Detroit, Michigan – -(AmmoLand.com)- Firearm instructors and range safety officers from across the state of Michigan, along with a cadre of counterparts from 13 other states, recently came together at the end of July to give free shooting lessons to 1,222 Detroit-area women. The annual program, now in its eleventh year of continuous operation, was the brainchild of Rick Ector. Ector is a National Rifle Association (NRA) appointed Training Counselor and credentialed Chief Range Safety Officer (CRSO).
Ector launched the program after watching a local news story in 2012 in which it was disclosed that a local woman was brutally attacked, raped, and murdered. Ector convinced a handful of fellow local firearm trainers to join him in providing free shooting lessons for women. The first iteration of this annual program, publicized solely via social media posts, trained just 50 women. It should be noted that many social media sites would not allow some events, such as this one, to use promoted posts to reach users. Teaching women how to shoot is too controversial.
Over the last 11 years, the program has experienced steady growth. Last year, the program trained more than 1,000 women. The current all-time high water mark for popularity occurred in 2020 when almost 2,000 women were trained in fundamental firearm safety, given a range safety briefing, and were given a free 20 round shooting lesson with a 9mm pistol in a two day window. 2020 was an anomaly and the program is over-all steadily growing in popularity. The all-time tally of total women trained in the program now exceeds 7,400.
In addition, the annual training program for women is gaining national attention. As a result, firearm trainers from the following states donated their time to this year’s event: CA, CT, GA, IL, IN, KY, MA, NC, OH, PA, SD, TN, and TX. States represented by visiting instructors participating in the annual program modestly grew from eleven states last year to a total of 13 states this year. Ector hopes that his program is used as a model for expanding firearms education to interested women all over the United States and that instructors from more states come to the Detroit area to participate next year.
An event of this size and scope depends heavily upon the generosity of organizational and commercial donors. The following entities were instrumental in making this year’s event a success.
Please feel free to contact them and voice your support for their contributions to this annual free firearm training program for women:
- Gun Owners of America (GOA) continued their perpetual support of this program by equipping the event with 8,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition and 1,000 bottles of water.
- Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners (MCRGO) and the MCRGO Legal Foundation have been huge supporters of this event. We have been able to meet the bulk of our ammunition training needs with their valued support. Many women have learned a skill that could possibly one day save a life. MCRGO and the MCRGO Foundation are valued supporters.
- Top Gun Shooting Sports of Taylor, MI provided free use of its gun range and meeting rooms for two days. It also provided free use of 9mm pistols for women to use during their training. Furthermore, it also catered food and refreshments for event volunteers during the entire weekend event on its premises.
- Recoil Firearms of Taylor, MI provided free use of its gun range and meeting rooms for two days.
- American Tool and Engraving (ATEi) of Taylor, MI provided free use of its 9mm pistols for women to use during their training on the Recoil Firearms premises..
- Firearms Legal Protection (FLP) provided catered food and refreshments for event volunteers during the entire weekend event on the Recoil Firearms premises.
- National Rifle Association/Institute Legislative Action donated 1,000 pairs of shooting glasses, assisted with promoting the event, and made a financial contribution.
Erich Pratt of the GOA shares why he supports the annual free shooting event in Detroit: “The Gun Owners of America has been grateful to help sponsor the ladies shooting event in Detroit for several years. Rick Ector’s team of firearm instructors are helping to train women to feel confident and empowered in how to use a gun – a tool which represents their very best means of self-defense. We live in dangerous times, and many cities around the country are experiencing record-breaking violence. But that’s why Rick’s efforts are so important. He is helping to take away the “Fear Factor” for thousands of women. This important work, and it’s why the GOA helps sponsor this event every year.”
In addition, Chris Cheng, a winner of the History’s Channel “Top Shot” shooting competition chimed in to explain why he came to Detroit as the following, “I flew all the way from California to see Rick’s event because I’ve heard so many great things about it over the years. I look forward to returning and also thinking about how we could replicate Rick’s success across the country. We sure could use more free training events like this for new shooters to help continue building our ranks.”
Paradoxically, some volunteer instructors receive a benefit as great as the participants.
Volunteer firearm trainer Amanda Suffecool shared the following, “The DC Project is in its second year of supporting the “Ladies Shooting Event.” We are happy to bring a contingent of instructors and range safety officers to help. We know that education is the key for gun safety and personal safety and opportunities like this offer both at the same time. The ‘DC Project – Women For Gun Rights’ believes in ‘Education – Not Legislation’ and sees this opportunity to help as getting to the heart of the issue.”
Yet still, a student at the event demonstrated her attraction for the program by her continual participation. Nora Carte gave her feedback: “I never handled a firearm prior to attending my first event in 2015. After attending the following year, I got my CPL (Concealed Pistol License). This time was my seventh straight year attending this event. As a woman, this is an empowering event that I look forward to yearly, and I will continue to encourage all women to attend, especially those who have never handled a firearm before because at one time, that was me.”
Furthermore, Keisha Ezell, an actual participant at this year’s event, was willing to be quoted about the program, “Hi. My name is Keisha and this is my second year attending the LAID free ladies annual event. I participated this year so that my 16 and 19 year old daughters could learn about gun safety and how to shoot a firearm properly. This was their first time at a gun range. My mom and my 23-year-old daughter also attended for the second time. We always enjoy this event and make it a “girl’s day out.” We appreciate all of the instructors and the knowledge they shared with us. We look forward to attending next year and telling others.”
Moreover, conducting a firearm training event of this size requires an adequate number of credentialed instructors and range safety officers to ensure proper training and safety.
Safety is always a priority at this event.
Running a large event requires a lot of qualified personnel. The shooting program is indebted to the following trainers, range safety officers, and staff who logged numerous hours over a full weekend to keep beginning women shooters safe while learning the fundamentals of marksmanship: Rick Adams (MI), Dew Alten (MI), Shameka Ambrose (IL), Donna Arrasate (IL), Lori Blackwell (IL), Pavel Blinderman (KY), Adam Bradford (TN), Mallory Brake (MI), Darnell Brock (MI), Kory Brooks (IL), Monique Brooks (MI), Rob Campbell (OH), Tyler Capp (MI), Brooke Cheney (CT), Chris Cheng (CA), Aaron Cobb (MI), Patrick Collins (GA), Charlie Cook (MA), Don Coursey (MI), Janet Coursey (MI), Antonia Okafor Cover (TX), David G. Coy (MI), Goldie Cross (TN), Audree Danielson (MI), Jennifer DeVitto (IL), Joe Eaton (OH), Dr. John Edeen (TX), Mandi Ehler (IL), Chris Erickson (GA), Rhonda Ezell (IL), Dwayne Flees (MI), McKinzie Flees (MI), Stacey Flees (MI), Trevor Flees (MI), Glenn Gadie (MI), Aimee Garcia (MI), Mark Haaseth (MI), Mark Harrop (MI), Jermaine Hart (MI), Jamie Wilson Headley (MI), Bryon Hill (MI), CJ Chasefu Jacobs (MI), Johnnie Johnson (MI), Bill Karczewski (MI), Drew Killbourn (MI), Chad King (MI), Dan Korzeniewski (MI), Paul Lathrop (SD), Nick Laurino (IN), Amy Lucas (MI), Will Luker (MI), Dana Lupher (MI), Andre Macon (MI), Scott Marcott (MI), Raymond Massenberg (MI), Cornelius Washington Meeks (MI), Josh Milanovich (MI), Tanisha Moner (MI), Jose Morales (PA), Ted Nelson (MI), Marlo Odus (MI), Ross Palmer (MI), Courtney Orange Parker (NC), Abby Petticord (OH), Candy Petticord (OH), Jim Petticord (OH), Michael Petticord (OH), Leonard Quinn (MI), Almita Reeves (MI), JR Robinson (MI), Jim Ryan (MI), Kenyatta Ali Sabir (MI), Charles Lebron Simmons III (MI), Charles Lebron Simmons IV (MI), Richard Spight (MI), Jo Staats (TN), Amanda Suffecool (OH), Steven Taylor (MI), Wayne Thomas (MI), Ron Tiller (MI), Tamika Tilley (MI), Steve Washington (MI)
Instructors who served as Chief Training Officers or Chief Range Safety Officers are listed as the following: Audree Danielson (MI), Amy Lucas (MI), Will Luker (MI), Raymond Massenberg (MI), Tanisha Moner (MI), and Margie Walden (MI).
Special recognition is afforded to Tanisha Moner for recruiting, assigning, and facilitating instructors as a Site Manager. She shares her thoughts on the free shooting event for women as the following:
“I’ve been with this event for nine years and watching the growth over time has been phenomenal. There have been changes, but some things have remained consistent – the empowering of women and the joy I feel every time I see the beaming smile on a new shooter’s face. There’s nothing like it and I’m excited to see where the event goes next year and beyond. I’m proud to have been a part of something so much bigger than any one of us. Rick has truly created something special.”
In closing, another year has seen yet another successful program iteration.
Program creator Rick Ector offers his final words about this year’s event: “I love to see that many women are interested in taking on a more active role in their personal safety. I am further encouraged that people at every level in the gun rights education movement was willing to come to Detroit to participate, including NRA 1rst Vice-President Willes Lee and NRA 2nd Vice-President David Coy. It is a true team effort and we are in this effort together.”
To learn more about this event, feel free to contact Rick Ector via the following online venues: