A Closer Look at the CC Holster Bags

I’ve had some requests in the past week for more information on the bags I’ve been making.  I’m only too happy to oblige, so I made a little video in which I explain more about the impetus behind making holster bags and show how they function when in use.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for design or hardware improvements.  I am particularly interested in working more on the compartment where the gun is housed.  Ideas for a quiet, quick-deploying closure system would be THE BOMB.

*Also, thanks to Armed in Stilettos for my awesome t-shirt!

Bag Lady

If I was a rapper, I would say that today I am “ballin outta control”.  Sadly, I am not a rapper so I’ll just say that I’m having an awesome day.

For the past few months, I have been working on constructing small bags for concealed carry with varying levels of success.  In the last 24 hours however, I’ve completed two that I think are pretty good examples of what I am going for.

My goals in this project are to make a bag that is versatile (that is, can be carried in multiple kinds of outfits, all year round and is compatible with various models of pistols and/or holsters), stylish and comfortable.  Too much?  I figured it was best to set the bar high and see what I could achieve, rather than compromise right out of the gate.  My ideal bag meets all of the criteria above and that’s what I wanted, so that’s what I aimed for (Yeah, I’m making shooting puns.  I can’t help myself).  Overall, it has been pretty slow going.  I haven’t been able to find a sewing pattern that is close enough to what I want to actually be useful, so I’ve been making it all up as a go, which is alternately thrilling and exasperating.  My motivation for the project is constant though, since I hate having to leave my gun at home.  More so now that we are in the hot summer months and I can’t wear the PHLster skeleton holster that I love.  (Why, you ask?  One word: chafing).

The two models of bags I am working on now are based on a kind of fanny pack platform.  They utilize a belt or a strap to fasten around the user’s waist, and then a pouch that conceals the holstered gun within.  The result: you look like you’re wearing a stylish accessory and no one suspects you are packing the heat.  Win/win.

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of how they turned out:

You can see that in the smaller, rectangular bag, the user would have to supply their own sturdy gun belt.  I like this design, however it is limited to outfits that can be worn with a belt.  I’ve found this to be difficult in a skirt or a dress.  The other option is a little more versatile since it has a built-in strap that can function as a belt or a shoulder strap.  I very much like to carry bags in a cross-body configuration, so I designed this one to be able to be easily convertible between a belt bag and a cross-body bag.  The external pocket on the back opens on two sides, allowing easy access to your firearm.  I am currently using a piece of paracord that is sewn into the bag to hold my holster in place.

I am planning on doing a follow-up post, so I can show you how they look while in use and discuss the pros and cons of the designs.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements.

Also, special thanks to Philly Art Girl for the totally awesome Luger belt buckle FTW.

You Never Forget the First Time

Monica shootsLast week I had the opportunity to take a brand new shooter to the range.   It was a surprising, terrifying, frustrating, exhilarating, transformative experience, unlike any other.  It also highlighted for me the aspects I like best about shooting and the attitudes I like least in the community.

I am a very “ducks in a row” kind of person.  Up until quite recently, I did not feel like  I was knowledgeable or competent enough to teach someone else to shoot.  Before I stepped into that role, I wanted to make sure that I could adequately explain and demonstrate all of the fundamentals of safe marksmanship, and I just wasn’t sure I was there yet.  But then I went through the NRA basic pistol class, which reinforced a lot of the skills and knowledge that I already had.  And I also began really committing to going to the range once a week and working on the basics.  These things paid off and I finally started to feel like I was in a place where I could share my love of shooting with a beginner.

On the day of the lesson,  my lovely friend was enthusiastic and eager to shoot a gun for the first time.  She definitely brought her “teachable attitude”.  We were also joined by another friend who is curious, but not quite ready to pull the trigger.  I got us targets, ammo, eyes and ears and  we set up in the lane.  As I opened my mouth to start the instruction, I realized the enormity of what I was about to try to explain.  My friend had read a few articles about gun safety online, but other than that she was entirely uninitiated.  I had thought about what I was going to say, but once we were actually there I was suddenly overwhelmed by the amount of information I felt like she absolutely NEEDED to know, and also empathetic to the anxiety and trepidation she must have been feeling.  I didn’t want to bombard her with instruction, but I wanted to make sure she knew enough to be safe and have a little fun.  So, we went over the safety rules first, which she had already memorized. (I told you she brought her A game).  Then we did grip, stance and trigger pull.  She was hitting her target almost instantly (like a boss).  Excitement quickly replaced our anxieties.  My friend seemed genuinely,  pleasantly surprised at what the experience of shooting a gun is actually like.  She  says that it is both easier and harder than she thought it would be.  I feel the same way about teaching her how to shoot.  Our other friend, who was observing, says she would like to give it a try the next time we go.  They both expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of a monthly Ladies’ Night at the range and an interest in becoming proficient shooters.  I couldn’t ask for more.  I can only hope that any other teaching experiences I have in the future are with people who are as open-minded and willing to learn as these girls.

me and Monica

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all sunshine and gunpowder.  As a group of young women alone at the range, we definitely attracted a fair amount of attention.   I usually go to the range with my husband, and I am generally left to my own devices.  Most of the employees know I am safe and competent.  Turns out though, that a group of women shooting alone inspires a lot of Advice Fairy/Fun Shark behavior.  This usually entails a dude stepping in to repeat the instruction I have just given, but in a louder voice while puffing up his chest and displaying his biceps.  Peacocking, one might say.  As a new teacher, I do appreciate help and a more experienced perspective, but I didn’t see anyone stepping in to help the girls who were there with their boyfriends or husbands.  There was a noticeable difference between the reactions our little posse garnered versus how I am treated when I am with male friends.  It felt as though we, as “unsupervised”  ladies, were deemed less competent.  On top of all that, I have a sneaking suspicion that the RSO was dying to ask me for my friend’s number.  Sigh.  I thought that’s what Match.com was for.

Fueled by both my exhilaration at my friend’s success and my irritation at being underestimated, I immediately went home and emailed a friend about getting my NRA Instructor credentials.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and this experience tipped the scales.  Lately, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of ladies getting involved in firearms, however I have not seen an increase in female instructors.  I think it is time for me to step up and put my money where my mouth is.  I want to see a change in certain perceptions and preconceived ideas in the gun community, and this is a chance to be that change.  Also, I can blog my behind off about it and that will be fun for all of us.

If you have tips about teaching or getting instructor training, please let me know in the comments.  I would be grateful for any feedback.

Wait, there’s a gun range in Manhattan??

Rachel Maddow at the gun range.

Thanks to GunMart Blog, I stumbled across this little bit of awesomesauce this morning.  It seems guns really are taking over the world, just not in the way fearful gun-control advocates think.   Firearms transcend race, gender, sexual orientation, and yes, even politics.  Seriously, if even the folks from Air America were taking field trips to the gun range in Manhattan, I feel a lot better about the future of 2nd Amendment rights in this country.  At least we can all agree that going to the gun range is a helluva lot better than yoga.

A Whole New World

You may have noticed that the site looks a little different.  There are some new categories at the top of the page that aren’t directly related to guns.  When I started RebeccaGuns, I didn’t have any intentions of turning it into a “lifestyle” blog.  I was primarily interested in documenting my experiences with firearms and the gun community.

However, as time has passed, I’ve noticed the effect that shooting has had on my attitude and approach to all kinds of things.  I think this is a phenomenon that deserves closer inspection.  So, I’m opening the blog up a little bit to include some other things that I like to do, and things that shooting has inspired and enabled me to do.  I’m hoping that the result is two fold– motivating me to do more awesome things to blog about and inspiring you guys to do all the cool things you want to do.

Expect photos, videos, guest posts by other awesome ladies,  delicious recipes (involving booze and bacon, most likely) and DIY projects.

Also, I know you all have the song from Aladdin stuck in your head now and I’m not sorry for that at all.

Catching Flies; Honey vs. Vinegar

Inspired by Fate of Destinee’s YouTube video about gender inequality in the gun world, I have decided to indulge in my own rant today.  My rant doesn’t have anything to do with being a woman, but it has everything to do with stereotyping and passing snap judgements on others.

Let me start off by telling you a little story.  This is a story about Twitter.  When I first created a Twitter account for RebeccaGuns, I was so excited to find all of the cool gun people I could follow.  There were so many of them!  And they were all into guns!  I thought I had found the happiest place ever.  And I would say, by and large, I have overwhelmingly positive interactions with other gun people on the interwebz. However, I started to notice that some days my Twitter feed was full of posts that just seem designed to put other groups of people down.  Now I’m not talking about other groups of people like the The Charles Manson Liberation Society or Proud Pedophiles of America.   I’m just talking about other groups that may practice a different religion, subscribe to an alternate political point of view or have been born some other race.  When I read these posts, I was angry.  I still am.  I’m angry because this is not an accurate representation of the gun community, and frankly, it’s often just hate mongering.  I have thought about breaking up with Twitter, so I don’t have to be so angry.  But, the thing is, there are a lot of people out there who post really interesting, informative content about firearms which I very much enjoy reading.  So instead, I just click “Unfollow” and I don’t have to be exposed to the haters hatin’ anymore.  Problem solved.  If only there were such a thing in real life.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  If you are into being a Republican or a Democrat, or believing in Jesus Christ or the Prophet Muhammad, I think that is excellent.  It’s good to be passionate about the things you believe in.  But there is absolutely no reason to use your gun related social media platforms to bash opposing points of view.

Let me suggest that it might behoove us all to remember why we own guns in the first place.  My understanding is that we are a community of people who believe that all of our citizens have the right to defend themselves and their families, regardless of race, politics, sexual orientation or religion.  And this right is what keeps us free.  If we belittle and blame others who don’t agree with all of the same things we believe, we are undermining the very spirit of the principals that allow us to own guns in the first place.

Pejorative statements about “others” erode solidarity within the community, as well as paint us in a pretty unflattering light to the rest of the world.  I believe that the more folks we can get involved in the shooting sports, and interested in concealed carry, the safer our country will be, both from criminals and those in power who seek to exploit and manipulate the masses.  And from my vantage point, it seems like we are well on the way to having a diverse and rapidly expanding firearms community.  So NOW IS THE TIME to leave behind all of those antiquated ideas about which political party or religion is most worthy of gun ownership.  Because we all are.  Every last able-bodied, sound-minded one of us is entitled by the Constitution to the right to bear arms.  The more of us there are, the harder it will be for Congress or the President to push us around.

So let’s open our arms to the liberals, vegans, Muslims, Jews, blacks, Latinos, gays, women, etc, etc.  Because this is how we grow.  This is how we evolve.  This is how we make sure that our country doesn’t fall apart around us.  If we are too busy quibbling amongst ourselves over superficial differences, we will miss this opportunity to strengthen our numbers and come together as a group who welcomes all freedom-loving individuals.

Some Greatest Hits; So Far.

I was going through the photo library on my computer recently, and realized that I now have about 18 months worth of photos that have never been used.  One of the best things about owning guns is how photogenic they are.  Sexy things–you really can’t help but ogle them.  So, I put together a little excerpt from my visual diary from the past two years.  Hope you guys enjoy them and trust, there will be more to come..

Knives and Why You NEED One.

I was initially reluctant to carry a pocket knife.  I can’t remember what my reasons for resisting this now indispensable tool were at the time, though I am sure they were unimpeachable.   I am always so right until I am totally wrong.  My knife has become a staple every day carry item for me.  It’s the kind of thing that I feel naked without.  If I forget it at home, I will inevitably spend all day reaching for it, coming away empty-handed and sighing dramatically at my own impotence.  Recently my five year old niece asked me, “Aunt Bec, why do you have that knife in your pocket??”.  To which I replied,  “Sweet Pea, how else am I going to open all of those bullet-proof, Kevlar-wrapped toy and candy packages you are constantly thrusting at me?”.  We had a brief debate about the merits of using one’s teeth is such situations, but my logic won out in the end.  Turns out five year olds have short attention spans.

My first knife was a Kershaw Chill.  I worked at a bakery at the time and it was so convenient to be able to open big bags of flour or huge tubs of fondant without having to track down or wipe off some sharp implement to use.  Then I started leaving the knife in my pocket after work when I was cooking dinner.  I was always finding things that needed to be opened or cut apart or in some other way separated or dislodged.   Soon after I started taking it with me when I went shopping, so if I bought something with a pesky tag or stubborn package I could readily free my purchase.  In short, I quickly realized that it was incredibly useful to carry a knife every day.  And while I’m no expert in knife combat skills, it does give me a modicum of security when I can’t carry my gun that, at the very least, I have a sharp knife if things go sideways.

I have since upgraded to a Kershaw Chive which I love more than I thought I could possibly love a pocket knife.  The Speed-Safe assisted opening device is awesome.  It saves you from having to flick the knife forward to release the blade, potentially in an unsafe direction.  With the Speed-Safe, you can just point the knife in a safe direction and press the auto-release lever and BOOM! Now you are ready for some things.  It’s also a really good weight, just under 2 ounces, substantial without being clumsy, and it’s a nice size for smaller lady hands.  Additionally, I love a well-designed stainless steel gadget.  Really looks like you mean business.

So a couple of quicks points to consider if you are hesitant to carry a knife:

1.) My knife is VERY sharp and I have never cut myself with it, even with the assisted opening feature. That’s actually the benefit of keeping it so sharp–it cuts what you want it to and not what you don’t.

2.) Keeping a knife in my back pocket is in no way uncomfortable or conspicuous in lady clothes.  And it is way easier than trying to conceal a gun.

3.) Most people don’t even notice that I have a knife until I pull it out of my pocket.  Sometimes there is oohing and ahhing about the fact that I am carrying a knife, but most people are pretty cool about it.

4.) My knife has never jumped out of my pocket and stabbed anyone including pets, small children or old ladies.  In fact, it’s quite useful for cutting bits of yarn for my cat to play with, opening crayon boxes for kids and getting that old lady to stop harassing you about raking your leaves.  Kidding! Old ladies are nice.

5.) Even though you probably can’t think of a single thing you’d use a knife for now, you will find a million uses for it once you start carrying it.  Seriously, it will become as indispensable to you as your lip gloss and your smart phone.  One caveat– don’t forget to take your knife out of your pocket before you go to the airport.  Sadly, I have lost a few Swiss Army knives this way.  It is always very frustrating.

In closing, you need a knife.  You just don’t know it yet. But that’s ok, because when you finally get around to getting one and carrying it everyday and it changes the course of your life forever, I won’t even say, “I told you so”.