Wow. So, you know those weeks where you’re like, “OMG! I can’t plan for anything. My life is a chaotic mess!”? Right. I’m having one of those weeks.
Luckily, I was able to find some time to talk to another awesome gun woman this week, so it wasn’t an entire loss. I thought that after last week’s interview with Valerie, it would take a while to find someone else who would be interested in the project and willing to be interviewed. Not so! The day I posted the interview, I was contacted by Candice and we got to talking about blogs and guns and such, and it turns out she’s awesome! And she let me interview her!
Below is our conversation in which Candice gives us some great advice about concealed carry for women, talks about her experience as an IDPA shooter and reveals how her first trip to the range unfolded..
Rebeccaguns: Tell me a little about yourself..
Candice: I’m currently trying to be a student and looking for a job to pay for my shooting expenses. I’m almost done with my B.S. In Psychology with an eye towards pursuing a Masters in History. The end goal is to be a professor of history. I grew up in Georgia in a Atlanta suburb, but moved out to California for educational and family reasons. I had to move back to Georgia due to economic difficulties. I’m an only child and I have a pet cat. I’m interested in historical board gaming, video games (the Zelda series is my favorite), trail walking, auto racing, and of course recreational shooting.
RG: How did you first become interested in owning/shooting guns? What was the initial appeal?
C: When I moved to California my partner had some guns but couldn’t shoot them due to the closing of all the local ranges and the various bans making it difficult and not really worth the hassle. When we moved to Georgia we decided to go to a local range and see if it was any better. Boy, was it ever! In short order I fired some pistols and a rifle and was hooked. It was one of the things we could do together and enjoy. It feels as if the gun becomes alive in your hands when you shoot it… like it’s a part of you. The only thing I can really compare it to is driving. There is that sense of man and machine working together and of a danger at the edges of performance which speaks to an instinctive urge in the human condition.
In short, it’s great fun!
RG: It definitely is! So, did you enjoy going to the gun range right away or did it take you some time to warm up to it?
C: I didn’t really enjoy the range itself at first. I felt intimidated and a bit frightened at all the noise. I didn’t want mess up and look bad, so there was a lot of performance anxiety. It took me a few trips to get over that. Now I don’t worry about looking bad to others; I worry about not doing my best. The very first trip to the range I shot a .22 Browning Buckmark that was so dirty we had to bump the back of it to get it to go into battery. Boy, was that fun! It was a great pistol to learn some of the basics on. It was also a great experience to clean… NOT! My first experience shooting anything bigger was shooting a Browning Hi-Power with some defensive loads. That wasn’t fun at all, and I thought about quitting shooting right there. Thankfully I didn’t, and learned the “home-brew” I shot was more powerful than just about anything any sensible person would load in 9mm. Let that be a lesson to people wanting to get someone interested in firearms: Don’t have a newbie fire defensive ammo! Get something with less recoil and muzzle flash.
RG: Amen to that! Luckily, it seems like you’ve recovered from your first experience, and now enjoy putting some rounds down range. Have you gotten into any groups or activities related to shooting?
C: I regularly attend a weekly IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) match at my favorite gun store. I got interested in competition when I watched some You Tube videos on improving one’s pistol skills and saw how good the top competitors are. I thought, “Wow! I wish I could do what they do!” I checked out a local IDPA match and met some really nice guys who had a lot of fun running the courses. Once I got my own gun and holster I started showing up for the weekly match. It’s been a real help in improving my skills and making friends. I wouldn’t find the will to keep practicing as much as I do without the need to perform better in a competitive environment.
RG: What’s the most challenging thing about shooting in your opinion?
C: In general the most challenging thing about shooting is getting the fundamentals right. By that I mean lining up the sights on the target and pulling the trigger straight back until the gun fires. It sounds simple but it takes a lot of time to master. Often people think there is some magic item that will help them shoot better when they really just need to work on their fundamentals. For me personally, it’s going slow! I love shooting fast, but “you can’t miss fast enough.” I keep reminding myself that if I can be accurate consistently I will get faster. It’s challenging to force myself to slow down, concentrate, and break a shot cleanly without thinking about how fast I can do it.
RG: Definitely. And that becomes even more important when you are considering carrying your firearm…
C: I carry a firearm less frequently than I should. Part of that has to do with my lack of a small firearm like a Walther PPS that is easy to conceal. I carry because there are situations in which I will need to defend myself or others and the best way I can do it is with my pistol. I’ve been in situations which were on the edge of getting violent, and in some bad areas of Atlanta alone at night when I felt completely defenseless. I don’t want to feel that way again.
RG: What kind of gear do you find most useful for carrying?
C: During the colder months when I first started carrying, I used a belt holster under a jacket. Now that the weather is warm I most often carry in my handbag. I use a large messenger-type bag that unfortunately doesn’t have a dedicated compartment to hold a gun. I’m hoping to find or make something more suitable. I also want to get a small pistol to carry inside the waistband, because carrying off body has a lot of disadvantages. The main one for me is that I tend to be forgetful and sometimes leave my bag unattended. It’s also much slower to access than having a gun on your person. My advice to women who carry concealed is to train with your gun and your method of carry. Do dry fire (unloaded) practice and become proficient with getting the gun out and presenting it to a target. Go to the range and develop your skills. A gun with no skill to use it is almost as bad as having no gun at all. Imagine if you had to use the gun and you hit someone innocent! That’s why you have to practice.
RG: That’s the truth. Guns aren’t some kind of good-luck charms. They’re just tools that are as effective as the person operating them. Now that we’ve established the need to practice, practice, practice with your firearm, I have to ask: which of your guns is your favorite to shoot?
C: It’s hard to pick a favorite because I got each gun for a specific purpose. I love my Sig P220 in .22 long rifle because it’s a great trainer that uses inexpensive ammo. I love my Walther PPQ because it has the best trigger of any gun I own and is the most reliable. That’s the gun I carry and use for IDPA. And I love my FNP-45 Tactical I just got because it’s a crazy cool .45 ACP gun with all kinds of neat features. If I had to pick one, it would be the Walther PPQ because it’s 100% reliable, light, has a great trigger, and fires 9mm which is my favorite cartridge.
RG: Sounds like you’re hitting all the high points. Is there a piece of gear you’d really like to add to your collection?
C: Right now I want a Dillon 550B reloading press so I can shoot a lot more!
RG: Smart and thrifty! I love the way women approach gun ownership! Are there any folks who inspire you in the gun community?
C: I look up to Caleb Giddings because he’s about my age and he became a IDPA 5 Gun Master in a short period of time. I admire Julie Golob since she’s got a great attitude and has won so many competitions. Brian Enos is a really cool guy and his insights into the “zen” of shooting have helped me a lot to work through my difficulties.
RG: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, Candice! Best of luck to you!
C: Sure! Have fun and stay safe!
If you or someone you know would like to be part of the interview project, let me know! You can email me at Phlster617@gmail.com or via Facebook at Rebeccaguns.