Firearms are no laughing matter, and nobody is going to laugh at the women during this training class — these retired deputies of the Island County Sheriffs Office will make sure of it.
Robert Clark was a detective for the sheriffs office for 13 years, a firearms instructor and served in the Navy.
Clark said he noticed something troubling — too many women were afraid of firearms or had unrealistic expectations of them.
Some women would take gun-training classes, but they weren’t a supportive environment. Instead, the women would end up becoming “the entertainment of the day.” The women wouldn’t want to return.
“So, we said ‘we’re going to fix that,’” Clark said of himself and fellow instructor Errol Ortego, also a retired deputy.
The classes they offer are for women only, Clark said, aiming for a more comfortable learning environment.
After a request from the Central Whidbey Sportsmen’s Association in Coupeville, and Clark’s and Ortego’s discussions about the need for such classes, their training was offered regularly over 20 years, sometimes several times per year.
Clark and Ortego also offered youth gun safety classes aimed at resolving the mystery and unanswered curiosity surrounding firearms.
Bob McConchie, who leads the classroom portion of training, emphasizes the importance of safety and feeling comfortable with firearms. He also teaches how to obtain a concealed carry permit, gun laws and what to do if one finds oneself in a precarious situation.
Examples of firearms are passed around.
In the afternoon, students are taken to gun ranges to shoot various guns under supervision. Safety equipment is provided.
The next free class for women is 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 6 at the Central Whidbey Sportsman’s Club, 397 W, Safari St., Coupeville.
“Too many people’s idea of firearms is learned from television” Clark said.
Because so much information is provided, attendees liken the class to “drinking from a fire hydrant,” Clark said.
“They can shoot everything or they don’t have to shoot anything,” he said.
Clark said they keep class sizes limited to 20 in order to offer better training and a comfortable, safe environment.
Pre-registration is required. Attendees must 18 and older.
Attendees can bring their own safety equipment and guns, but no ammo. All firearms are inspected and approved before use.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a lunch.
The morning is classroom instruction and afternoon shooting at the range.
• To sign up for the class, contact Clark at 360-929-2167 or Ortego at 360-929-8918