Detroit, Michigan – -(AmmoLand.com)- Gun rights advocates, from several different organizations, worked together this past weekend on May 19th to train over 800 women how to safely and accurately operate handguns. The program, now in its eighth year, supplied everything that a new firearm operator would need to participate without cost. All training, firearms, range time, and ammunition were donated by sponsors. The event is permanently scheduled to run every year on the first Sunday after Mother’s Day.
The program was launched in 2012 when Rick Ector, a Detroit resident and founder of “Legally Armed In Detroit (LAID),” saw a disturbing news report of a woman’s body being discovered in a deserted field. The story haunted Ector, who felt that something should be done to empower women to protect themselves. He talked to several fellow firearm trainers who were willing to donate their time and expertise. In addition, a local range was willing to donate the needed range space and range time to conduct the program. Ector supplied the firearms and ammunition. The program successfully introduced 50 women to firearm safety and the skills needed to accurately operate a 9mm caliber semi-automatic handgun.
This year’s event, now in its eighth iteration, successfully introduced 814 women to the field of shooting. Enrolled participants ranged in age from 12 all the way up to 76. All student participants arrived at the Top Gun Shooting Sports range in Taylor, MI at their scheduled time. Their range time and the needed meeting space was provided free of charge by the owners of the range.
All participants in the program were first subjected to one of ten scheduled safety briefings led by Ms. Tanisha Moner, a National Rifle Association (NRA) credentialed firearm trainer and NRA Chief Range Safety Officer (CRSO). Moner has now served this event, in this role for her third consecutive year. She taught the women students the fundamentals of safe gun handling and marksmanship. The program uses Moner as its “public face” to provide encouragement and to instill confidence in the attendees. She was assisted with the classroom training by the following NRA certified trainers: Mr. Rick Adams and Mr. Kenyatta Sabir.
Moner relishes her role as the public face of the event for the women participants. She shares her perspective on what it is like to have a front row seat of the transformation that occurs within the women, “I read their faces when they come into the briefing. Some are anxious and fearing the unknown but others are exited and ready to get started. However, they are all attentive and fully appreciate what it takes to put on an event of this caliber. I can see their faces brighten as they’re empowered with the basics of firearm safety. Finally, I see them after their respective shooting experiences and I see confirmation of what I promised them – nobody leaves the gun range without smiling. That exact moment is priceless.”
After the range safety briefings, the following sponsors addressed the students: Mr. Erich Pratt (Gun Owners of America), Mr. Terry L. Johnson (Firearms Legal), Mr. Rick Ector (LAID), and Mr. Matt Peczynski (Top Gun Shooting Sports). Each student at the event was given a free baseball cap with the GOA logo and entered into either a free drawing for one Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL) class by Top Gun Shooting Sports or drawings for one of two CPL classes offered by LAID.
The students were then led by event volunteers to the shooting lanes, after being supplied with mandatory safety glasses and hearing protection. Each student was trained how to shoot via one-on-one instruction. There were over 60 firearm instructors who donated their time for this event. For brevity, most of them represented the following organizations: Black Bottom Gun Club (BBGC), Legally Armed In Detroit (LAID), Michigan Gun Owners (MGO), Michigan Open Carry (MOC), National African American Gun Association (NAAGA), National Rifle Association (NRA), United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), and other independent groups and persons. The Chief Range Safety Officers for the range were Mr. Ross Palmer (NRA CRSO) and Mr. Joel Fulton (NRA CRSO).
Moreover, this event was also staffed by two firearm trainers who travelled to metro-Detroit from out of state to train students: Mr. Patrick Collins (GA) and Mr. John S. Olesinki (ILL). For example, Collins explained why he traveled from Atlanta to volunteer at this year’s event, “I flew to Detroit to help impact nearly 1,000 random lives. When I was told about this event to empower women, I could not refuse.”
In addition, Mr. John Olesinski from Illinois who not only volunteered at last year’s event but also came back this year to reprise this support, had the following to say, “I traveled from Lindenhurst (ILL) to go to the Detroit suburb of Taylor for the free women’s shooting event. I am honored that Rick invited me to be a volunteer instructor to teach women who never handled a firearm or have little knowledge and experience in safely handling a semi-automatic pistol. I’m looking forward to doing this event again.”
The women shooters executed the designated “course of fire” using firearms that were donated by Douglas Holloway of ATEi. The 9mm ammo for this event was donated by the following groups with the quantities of cartridges specified: Fenix Ammunition (7,000), MGO (5,000), Freedom Firearms (2,000), Michigan Ammo (2,000), MOC (2,000), Skip Coryell (1,000), and other donors who made contributions of smaller quantities. The aforementioned supplies were absolutely crucial to the success of this year’s event and will provide a head-start supply for next year’s event.
After shooting at the range, the women participants were observed to be in excellent spirits. Smiles were present on the faces of all. Many took to social media and proudly posted pictures of their target silhouettes on the Facebook event page for this event and on their personal pages. All shooters left the range with smiles and “punched” paper.
Rick Ector, founder of this annual shooting event, was proud of what was accomplished at the event. He said, “I feel very good about what we have done today. We have empowered women with an experience that could translate into them learning more about firearms and their role in personal protection. I am very proud of every woman that attended this event. Furthermore, I am even more elated by just one statistic – not the total number of women trained but by the number of injuries. There were zero injuries of any kind on this day. We did a good thing today. I am proud.”
Firearm instructors who would like to donate their time at next year’s event are invited to “like” Ector’s page on Facebook: Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit. Organizations and individuals wishing to sponsor this event next year are invited to contact Ector at email address [email protected] or call phone number (313) 733-7404.