In the end of March, we continued our firearms training, following NRA Basic Pistol, this time turning to Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment (AWARE), a teaching group run by women that I've heard good things about and have wanted to check out for a long time. In short, the good things I heard were verified by this class, which was not only informative but also very well presented by AWARE founding member and vice-president Lyn Bates, who herself has extensive training since 1983 including with Massad Ayoob ("I wanted to learn from the best" she noted), competes in defensive firearms, is a member of the International Law Enforcement Education and Trainer's Association, American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, American Women's Self Defense Association, is a contributing editor of Women & Guns and has written the book Safety for Stalking Victims: How to Save Your Privacy, Your Sanity and Your Life (she is also mentioned several times in McCaughey's Real Knockouts and in Quigley's Not an Easy Target).
The small class was equally men and women, with one man joining us at the last minute, having been a long time shooter and member of the Harvard Sportsman's Club who saw the information. While started, as Lyn explained, as a "women teaching women" school, they soon began teaching men as well. This, of course, could bring up a common problem seen when women have positions of power in what is considered a "man's world" where some men feel compelled to "take over" ...this was not going to happen with Lyn, that was clear (any more than any of the men who were, in fact, helping with Evelyn Logan's class we took previously would have had a chance). (This subject will probably end up being a future post here)
This class, is a vital step in preparing to defend oneself with a firearm, although it might not be the funnest step as it's a non-shooting course and deals with the hard, sobering facts that must be faced. It is, of course, a prerequisite for AWARE's Self-Protection with Handguns and Defensive Shotgun courses.
This is not to say it's all lecture and sitting, there were several exercises, such as the Tueller Drill and Using Cover and Concealment, to break up the talk and video tapes. The class starts with Introduction to Self-Defense, going over, among much else, the reasons for it, when it's required, what deadly force is and when it's justified and when it's not, not breaking the basic safety rules and what determines who wins.
The class then goes over what happens before and during a violent attack. This includes what the signs of aggression and imminent attack, what fear and trauma are, how the body and mind react to danger and how to harness that reaction and gives a guideline for interaction with an attacker.
After a lunch that included the video Home Defense, we moved into what happens if you have to shoot. As well as explaining the duty to retreat if possible under most circumstances (especially in states without "Castle Laws" like MA), shooting to stop (as opposed to even thinking "kill or wound"), not being focused on it went over the physical and cognitive after affects and what might happen to you with the law. Yes, you are probably going to be arrested. "The police will treat the person with a gun as a suspect." Do not have gun in hand when they arrive, give clear, calm information that you are the one attacked and that you want time to calm down before you give a statement. The importance of knowing who to contact if this happens, before it happens, was noted, this includes that those of us who train with AWARE can contact them, or have our lawyer contact them, for help with resources for your defense.
The last segment was on gun storage, including lock boxes and other devices and what to do should your home be invaded, including the cover and concealment exercise and how to determine if someone is in your home. The class finished up with a video of Massad Ayoob discussing Post Shooting Trauma.
During breaks Lyn kept herself approachable for questions and informal discussion, as well as having put out over a hundred handouts related to the subject, from serious articles to cartoons (this is in addition to several books that come with the class, two of Ayoob's In the Gravest Extreme and The Truth About Self-Protection, Bo Hardy's Defensive Living and Gila Hayes' Effective Defense). I found Lyn's teaching style approachable and open, while she also kept the class moving along and cleanly organized. The information was often grim, but the importance of getting the reality of the consequences was always obvious. This class is an absolute necessity for anyone considering using a gun for self-defense as much as learning the actual techniques, which will be the next step.
So I feel totally vindicated already in having promoted AWARE since hearing what others said, even though it took me awhile to get there. Especially if a non-shooting class was this interesting and strengthening. I can't say enough about how important I feel this class is, these are things we always have to consider. We will be taking Self-Protection with Handguns next month and I'm hoping they eventually offer a Defensive Shotgun class (interest will likely make it happen *hinthint*). AWARE isn't limited to firearms training, either, they also offer Pepper Gas and Persuader/Kubotan training, as well as an Assault Prevention class they offer free for groups of ten or more.
I highly recommend AWARE for both women and men for any of these purposes. And, always remember, you cannot take too many classes, even the "same class" because it will never be the same. I note this as I will be doing defensive training at Major Wadron's at some point too. And, yes, I'm still hoping to train with Ayoob myself one day.
(for the Third Step: Self-Protection with Handguns click this link)
Copyright © 2009 Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann