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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Basics of Reloading for Women

Contributed by Cami Brasher

I am a 51 year old grandmother who has been reloading my cartridge ammunition for the last 30 years.  The fact that I am female seems to surprise most people as reloading seems to be the last bastion of male dominance in firearms. So, Ladies, we need to learn to reload! 
Why reload?
  1. Reloading allows you to create a round that is inherently accurate for your particular firearm.   I shoot .45ACP most of the time, so for me, having a round that is as accurate as possible allows me to concentrate on improving my marksmanship by eliminating the “possibilities”.
  2. Most of us spend quite a bit of time trying to buy the least expensive products for our families while not compromising on quality.  Here is a great way to save money (providing you shoot a lot) while truly maximizing quality.
  3. It is a hobby that is fun and a Woman’s natural abilities maker her very good at it too.
Reloading requires one to be meticulous, safety conscious and to pay attention to very small details.  As women, we excel at these qualities and are master multitaskers. Reloading ammunition gives you a fun, money-saving and satisfying way of using your skills and it is a great hobby!
Over the years I have found that the extra time used to improve my family’s lot is not wasted time!  I also comparison shop, make my own household cleaners, soaps and lotions, coupon like no one’s business and I work!  I bet I am not the only one…
Still with me?  If you are, then let’s talk about how to get started in reloading without spending a ton of money that no one has in this economy.
The most important step in learning to reload is to educate yourself on the process and on safety! Handling components without hurting yourself and others is of primary importance.  If you are fortunate to have a spouse, brother or trusted friend who reloads, I would recommend asking them to let you watch and ask questions!  Buy a good reloading manual and read about the subject before you ever touch a press. I like the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading,  Nosler Reloading Guide or Hodgdon’s Annual Manual.  I prefer these manuals because not all of the information you can find online is accurate. Once you know more about the process, then the internet can become a helpful resource.  Always, always, always, use data that comes from a recent manual because reloading is changing faster than ever and new products are introduced all of the time. Any of the major manufacturer’s websites will also have useful data that is reliable and they have the laboratory equipment and testing capabilities, where as the guy on YouTube doesn’t have the facilities or the checks and rechecks.  Always take the side of safety and use reputable resources and manuals!

Okay, now that you have educated yourself on reloading, what is the least expensive way to proceed?    If you have a spouse, brother or friend who has a press and some serious experience,  have them teach and watch you as you begin with one caliber and reload that successfully.  As with anything else, the more you practice, the better you will get.  Many of us do not know anyone who reloads,  In that case check with local gun shops.  Many of them offer reloading classes!   
After you have become familiar with reloading, it’s time to begin to think about getting your own equipment, believe me you will know when you’re ready.  These are the minimum that you will need to reload your favorite handgun. 
  1. A reloading manual (physically having a book there helps a lot)
  2. A single stage press and dyes for your caliber
  3. Components: powder, primers, empty cases
  4. A tool to remove spent primers
  5. A tumbler or “cleaner” for spent brass and media
  6. Caliper or micrometer to measure old cases
  7. Powder measure 
  8. An accurate scale
  9. A bullet puller (everyone makes mistakes!)
  10. Various wrenches and such for adjustments to the press 
The above I think of as investments. You can spend a mint on equipment if you want to, but I personally spend the bare minimum and then add things as I am able.  You also will need a place to reload and to store the components that is safe from little fingers and anyone who is not authorized. Presses are heavy and a pain to set up every time you want to reload so if you have the room to keep it set up, that is ideal.  I kept components high on a shelf and kept the key to that room unavailable to my boys until they were grown men.  I know someone who has their equipment in a cabinet that they can slide-out when they reload and then slide it all back in and lock the cabinet when they are dones.
Each of these may be purchased inexpensively if you shop around, since we are women that is a given.  The major names in reloading presses are RCBS, Dillon, Lyman, and Lee.  My current press is an old Lyman that a friend gave me.  It is a four stage, single press that is hand cranked and allows me to quality control the entire process.  I do not have a progressive press which can perform different operations on multiple cases although I have used several of them. Personally, I enjoy the process and for a single person I can make plenty of rounds in an hour.  I would suggest you start with a single stage and keep it if you get a progressive, they are great for checking loads and reloading rifle rounds!

In addition to the equipment you will also need primers, powder, bullets and empty casings.  You can pick up your empty brass and your friends at the range or you can buy them.  As for primers, it will depend on the caliber that you are reloading.  Powder is made by a bunch of different companies and again the powder you need will be determined by what caliber you are reloading.  Check your manuals and then look around for powder either at a gun show or a shop that you trust.  Both are still in short supply these days as are bullets, but they can be found if you are patient.   
This may seem like a lot of trouble to go through but reloading is relaxing and feeds your inner nerd!  It also confounds men and I get a perverse pleasure in doing that while saving money for more and better guns!  I hope this helps many of you to decide to join the ranks of ladies who reload; I wouldn’t still be doing this if I didn’t enjoy it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gabby Franco - A Top Shot in Every Sense of the Word

I know you know WHO she is, but now you get to KNOW who she is. Gabby Franco is an impressive young woman. She of course is a Top Shot on the History Channel reality show by the same name. She also was the first woman Top Shot contestant to make it to the individual stage of the competition and she was selected as an All Stars contestant this year in season 5.  But she is much more than that, she is also a top shot as a caring and charismatic woman.   

Gabby and I at the NRA Conference

Gabby is one of those celebrities that just instantly seems “normal” and “down to earth”. I think it is the latter that makes her most appealing to so many female shooters. In today’s celebrity crazed and cut throat world, filled with so many self absorbed, narcissistic women - it is so refreshing to  find a woman to inspire us and one that we can connect with as “a woman just like us”.  

So let me introduce you to Gabby,

Gabriela "Gabby" Franco was born and raised in Barquisimeto, Venezuela and like most  girls she was active in the typical sports of swimming and gymnastics.  She had never been introduced to a gun nor been to a shooting range until the day her dad took her when she was 11. She realized how difficult it was to shoot a bullseye every time, which made her only want to try over and over and over again until she got better. Since this first day she knew shooting was a “different” kind of sport and she was hooked and fell in love with it. 

Gabby became part of the Female Junior Shooting Team of the State of Lara (Venezuela) along with her 2 sisters where she trained every day for 3-4 hours in preparation for national competitions.  At the age of 16 Gabby became part of the Venezuelan Olympic Team and won her first International Silver Medal at the Bolivarian Games in Peru in 1997.  Although completely surrounded by men, she says “I never felt different, I was just part of a team” Since then Gabby became one of the favorite pistol shooters of the Venezuelan Team competing in 14 different countries in 5 years and earning at least a dozen International titles. Gabby was the Venezuelan National Champion for several years and her last match was in Brazil in the South American Games, where she won 3 Gold Medals. Gabby moved to the USA in 2002 and started working in the Firearms Industry becoming more involved in the USPSA and with tactical shooting. 

I asked Gabby about personal defense and if it was part of her mindset as a competitive shooter. She shares “the vast majority of the shooters were police officers or in the military with extensive experience with firearms and they all carried concealed. I heard every day about crimes and how criminals used firearms and that crime was increasing in Venezuela. From these men, I learned about defending my own life. I believe in my right to preserve my life at all costs, because as I learned from my fellow shooters in Venezuela, criminals only care about their lives not mine.”

We then moved on to the subject of the large numbers of women coming into gun ownership and I asked her what she thought is the greatest challenge they face and how she would encourage them?

She talked about her seminar “Tough Women In Pink” and shared  “I always help them to understand that fear of guns is nothing more than fear of the unknown. There is nothing wrong with fear and it is a natural instinct. It will keep someone aware and more vigilant and help to insure that  she follows the firearm safety rules. What is not good is NOT WANTING to overcome these fears. This is a weak mindset and puts a women in the position of a victim. It’s like driving a car or a motorcycle for the first time, after practice and doing it a lot, the fear disappears and it becomes something more natural”.

“Understanding and accepting our limitations makes us strong”, she continued, “knowing that there are certain things we cannot change like our physical strength, height, etc., helps us look for other ways to reach our goals. I am a petite woman; I am only 5’ tall and weigh no more that 105 lbs, and am seen by most as tiny little girl. Yes, this physically is a fact but this doesn’t mean I am weak.  I may be small but I am trained and ready to do my best”. 

This is a powerful lesson for all of us. If we know what our limitations are and really take a good look at them and understand exactly what they are, we can then strategize ways to train to compensate for them and minimize our limitations.

Being that Gabby is so entrenched in the world of firearms and travels all over the country,  I was curious what she thought the future held for women shooters. 

Gabby believes the future is in our hands as female shooters, and it is our responsibility to shape our future in it. “I believe that as long as women don’t lose their femininity, and understand we don’t have to be like a male shooter and if women undertstand the need to keep practicing, we definitely can change this male dominated sport. Women must understand that owning a firearm and shooting it once a year is not safe, and it is not responsible. Women must also understand that owning a gun should not be trendy. Be safe, be responsible and defend the second amendment.”

Gabby’s passion to help women break free from a victim mentality and to train hard and  to be all they can be is inspiring. It is so refreshing to have a woman like Gabby helping to shape the future of women’s shooting.  

You can see more about Gabby on her website and follow her on Facebook!

View or buy Gabby's new book "Trouble Shooting - Mastering Your Pistol Marksmanship"   She has autographed them just for TWAW!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don’t Rely on a Candy Bar: Why Women Runners Should Carry a Weapon

Contributed by Kelly Curtis

When I saw the white Suburban, I knew it was a mistake crossing the last road and continuing south on the railroad tracks. Still, the evening’s golden light across the alfalfa fields, the purple sky, and the fresh air beckoned me. I was in a new town, still learning the streets and the best places to run, and trying to avoid the California desert’s mid-day heat. 
I gave a curt wave to the men in the SUV and wondered if men get irritated with women who dismiss them without so much as a glance. I double-checked they continued to fly down the road away from me. I plowed forward on the tracks, determined to work off two candy bars from earlier in the day.  
It wasn’t twenty yards later when my skin began to tingle. Call it intuition. If those men turned around and drove the tracks, they could catch me in seconds. I didn’t want to cross the road where I’d last seen them, so I took my knife from my bra and gripped it tight, something I do when I see cougar tracks back home. I picked up the pace too. I would finish the mile of tracks, get to the highway, and make it home. Something told me to have a plan, so I decided if they came down the tracks, I would duck through the barbwire into the field where they would have to pursue me on foot.
Probably thanks to the candy bars, the run was going well. I felt fast and energetic. The sun disappeared behind the horizon and I let my mind wander. I thought about writing the next chapter of my novel. I thought about my friend whose lovable baby has entered the terrible-twos. I thought about my bad decision to run so late in the day. I was isolated by fields. It was a good half-mile to help in either direction. I didn’t know my cross streets and no one was waiting for me at home. 
I was halfway to the highway, clipping at an even pace, when I saw the white Suburban. The men had come for me. My intuition was right. 
For a long time, I was reluctant to carry a phone while running, but several months ago, I succumbed to my husband’s pleadings. I thought about calling him in Colorado, but as the men turned up the tracks, and dust spun up from the Suburban’s tires, I knew there was no time. I ducked through the barbed wire and dialed 911.
They must have seen me go through the fence, because they turned, headed parallel to the field, and made another attempt to cut me off. I went back out to the tracks and ran. Between breaths, the best I could tell the dispatcher was that I was just south of town, on the tracks, east of the highway, running away from a mobile home park. 
It must have been somewhere in there that I dropped my knife. I was home before I realized I hadn’t put it back in my bra. Two men were chasing me in a truck and the best lifeline I had was my phone and however fast those candy bars would let me run. 
The 911 dispatcher sent out two police and kept me on the phone. When I approached the road where I’d first seen the men, I saw a white SUV waiting by the tracks. It might have been the police, but at the time I was sure the men had parked and were waiting for me. The dispatcher told me to go to the road to meet the police, but I hadn’t seen any lights or heard any sirens and she couldn’t confirm it was police at the tracks. 
I dropped into a willowy bush and crawled again through the barbed wire into the field. From the watery ditch, I saw the first police cruiser, a quarter-mile away, at the mobile home park. I ran through the alfalfa, toward the officer and took my chances of being hit by rifle-fire. Truth was, I didn’t think the men were that motivated. They saw the easy prey I’d allowed myself to become and didn’t pursue beyond that. 
By the time I met the police, the men were gone. I gave the police a brief report and ran home, soaked and muddy in torn clothes. A few cuts in my skin ached from the barbed wire. The police followed and ensured I made it home. They patrolled my street a few times that night. I felt blessed to be alive, not still out in that field, not another statistic.
Scenes from that evening and its other possible outcomes haunted me all night. At 9:00 the next morning, I went to my local Sherriff’s office and applied for a concealed carry permit. 
Three days since being chased, I’m back out on the road. I can’t give it up. I can be smarter about it. I can run in the morning or with a partner. I need to learn the roads and tell people where I’m going, but I won’t stop going. If I’m smart enough and lucky enough, I’ll never have to draw a weapon, but I refuse to rely on luck any longer. If I do draw, it’s my right to being a healthy, happy woman that I’ll defend. 

TWAW notes on holsters:

There are a few good holster options for runners/athletes - Take a look at the following possible options:
Pistol Wear Under Arm
Pistol Wear Sport
TWAW Belly Bands
TWAW Ankle holster
Pistol Pouch by Thunderwear
Compression Shorts/Tank Top with holster

Click here to visit the Holster Page

Monday, June 24, 2013

You know you’re a Well Armed Woman When.....

Yes, another Jeff Foxworthy take off, but I just could’t resist. The responses to this “fill in the blank” astonished me. Most made me laugh out loud while others made me realize just how significant it is to be A Well Armed Woman. There were hundreds and hundreds of responses and the task of selecting just a few to share with you was daunting.  I would have loved to share them all with you, but here we go...

You know you’re a Well Armed Woman When..............

Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction has nothing to do with your German Short Haired Pointer!!!

Your husband is using the 409 cleaner and you tell him to keep his finger off the trigger unless he is ready to fire.

You know what frog lube is!!!
When digging in the bottom of your purse for change, you pull out a handful of stray spent casings from the range.

You have more guns then shoes!

22-9-45-38 are not your lottery picks!!!

You walk into the gun store and everyone knows your name.

The guns you got in the divorce were yours to begin with.

Wearing purple makes you feel like you should be at the range.

If you’re now on YouTube more than your teenager.

Your kitchen is a mess but your ammo is stacked neatly & arranged by caliber & load.

When remembering your “First Time” has a whole other meaning...

You turn on the blow dryer and wonder if you need hearing protection.

Your idea of feminine protection isn't Tampax.

When you have a holster to match each outfit.

Your husband's friends call  to ask YOUR advice on gun purchases and shooting drills.

When your husband leaves for deployment and tells you to defend this house and family if needed.

You are not afraid to enter a gun shop and buy ammo BY YOURSELF...

You prefer Hoppes #9 to Chanel #5

You shop & dine where it's legal to carry.

When you don't have any more room in your gun safe!

You'd rather go to the range than to the mall.

Your husband thanks you for protecting him all day.

When you prevent yourself from being the victim.

Your carjacker runs!

 I read all of these wonderful answers and celebrate the fact to SO MANY WOMEN are gun-savvy and carrying nowdays.

Yes, this is fun stuff but the thought of so many women, living their lives with the knowledge and skill to protect themselves is really profound. Just think about it - if  women could be armed in every sense of the word to defend themselves, just how different things would be.  

So, how would you finish this statement? 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Concealed Carry for Women

In Arizona, our temperatures have already hit 100!  The hot weather of summer can make concealed carry quite a challenge. For many of you, you also have humidity to deal with! Unfortunately, for many women this results in leaving their gun at home. Our need to protect ourselves does not go down in the summer, we must find ways to carry in every season.

I wish I had the one true simple fix for you, but I don't. Here however are some things that can help you better and more comfortably conceal as the temperatures increase and your clothing decreases!!

Remember though, there are times, as an armed woman, you will have to make some adjustments and sacrifices to accomplish carrying effectively and safely all of the time. There is no perfect solution and the bottom line may be you must make some changes. The only other option is to not carry, likely not what you want.  

Go Looser and Longer
Thankfully, light, loose and whispy doesn't ever go out of style. Looser, lighter clothing is not only more comfortable, it is cooler too as it allows the air to circulate and keep things cool! Wear a long cotton shirt with your summer shorts/skirts to easily conceal your in the waist or on the belt holstered gun. Wear patterned shirts and dresses. The pattern helps to help to minimize the appearance any "bulge".  The Betty is a great in the pants holster in any season. Its minimal design means less stuff in your pants. The Magnetic is a very popular holster for the simple reason it requires no belt or heavy waist band to secure itself to the waistband. If wearing summer dresses, the bra holsters (mentioned above) are a good bet along with  the Pistol Wear Under arm and the Ultra Under arm, both made with great breathable fabrics and are another great choice.

Betty Holster shown   betty karh in use 3cropped resized 600
Betty holster shown above

Go Deeper
Summer weight pants, shorts and skirts means lighter and weaker waistbands which can make on the waist or in the pants carry very difficult. Try a holster that isn't dependent on the waistband such as the Pistol Pouch which "buries" the firearm down on the pelvic area. This is a cotton holster with a thin band that is worn around your hips.  Your belly band worn low and on your hips can also be a solution, but tend to be a bit warmer because of the elastic. Both bra holsters, the Flashbang and the Marilyn are also good choices. The Pistol Wear Under Arm  and Ultra Under Arm holsters also are great "deep" choices. Keep in mind however that going deeper brings with it some challenges, mainly accessing your gun quickly and safely. Practice these draws regularly with your unloaded gun. Carrying your firearm off body should be your last choice. Carrying in a concealed carry purse introduces much greater levels of risk and provides access to your gun that no one should have. The utmost care MUST be taken when doing so. 

pwunder arm front 3photo  pw in use 2 web
Pistol Wear Under Arm Holster shown above

Go Smaller
Although not the ideal solution, as we don't want to give up firepower if we don't have to, carrying a smaller gun in the summer months is an option and is better than not carrying any gun at all. if you can afford a second gun, the very small and compact semi-automatics and lightweight revolvers are very easy to hide. Some are now so slim that they don't create a bulge, and who needs more of those?? You may want to research the available holsters for these models prior to purchasing to make sure the type of holster you want/need to wear is available for it. One important thing to be aware of is that the smaller, lighter guns will have quite a bit more recoil to contend with. They simply don't have the weight and size necessary to absorb it, so that means your hand an arm do!!!

Beretta Nano
Pico 0057

Perhaps you have some things that have worked for you that are not covered here. Please feel free to post them.

Stay cool ladies and stay safe!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Call To Women Gun Owners - Speak Up!

I  wanted to speak to you, the American woman gun owner, face to face.

The looming changes and restrictions to our rights to to be able to match the weaponry of the violent criminal who wants to do us harm are coming. As women - we already have the disadvantage, the application of the proposed legislation would leave us ill equipped and on an even more un-level battlefield. I believe the path we as a nation are about to head down leaves us extremely vulnerable to more restrictions that will jeopardize our Second Amendment rights. Now is the time for us, collectively, the millions of women like you and me who exercise our right to defend ourselves, our loved ones and our homes, to enter this debate with passion and might.
Thank you for listening and uniting to effect policy.
With great respect,

Here is a link to contact your representatives -

Join the NRA here and save 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do you get a ‘kick’ out of shooting?

By Guest Contributor Dawn Brown
Recoil, also known as kick or kickback, is the backward momentum of a gun when it is fired.  Many beginners are very concerned about how much recoil a gun is going to produce when it fires.  That is completely understandable because if you’ve never shot a gun before, you don’t know what to expect.  What is surprising to me is number of husbands who send their wives to the range with a large caliber gun for their first shooting experience.  I’m not saying that women can’t handle the larger caliber guns, but giving a brand new shooter a .38 Special snub nose revolver or a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol to learn with might be setting them up for failure, or at least an extreme dislike of shooting.
If you are a first-time shooter, why not set yourself up for success by starting out with a smaller caliber, such as a .22 pistol?  As you can see from the pictures below, the muzzle barely lifts up when the shot is fired.  The minimal recoil will help you get past any anxiety or nervousness during those first shots.  It will also allow you to focus on the fundamentals of shooting, rather than stressing out about the recoil of the gun with every shot.
The next set of pictures show the recoil of a .380 caliber pistol.  The .380s are popular with many people who carry concealed because they are so small.  The .380 cartridge is smaller than a 9mm cartridge and therefore slightly less powerful, but due to the short barrel length of the pistol you will experience some recoil.  All that energy has to go somewhere, so it goes towards “open space” (where your hands are not gripping the gun), which is up and back if you have a solid two-handed grip.
The 9mm cartridge is powerful enough for self-defense use, but it is smaller than a .40 or .45 cartridge.  This means that the recoil of a 9mm pistol will be lighter than those calibers, but you are going to feel more recoil than the .22 and .380 pistols.  The pistol being fired below has a compact 3.8” barrel.  As mentioned before, the shorter the barrel, the more recoil.  A 9mm pistol with a longer barrel might not recoil as much as the one in this picture.
Now, let’s take a look at the recoil of a .40 caliber pistol.  If you’ve never shot before, you’re nervous and a little scared, and you don’t know how to properly grip a pistol, do you think a .40 caliber pistol would be a good one to start with?  I sure don’t!
The .45 caliber pistols have quite a bit of recoil, too, but they are generally larger and heavier so the recoil doesn’t feel as harsh as you might expect.  There is still quite a bit of kick, as you can tell by this picture.
These snapshots were taken from this short video of one of our female employees shooting a variety of semi-automatic pistols ranging from .22 to .45 caliber.  You can check out the video here:
At BluCore, we want new shooters to get a “kick” out of their first shooting experience and have it be a positive one.  We wrote this blog and made this video to showcase the recoil of the most popular calibers of semi-automatic pistols.  Sometimes more experienced shooters forget what it’s like to shoot a gun for the first time and they try to get others to start with gun that is “too much” for a beginner.  Why not give new shooters the best chance for success by starting them out with a lower caliber pistol so they can get comfortable shooting and work on their fundamentals?  Once they have the confidence and skills, they will be more than ready to take on the big guns.
Follow her personal blog at and BluCore’s blog at