Toledo Blade reporter Elena Saavedra Buckley recently visited a monthly meeting of the Maumee chapter of the Armed Ladies shooting club. The club meets monthly at the Henry County Sportsman Club, a shooting range near Liberty Center, Ohio.
Much of the article centers around Tammi Erdman, an NRA-certified instructor who leads the group.
From the article:
Tammi Erdman was raised believing no one should go into the southwest Florida Everglades without a firearm.
At her father’s house where she grew up, the nearest neighbor, who was once robbed and shot in his home, lived 15 miles away. Her mother cautioned her with stories of corpses being used to smuggle cocaine. As Ms. Erdman tells it, there’s nowhere to go in a bad situation, and, if you do get somewhere, nobody to help. She said the area is “the perfect place to get robbed.”
As an adult, Ms. Erdman is a firearms expert. She’s been an NRA instructor in Holland for three years, and she’s the Maumee chapter leader of the national Armed Lady shooting club. In the Everglades, Ms. Erdman would say it’s one’s responsibility to be “Armed. Confident. Prepared.” — which is the motto of the Armed Ladies. Now, she teaches people how.
“What I say goes,” she says about the range. “If you’re acting like a fool, I will kick you off of it.” Her belt holds a handgun, two spare magazines, multiple knives, and a pair of camo cargo pants. Her shirt, which she says she would never wear in public, reads “Girls With Guns” in rhinestones. (But it’s blue, not pink — she hates pink.)
Most importantly, the other women — seven at a recent session — trust Ms. Erdman. They stand in a circle around her as she explains the drill they’ll start out with: It’s called the 5x5, and it has them shooting five rounds at five-inch-diameter circles, all within five seconds.
While women represent the fastest growing segment in the shooting sports, the article notes that Erdman is in a certain minority. Out of the 6,304 NRA instructors in Ohio, only 8.6 percent are female, according to the group’s Institute for Legislative Action.
But that idea is changing. The gun industry and the NRA want women like Ms. Erdman — women who not only buy guns and attempt to master them, but women who believe it is necessary for their protection in America. To Ms. Erdman and those who agree with her, their neighborhoods are filled with unstoppable threats: mass shootings, terrorism, abductors, among others.
As a woman, she believes she is especially at risk, and the only way to stop these forces is by arming herself.
“It’s not just about how to shoot a firearm — it’s about how to keep yourself safe,” Ms. Erdman says. “Every part of town is a bad part of town these days.”
According to Crime Prevention Research Center statistics cited by the Blade, female concealed carry permits have increased by 270 percent nationally. The Pew Research Center reported hunting as the number one reason gun owners reported arming themselves in 1999, but self-protection was the top answer in 2013.
“Every single one of us who carry a gun every day has pictured it,” Ms. Erdman later says. “We’ve made peace with whether or not we could pull the trigger and live with the consequences. And I’ve often said, protection of just myself? I don’t know. In protection of my kids and grandkids? In a heartbeat.”