By Becky Dolgener, Facilitator of the Temple, TX A Girl & A Gun Chapter.
DAVILLA, TX — Women from all over the state of Texas came together June 27 and 28 to learn history, preparedness, and rifle marksmanship from the instructors at Battle Road USA. Twenty-three A Girl & A Gun members hailed from as close as Temple and as far away as Cypress and North Fort Worth, with the majority of ladies traveling from League City.
Limited to ladies only, in partnership with the League City chapter, a team of six instructors led the two-day course which walked students through safety, sighting in and adjusting optics, and various shooting positions and tips for optimal stability. Students started and ended each day with a time-limited course of fire at 25 yards, designed to simulate shooting targets at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards, as well as a 250-yard precision challenge.
Organizer Tracy Hughes of League City said she wanted to learn more about rifles and sought out a Project Appleseed date for her chapter, but couldn’t make scheduled classes work. That’s when Marsha Spurr stepped in to make the rifle class happen.
“The folks at Battle Road put on a zombie biathlon twice a year. That’s how I met them,” Spurr explained, adding that Battle Road hosts the low-cost class monthly in an effort to get more Americans to learn about rifle marksmanship. “I would recommend anyone interested in rifles to take the class. The guys are great instructors and are willing to go the extra (mile) to help one on one if you (have) problems.”
Cindy Scott of League City, the only lady to earn the distinction of “Sharpshooter Plus” at the end of day two, said, “It was my first rifle class of any kind and I learned so much. I definitely want to take more classes from Battle Road.”
So, how do you make it through a 16-hour live-fire rifle class in the heart of a Texas summer? The instructors and students have some observations and tips to help you beat the heat and escape with minimal injuries.
- Drink water starting the day BEFORE you train. Michael Adam, co-owner of Battle Road and lead instructor for the class, explained it this way: “A person sitting in the shade in 90 degree weather requires one gallon a day minimum. …If you do not drink water, your body shuttles it from secondary water bearing organs (eyes), to primary organs, heart, lungs, muscles. By the time you feel thirsty, you are in deficit. You need your eyes. The better you see, the better you shoot. Stay hydrated.”
- Take a shooting mat to protect your elbows from carpet burn.
- Wear long sleeves, even when it’s hot outside. Hot brass in prone position will find your arms, and you’ll stay cooler if your arms are covered. Also, see No. 2.
- Wear loose-fitting jeans or even yoga pants. Getting into a seated firing position is a challenge, even when your waistband isn’t cutting you in half. Go comfy!
- Learn how to sight in and adjust your own scope, and bring the directions and all tools needed to your class. Don’t let anyone else make adjustments to your rifle, and start small.
- Bring and wear plenty of bug spray. Check your mat before you lay down; fire ants attack quickly and can really mess with your accuracy.
- Opt for a wide-brimmed hat. Ball caps are better than nothing, but the more shade you bring to the party, the better. Your neck will thank you.
- Bring a chair and an umbrella or canopy. You will need rest and shade, and plenty of both, and not just for you. Cover your rifle after you’ve made it safe; safety officers will uncover to confirm open and clear, then re-cover to prevent super-heated rifle parts that brand your hands with that pretty new foregrip design.
- Use dry-fire to reinforce what you’ve learned. Adam suggested at least 25 shots a day to practice acquiring NPOA, adjusting to target, finding a natural respiratory pause, pressing the trigger slowly, and following through.
- Step outside your comfort zone. This could also be the top tip. Every single lady at the class expressed a new-found admiration for her own chutzpah in the face of hot brass, hot sun, fire ants, and hot guns.
UPDATE: As it turns out, memories of the Ladies-Only Ghosts of Goliad class are bittersweet for students and instructors. It was the last class Michael Adam ever taught. He died in a car accident two weeks later. He was 55 years old and the father of five young daughters, a veteran, a true patriot, and a dedicated teacher.
The final podcast of his Rifleman Radio show will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, August 9, and will serve as an interactive memorial service. The ladies of Michael Adam’s last Ghosts of Goliad Fundamentals of Rifle Marksmanship class offer special thanks and our deepest sympathies to Scout’s family, his business partner, Mark Martinez, and to instructors Rachel Malone and all of the excellent and patient instructors who taught us so much during those two days.