My first opportunity to shoot came in the fall of 2004 when Al Hausmann and his wife Bobbie volunteered to take me shooting at the North Alabama Shooting Association’s range in Sheffield. Long story short, I enjoyed shooting, was good at it, bought a gun, ignored my husband’s dismay, joined the NASA talked to friends about my new interest, and discovered how many guns were in houses here in the Shoals area…and how many women were afraid of them and/or knew nothing about using them.
Al suggested that I start some classes. He put me together with Officer Lee Smith, another member of the NASA, who volunteered to teach the first class. That one class of my friends and acquaintances has grown from a class of 20 to classes that have accommodated between 600-700 men and women, mainly from the Shoals area. We have also had participants from as far away as Raleigh, Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, and Nashville.
Because the first class was such a success, Chief Rick Singleton and The Florence Police Department offered to sponsor the following classes. The morning session of the Level 1 classes takes place in the roll call room at at the Florence Police Department and the afternoon shoot takes place at the Florence Police Department’s wonderful state of the art Training Facility/Shooting range off Gunwaleford Road. Both the Level 2 and 3 Classes are all day at the Training Facility/Shooting Range. Officer Smith teaches the class with the help of other officers that are all Certified Firearms Instructors. They are not only knowledgeable, they are also patient , kind, funny, special men that have made me proud.
I have continued to coordinate the classes, and for that I am now a Special Officer with the Florence Police Department. I am the one that gets to hear everybody’s personal story. In addition to the many widows that have been through the classes, there is the woman whose husband is a truck driver and is out of town during the week, the Hospice nurse that is driving at all hours out into the county, the lady that was shot with a BB gun as a child and was petrified of guns, the lady that she and her husband live out in the county and have been robbed several times, the ladies that travel for their jobs and spend many nights in motels, school teachers and college students, men and women whose jobs make them vulnerable…doctors, pharmacists, nurses, real estate agents, small business owners, and women that get off work late at night.
The next step toward the Florence Gun Club was to approach Chief Singleton about the possibility of forming a club and having use of the shooting range for several days a month so that the class participants could practice what they had learned in the classes. He shook his head yes, and so, after much hard work from the core group of interested men and women, we were incorporated, had our insurance in place, and had our first club meeting January 13, 2011.
Florence Gun Club, Inc.