This past weekend in Fresno, California a pillar of women’s shooting instruction for the past 15 years took its farewell bows with a final shooting camp.
Babes With Bullets began in 2004 when women’s shooting icon Kay Miculek hosted an event at her home range, Shootout Lane, to help other female shooters get ready for an upcoming competition. This event started a collaboration between Kay Miculek and Deb Ferns for a traveling firearms instruction academy, for women, instructed by women, held in a “gals weekend” sleepover camp atmosphere. This proved to be a very popular combination, because nearly 6000 women have become “Babes” over the years – producing not only competent firearms enthusiasts, but also lasting friendships which span the country.
In addition to Camp Director Deb Ferns, Head Instructor Kay Miculek, and Senior Instructor Lisa Munson, Babes’ roster of instructors over the years has included many well-known names in women’s shooting, including Sheila Brey, who was the first woman to achieve Master classification in USPSA in the 1990’s; Annette Aysen, who is known as the First Lady of Revolver; and more recently, Olympian Biathete Lanny Barnes.
Although I had already begun shooting IDPA with a handgun before I attended my first Babes camp in 2011, it was that experience which made me realize that I was NOT a weirdo for being a woman who enjoyed guns. It was such a revelation and relief to see that every woman in attendance liked firearms! I wanted to jump for joy that I was not alone! I signed up for four more camps over subsequent years, dragging my two daughters along as well in 2013.
Babes has provided not only firearms instruction, but also mentorship and leadership – opening doors and encouraging women to embrace the firearms community (and it them) – with many alumni becoming instructors and leaders in their own right. Babes planted the seeds from which grew an entire harvest of female firearms enthusiasts.
It was Deb Ferns of Babes who encouraged my own first efforts at blogging several years ago and who guided me through getting media credentials for SHOT Show. These women have given back to the firearms community in uncounted ways both tangible and intangible. I and women like me all over the country consider these fine women to be our “Godmothers of the Gun”. We are saddened to see the experience come to an end.
But the party isn’t over yet! Babes founders have created a new venture called LACE, for Ladies Adventure Camp Experience, which is working to introduce women to hunting and fishing. I personally will be attending a LACE Ladies Doe and Hog Hunt in Texas in a few weeks, with my Aero Precision M5 in tow, so stand by for even more adventures!