Black Oak Training Speaks to Women Students
This page presents a few words primarily for our female students, although male students are welcome to use the information (particularly if you're the husband or father of a shooter).
First, be aware that there's no gender difference with regard to CCW qualification. Once you qualify, though, women may have some additional considerations. The first practical issue is how to incorporate a carry gun into your daily life. We put this first because it may impact some of your pre-class purchase choices.
What you choose to wear is directly related to the type of holster you plan to use for typical carry situations. The hip holster is required for class, yes, but have you worn one on a daily basis? An estimated 12 percent of law-enforcement jobs are held by women these days (click here for source) and many of these women wear hip holsters as part of their work. Most would tell you that you do what you have to for the job, but that the concealment requirement can make things a little more tricky.
Here's where wardrobe plays a role. A paddle holster requires a constructed, reinforced pants waistline and possibly (depending on your choice of firearm) a sturdy belt as well: not everyone's go-to fashion choice. Belt holsters require only that sturdy belt, but its sturdiness and width are key. A fashion belt won't work here.
Fair disclosure here: the writer, a woman, has never used a shoulder or ankle holster. Both are said to be comfortable when well-fitted but, like carry purses, can result in a slower draw. When using a shoulder holster, ankle holster, or carry purse you may need to up-tick your normal level of peaceful watchfulness in order to keep surprises to a minimum.
About those carry purses (which might equally well be deemed carry "male bags"): think of them as another type of holster, one that additionally carries items you otherwise would place in a purse. That "pack it" aspect can make them quite heavy. They're also somewhat less secure because purses can be targets for theft, regardless of what's concealed in any central pocket. Some have been known to modify their shoulder-bag carry purses in order to forestall attempts to cut through the strap. (For example, you might ask a shoe-repair shop to replace a simple shoulder strap with one made of denser material. If the strap is a sewn one, consisting of two long, narrow pieces with air space between, you might thread lightweight aluminum aircraft cable the length of the strap.) Such changes are almost always after market and therefore involve additional cost, unless you're into DIY.
On the other hand, carry purses are convenient and permit greater wardrobe flexibility, thereby contributing to your ability to be discrete about having a CCW.
If you decide to use a carry purse, keep in mind that a gun compartment with a zipper closure opens more quietly than than one with a Velcro(c) closure. Velcro also generally takes both hands to open. Keep in mind, too, that different purses are better suited to different sizes and lengths of firearms.
Any body-based holster option requires that you wear a concealment garment over all, regardless of gender. A concealment garment must conceal your firearm. This means that it has to be sufficiently long and opaque to cover, and sufficiently heavy that it won't move and disclose, your firearm. It also has to be sufficiently stiff that your firearm won't "print" (be evident by contour) through the fabric. A concealment garment, therefore, cannot a) be translucent, b) drape too softly, or c) waft too lightly on the air. Those attributes can make for a lovely, feminine outfit but simply are not practical during concealed carry with a body-based holster.
You can find plenty of merchandisers of concealment garments for both men and women online.
Practice, practice, practice!
The choice is entirely yours, but whatever your preferred carry method remember that you should practice drawing from it deliberately and often in order to develop good habits. Black Oak can provide training and supervised practice in effective drawing from different kinds of holsters and carry purses. These sessions are separate from your CCW class.
Range Work: Specific Issues for Women
Here are a few tips for women doing range work in general:
No low-cut necklines. The brass cartridge forcefully ejected to the right by the gun of the person on your left is literally "flying brass," and is quite hot. You'd be surprised how often it can strike you in the head (one reason vision protection is required) or neck. From there it often can roll down into your shirt. Black Oak instructors will demonstrate how to safely deal with a burning-hot brass cartridge that has gotten between your shirt and skin. Meanwhile, give yourself every opportunity to avoid those small, rectangular burns by wearing a high collar.
No lipstick or gloss. Gunshot residue (GSR) is a hot powder of inorganic and organic compounds released with every shot. The primary component of GSR is lead; sometimes there's barium, antimony, and copper. None of these support good health when ingested as GSR. Don't provide a place for GSR to collect: save the 'stick for after you clean up.
Speaking of GSR: stay away from the range if you're pregnant. Most ranges have specific rules about this.
Consider wearing clothes that you can change before leaving the range without needing privacy to do so. For example, you might wear a big shirt over your regular clothes. Doing so both provides the high collar mentioned earlier and lets you shed GSR-saturated outer wear without a lot of trouble. Consider wearing a pair of baggy, oversized pants over your own pants. (A working gun range is not a fashion show.) Many people also make use of "range shoes," which are nothing more specialized than an old pair of sneakers that you wear only at the range. Consider wearing a washable hat or large bandana over your hair. When you're done shooting, put dirtied range gear into a sealable plastic bag to avoid contaminating the inside of your car. Then clean everything in the bag as soon as possible.
Black Oak is a school. Our website cannot exhaustively list or examine the dozens of issues of interest to women with regard to getting a CCW; we expect you to have done that research before signing up. That said, however, here are some links that you may find useful. Each one offers a wealth of additional information through further links.
Women & Guns Magazine: http://www.womenshooters.com/. This magazine is sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation, which has the following mission statement: "The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is dedicated to promoting a better understanding about our Constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms. To that end, we carry on many educational and legal action programs designed to better inform the public about the gun control debate." Their Links page, in particular, offers a wealth of information.
AWARE (Arming Women Against Rape & Endangerment): aware.org/. AWARE's mission is to educate the public, organizations, and individuals about issues related to personal safety. AWARE is a source of training, information, and support for people, primarily women, learning how to cope with violence. AWARE training is focused on self-protection and self-defense skills that can enable women to avoid, resist, and survive situations ranging from low levels of aggression to extremely violent assault.
AWSDA - American Women's Self Defense Association: awsda.org/. AWSDA is an international, non-profit, educational organization, dedicate to ending violence against woman by providing training programs for instructors and services for women, designed to increase their education of self defense and rape prevention.
Ammo.com offers A Woman's Self-Defense Guide to Concealed Carry: ammo.com/articles/womans-self-defense-guide-concealed-carry). This covers everything from firearm purchase considerations, how to shop for gun classes, and options for women's concealed carry and self defense tips. Consider them as a source of ammo, too.
Be safe out there.