Safety first: Alcazar teaches women’s pistol class
Published 10:59 am Friday, January 15, 2016
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
HOOVER—Christy Carr picked up a nine millimeter handgun and confidently aimed it at a bright pink target. She pulled the trigger, squarely hitting the center of the target.
“I can handle this!” Carr said, noting a feeling of empowerment and safety that came along with her knowledge and ability to safely handle a firearm.
Carr, a mother of four, was just one of five women who traveled to Brock’s Gap Training Center on Jan. 14 for Beth Alcazar’s Women’s Intro to Pistol class.
The class is an introduction to handgun basics, with a heavy emphasis on safety, and it is designed specifically for women.
“You hear a lot about home invasions and safety factors,” Jennifer Brakefield said, explaining safety and protection were primary reasons she signed up for the class. “Having a gun is important, and being able to protect yourself is important.”
Brakefield attended the class with her sister-in-law, and prior to the Jan. 14 session she had never shot a gun. Two hours later, Brakefield was comfortably handling a 22 millimeter handgun.
In addition to safety, both Brakefield and Carr noted the importance of understanding and being confident and comfortable around firearms. Carr’s husband, along with Brakefield and her sister-in-law’s husbands enjoy shooting, both women explained.
“My passion and my goal is that women feel confident and comfortable with firearms, because I do not believe we are the weaker sex,” Alcazar said.
Alcazar is a trained and certified firearms instructor and competitive shooter, but her role as a mother is what got her involved with firearms. After a gunman took five students hostage at her daughter’s school, Chelsea Middle School, in 2013, Alcazar began learning about guns as a way to keep her family safe.
Alcazar drew on her own experiences as a woman and a mother to create the Women’s Intro to Pistol class. The session began with one hour of classroom time, in which Alcazar explained how to safely handle, load and shoot a pistol.
“We never aim a firearm of any kind at anything we’re not willing to destroy,” Alcazar said “You are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun.”
The women learned a three-point check to ensure a pistol is clear of ammunition, something Alcazar said she does twice every time she is handed a firearm.
Alcazar also stressed the importance of maintaining caution whenever using a firearm.
“You know when accidents happen? When people lose that fear,” Alcazar said. “Don’t be complacent, don’t be comfortable, firearms are to be respected.”
With Alcazar’s assistance, the women used a model gun and an unloaded pistol to practice loading, grip and stance before heading out to the range.
The women then applied what they learned in the classroom out on the range. Alcazar and her husband Sean, a certified range safety officer, provided assistance, addressed concerns and answered questions as the women took turns shooting both a nine millimeter and a 22 millimeter pistol.
“I’ve actually taken this class before,” Carr said, explaining the Jan. 14 class was her second Women’s Intro to Pistol class and only the second time she had used a pistol. “I felt very confident when I left.”