This is the first installment in a project that I’ve been wanting to start since I first got into guns.  At the beginning, I found it very hard to make friends in the gun community, mostly because there just weren’t very many other girls to make friends with.  I also struggled with talking to my existing friends and family about guns, as it can be a tricky topic to bring up around non-shooters.  So, I came up with the idea of interviewing other young women who are into guns and shooting, both as a way to broaden popular perception of female gun owners and also, selfishly, as a way for me to get to make more gun-loving lady-friends.  And I finally found someone to interview!

So, this week I’m talking to Valerie who I met at the local range with her lovely husband and her lovely collection of badass guns.   We bonded over a mutual love of cooking, eating and 1911s.  Check out the Sig P238 she’s wearing while making dinner in the photo below.  Yeah, girl.

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RebeccaGuns: Tell me a little about yourself…

Valerie: I am originally from Northern California but I have spent most of my life here on the east coast. I currently live in Philadelphia with my husband and three dogs and I work for a Center City law firm. These days my life outside of work consists of going to school, training for the Broad Street Run, going to the shooting range at least twice a week and most importantly spending time with friends and family. I also have an intense passion for food and try to cook as often as my ridiculous schedule allows me to. Consequently, I have recently discovered Pure Barre, Lithe Method, and Body Logic to counteract the results of my love for cooking.

RG:  How did you first become interested in learning to shoot?

V:  My father used to take me shooting when I was little but I was so young that I can barely remember how old I was when it started. It wasn’t until this time last year that I actually picked up a gun and became serious about learning to shoot.

RG:  Did you enjoy going to the gun range right away or did it take you some time to warm up to it?

V:  Because of my upbringing, I took to shooting quite naturally despite years of not even touching guns. My husband and I talked about buying a gun for home defense for quite some time, and I was a little nervous about the idea of it. Once we finally decided to purchase one, any reservations I may have had vanished the moment I held one again (I still think I sound like a depraved lunatic when I try to describe the feeling I get from gun shopping).

RG:  What do you see as the challenges women face in successfully incorporating themselves into the gun world?

V:  Unfortunately, someone along the way decided that shooting was a “man thing” and it caught on. I personally think it is pure nonsense, but I still encounter people (men) at gun shows and shooting ranges that choose to perpetuate this outdated viewpoint. There is also the challenge of living in a city where the majority of the population is anti-gun. At one point, when I was younger and more susceptible to societal pressures, I was against owning a gun because I was going along with what I thought was “right” rather than being true to myself. Over time I have grown to accept that people are going to judge me no matter what I do. Furthermore, I am always going to face opposition from both the sexist old men at gun shows as well as my gun hating friends. The best I can do is to respect everyone’s right to have their own opinion and hope that people have the decency to do the same for me.

RG:  How many guns do you currently have in your collection?

V:  At this time, I have three handguns that are mine (not my husband’s): a Sig 1911 compact stainless (.45), a Sig SP2022 (.40 S&W), and a Ruger LCP that has become the stepchild of our collection because I only carry it when I can’t carry the p238 or my 1911. We collectively have six handguns, an AR and a Remington 870. I love to shoot all of them.

My favorite gun is my beloved 1911. The officer sized frame fits my hand perfectly and so far it’s been pretty reliable. It’s accurate and just plain fun to shoot. The 4.25” barrel doesn’t allow me to carry regularly, but I make it work whenever I can because it is the gun I with which I am most comfortable and proficient.

RG:  What is at the top of your gun wish list right now?

V:  Lately, I have been shopping around for a rifle. I don’t have a great deal of experience with them so I am not sure exactly what to look for. I don’t hunt, nor do I care to – I simply want it for target practice and expand my skill set.

RG:  Do you find that having an interest in firearms impacts or informs any other part of your life?

V: If anything, it has given me a heightened sense of awareness in terms of my personal safety and surroundings. In my opinion, owning and carrying a gun comes with the added responsibilities of understanding the fundamentals of gun safety and maintaining a certain level of proficiency.

RG:  Do you concealed carry on a regular basis?

V:  Whether or not I carry depends on where I happen to go that day since there are certain places that I am not legally permitted to do so. When I do, I use whatever works. It helps to have a collection of holsters. I especially like my custom kydex holsters (PHLster). I avoid using my purse because it is not attached to me. If I ever use a bag, it is a bag that is specifically meant for concealed carry; it is on me at all times and either attached in some way or slung across my body so as not to be easily taken by the local purse-snatchers that are so common in my neighborhood. I recently ordered the Tactical Messenger Bag (Fox Tactical) to use while walking around the city or walking the dogs at night.

RG:  What are your favorite firearms-related resources on the web?

V: There are a lot of great resources out there for people interested in guns. The most important research any potential gun-owner can do is to study the firearms code for their state of residence (Uniform Firearms Act for PA residents:http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/18/00.061..HTM). Also, check your city’s code for statutes related to firearms.

In terms of resources specifically geared toward women, I have spent time on cornered-cat.com, girlsguidetoguns.com, and rebeccaguns of course! I am always looking for more to add to the list.

RG:  If you had a time machine and could visit any time, and shoot any gun with anyone, where would you go and what would you do?

V:  I always had an interest in the individual stories of female Red Army sharpshooters from WWII, especially Lyudmila Pavlichenko.

RG:  That’s awesome!  Thank you so much for your time, Valerie!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading about Valerie and her experiences in the gun world.  If you or a lady you know is interested in being interviewed, or you have some suggestions for the interview project, please comment below or email me at phlster617@gmail.com.

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