— — You can’t handle a firearm with mittens. I learned this on a cold, windy Saturday morning. Waiting for my turn to target practice, I knew I would eventually have to take off my warm mittens in order to grip the gun. I stepped up beside the instructor and proceeded to follow his instructions. I aimed the gun at the cardboard sign. My cold fingers rested on the handle. It was the first time I had fired a gun. The target practice was part of a four-hour concealed weapon class for local residents. I spent the first part of the day in a make-shift classroom, learning about firearms. The last 20 minutes was spent in a frozen field near the race track.
The instructors and the rest of the small class couldn’t believe I had never touched or fired a gun until that Saturday morning. They wanted to know where I was from. Did I look like a city girl? Or was it my lack of knowledge about guns? In the two Virginias, many young females are exposed to firearms through hobbies like hunting and target practice in an open field. Honestly, my family had other hobbies. The men were more interested in working outside or taking apart vehicles and putting them back together like puzzles. I stayed around the basketball goal or inside with mom, hovering around the kitchen. Firearms were not displayed or brought out of their hiding places.
Which makes one wonder how I ended up in that frozen field aiming at a cardboard sign. It was time. I am not a city girl but a southern West Virginia woman with a right to learn how to use a firearm. Always the reporter, I was also interested to see how many other women would attend the class. I wasn’t the only female in the class, nor the youngest. There was a wide range of women — from young females in their 20s to older women who talked about their grandkids.