Monday, April 10, 2006


Debbie Ferns didn't touch a gun until she was 45 years old, but since then, guns and shooting sports have become one of the focal points of her life. The Tucson, Ariz., native was at the Bass Pro Shops on Thursday night, speaking to about 25 area women about her love of shooting and how learning to shoot can give them more self-confidence. "I'm often asked if learning to shoot does anything for me personally in terms of self-defense, and I answer unequivocally, 'yes,'" Ferns said. "It very much empowered me to know that I can take care of myself. When the going gets tough, I know I can respond."

Ferns penned the "Babes with Bullets: Women Having Fun With Guns" book which features numerous testimonials from women who discovered a love for shooting in their 30s, 40s and 50s. She was in town last week participating in the 2006 Ladies Shooting Camp in Princeton under the direction of Kay Clark Miculek. The camp bills itself as a combination firearms training and pajama party. The Babes With Bullets camps offer practical pistol training for novice, intermediate and advanced shooters. Instruction is offered by three of the best women practical pistol shooters in the country.

Local outdoors woman Rose German attended the Thursday clinic in the Camo Department at Bass Pro. She was on the rifle team at Southwood High School "a few years ago." "I like to shoot for fun and I've shot a .410, .22 and 12 gauge," German said. "But I haven't done it a lot lately." German is active in the Women In The Outdoors Program of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which will hold a program at Bodcau Dam in June. "My dad likes to deer hunt and he always tried to get me to go," she said. "I went one time and sat in the woods freezing to death and didn't see a thing. I swore that I'd never go back."

Although Ferns makes a living as a corporate meeting planner and a special events producer, she spends a lot of time talking to women around the country about taking up shooting. "Women are very willing to be instructed and don't have the preconceived notions that men have," Ferns said. "That often allows them to learn quicker than men." She said she's amazed at how many divorced, widowed and single women in the Tucson area have become interested in shooting. "The biggest thing for them is overcoming their fear of going to a range and using a gun," Ferns said. "What they will probably find is that they will be welcomed with open arms."

Ferns encourages women who have begun shooting to invite their friends and family members to join them. "Don't hide what you do," she said. "These camps that we put on are like the beginning of a sisterhood and allows those attending to better understand what we do with guns." Ferns is scheduled to appear on a future Rush Limbaugh show and the radio host wants to discuss page 94 of her book, which talks about the meaning of PC. "To me, PC does not mean politically correct. It means please conform and I'm not buying that anymore," Ferns said. "Don't say or do anything that other people find disagreeable. I'm okay with people agreeing to disagree."

Ferns sometimes speaks to groups of anti-gun folks and discusses the second amendment with them. "I talked with one man in California who was very much against the use of automatic weapons," she said. "When we finished talking, he bought my book. I asked him if he wanted me to sign it and he said 'no.' Then he walked off. At least he bought my book."

Ferns said that getting a woman to go to a shooting event alone is difficult because "women like to go with other women." "Women wait to be invited and they like to do things in groups, even go to the bathroom," she told the Bass Pro attendees. "And there's a lot of growth for women in shooting sports. Women make up about 14 percent of the National Rifle Association membership but we make up a whole lot more of the population the last time I checked."


Without exception: "Last week, I was searching through news headlines when I found another story about another state working for passage of a 'stand your ground' law (that's a law that says you aren't obligated to retreat before using deadly force if you believe that deadly force is warranted). While I thought the law was a good thing, when I passed along the news to others online I also pointed out (just a little tongue in cheek) that all of us already had one of those, no matter where we lived, and that it's called 'The Second Amendment.'"

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