love 9mm. It’s a great self-defense round, it’s affordable, and you have more mag capacity. I personally carry a Glock 42 though. I can shoot accurately with even my non-dominant hand. For me, shot placement is more important than a larger round.
What sets you apart from other people in this industry?
Ava : I don’t take myself so seriously. Yes, I have a huge respect for firearms and always take them seriously, but the industry is filled with egos. As an instructor, I want my students to enjoy the class and learn in an environment where they feel comfortable asking questions.
Being a woman in the firearms industry isn’t easy. I feel we have to work harder at being taken seriously. So the next three questions I asked Ava were about just that.
As a woman in the industry what do you find most challenging?
Ava : As a woman, it’s tough to earn respect. I think most people in the industry see us as just another “gun bunny.” Fortunately, there are some amazing women in this industry with strong voices and great skills.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
Ava : I wish more women would get involved. Women don’t have to go in full throttle, visiting the range every weekend, but I wish they realized how important it is to be able to protect yourself. Unfortunately, the firearm industry is old school when it comes to marketing to women, which is very shortsighted. Women have a strong influence on deciding if guns are allowed in the house, if their spouse can buy a gun or accessory, or if they can teach their children gun safety. It’s in the industry’s best interest to get more women involved.
What do you find to be the biggest misconception of women in this industry?
Ava : That they’re not strong enough. Men and women alike share this misconception. It’s believed that women are not strong enough to rack the slide of a gun or load a magazine. I even thought this about myself when first learning. I quickly realized it’s more technique than strength. A person’s will and the practice they put into something makes them better.
What do you think is the coolest must-have product out there in the gun industry?
Ava : Let’s be honest, everyone should have a Mag Uplula in their range bag. People ask me all the time how I have nice nails. That little speed loader is to thank for that!
What are your thoughts about the firearm industry on Instagram?
Ava : Instagram is a great place to market yourself or company. Many companies are doing it right by creating a respectable social media presence. When I created my Instagram, I decided early on I wasn’t going to sexualize myself to gain followers or likes. There’s a saying that anything worth having doesn’t come easy. I prefer to have people follow me because I’m interesting, have cool guns and gear to discuss, or have a unique insight into the industry.
I love this answer! I think the SAME way she does. Ava could easily fall into “just another gun bunny” category if she chose too, but she stays true to herself and who she is and that to me is more attractive then the girl half naked holding a gun she has no idea how to use. Amen Ava. I have nothing but respect for you.
What’s your favorite firearm and why?
Ava : That’s a tough question. I’ve really accumulated so many over the last few years. I would have to say however, it’s a gun that belonged to my mom, a Ruger Mark II. My mom was an instructor. She used that gun when teaching. After she passed away, my dad sold a lot of my mom’s firearms. Fast-forward to about a year later, I met someone who bought my mom’s Ruger. Without any hesitation, he transferred the gun over to me. I offered to pay him for it, but he wouldn’t accept any money. About six months later I repaid him by gifting him a full-size Smith & Wesson M&P. To this day I haven’t shot my mom’s gun. I think eventually I’ll bring myself to do it. For now, I’m just happy to have it in my possession and I’m always reminded of how selfless and kind people can be when I look at it.
Since it’s throwback Thursday, and I’m going on my fifth year of owning my own firearms training business, I thought I’d share my story. In June 2012, I joined my parents to record a tv show. My parents owned a gun store and range. My mom was a firearms instructor. I had been living in NYC for the past eight years and had never shot a firearm before, even though I grew up around them. During the filming, the producers asked my mom if she would teach me how to shoot a gun. As if shooting for the first time wasn’t terrifying enough, I was doing it on camera. I shot a 9mm. To this day, I don’t remember what the make and model was. I shot very well. The camera crew kept asking if it was really my first time. After that, my dad brought out a machine gun, which is pictured here. That was a lot more terrifying to shoot lol. A few days later, I sadly lost my mom to a horrible accident. She was my world, my best friend, my mother… the pain I felt that day is still the same pain I feel today. One minute we were laughing at each other and the next the worst thing in my life happened. I moved back home to help my dad. This is when I started to learn about guns. About six to eight months in, I decided to follow in my mom’s footsteps and become an instructor. I wanted to feel closer to my mom, but I also realized how short life can be. We always think bad things won’t happen and that we’ll live forever. To this day I’d like to think I’m carrying on her legacy and making her proud. I was once the girl who couldn’t load her own gun. Now when I look in the mirror, I see my mom. 💕
Wow, that’s the best answer I ever heard to that question and probably ever will. Thank you so much Ava for sharing such a beautiful personal story with me to share with the world. What a wonderful way to end our interview.
Ava is one of those people I could talk to for hours. She truly is one of the most genuine females I know in this industry and will do anything to help other people. She stays true to who she is and has a heart of gold.
Follow @GunFunnyShow and @elitefirearmsandtraining on Instagram!
About Jessica Nyberg
Jessica Nyberg has over 15 years hunting experience and has been a firearms instructor for 8 years. She's currently the Browning Ammunition blogger for their ammo line. She was on the TV show Handguns and Defensive Weapons on the Sportsman channel for the last 4 years, where she tested and reviewed firearms and firearm accessories. Over the years, she has developed an in-depth knowledge on a wide variety of products and firearms. She can offer valuable insight into your product line. Follow Jessica on Instagram @jessica.nyberg.