Michelle Pickett’s entry into the world of firearms began like so many women we know. She was scared to death of guns. She had children and believed the old societal myth that guns are bad, no one should have guns in the house, especially if they have children.
Now facilitator of the Gainesville, Florida chapter of A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League (AG & AG), Pickett explains her transformation.
When she met her husband, he and his brother owned a local gun shop (Pickett Weaponry), and he wanted her to learn about guns as well. “I was scared to death but he was gracious and kind,” she reminisces. That was over 20 years ago.
Then about 15 years ago, Pickett was sitting in on a class her husband was teaching, and when she looked at the faces of some of the women there she realized they had questions, but didn’t want to ask them. As she moved out onto the range with them and started helping them they got more comfortable. “That’s when I realized I needed to start a ladies only class,” she says.
Pickett originally started her group, called “Girls and Guns,” through their local Wild Turkey Federation. “Outback Steakhouse donated all the food, we [the gun store] donated all the guns and equipment needed. We charged $15 to participate and then all the proceeds went to different gun groups,” she explains
The ladies then joined another women’s group but decided it wasn’t a good fit for them. Then they found out about AG & AG and moved to it. Pickett explains why. “I love that AG & AG puts their heart and soul into it. They care about every individual person. You can see it in their face and in the way they are. What you do is more important than what you say.”
Now with a chapter of about 94 women and eight A-Team (facilitator’s team of assistants) members, Pickett mainly trains women for self-defense. “I bring in great instructors every other month to talk to ladies or train with them,” Pickett explains.
Many in her chapter are already planning to go to A Girl & A Gun Conference next April in Texas. “A couple of us went to conference first to check it out and find out what it was. I don’t like to send people to something without knowing more about it. And I fell in love with it,” Pickett beams. This year nine members attended, and the group has already reserved a house for next years’ conference. She’s also excited that she and several of her members will be going to the Rangemaster Tactical Conference training in New Orleans in March of 2019,
While she doesn’t teach about competing, there are members who attend competitions, including one who attended AG & AG Fall Festival in Kentucky and will be speaking to the group about it. “We want ladies to start attending more competitions, to get outside of what we do,” she explains.
Often times when talking with women about joining AG & AG, Pickett says women will respond, “I’m not sure, I’m not good with big groups of women.” That’s understandable as so many women remember the “mean girls” from high school. “But I tell them, “It’s not what you think, it’s very different.” When we get together, everyone is on the same playing field. You’re as good as the person next to you. Even the pro shooters are sweet and gracious to everyone.”
“Just try it. Jump in with both feet and try it,” advises Pickett. “Be adventurous. It will make a world of difference in your life, emotionally and personally. It’s amazing.”