A Girl and a Gun

This new Lake Martin organization mixes skill development and camaraderie. Photo by Kenneth Boone

Organization provides a safe and social environment for women shooters

Dynamic women empowerment, safety and solidarity are the primary merits of a newly-formed Lake Martin sisterhood, A Girl and A Gun.

The Lake Martin chapter of this nationally recognized organization, facilitated by Jodie McGirt, is a ladies-only shooting league established by women shooters for pistol, rifle and shotgun operators. The group is designed to teach beginners the basics of firearm handling and accurate shooting by providing training in a comfortable atmosphere. It also presents more opportunities to those with experience.

Its main objective is to improve ladies’ self-defense skills, along with competitive shooting. Other lessons include choosing the right guns, gear and accessories.

The culture of the league is to welcome all demographics of women to participate in events.

“This is the most inclusive group I have ever been a part of. The ladies truly take a personal interest in each other’s growth as shooters and provide a no-judgment environment. We really make sure of that because I want women to feel comfortable asking questions and learning new skills in a safe environment,” said McGirt, who is a range safety officer and NRA certified pistol instructor.

During a trip to a competitive three-gun shooting match in Phenix City, Alabama, McGirt was introduced to a chapter of AGAG. The safe environment and welcoming friendships provided by the women appealed to her.

“All the events we do will have a practice session and a social aspect because it’s all about the camaraderie,” McGirt added.

AGAG Women’s Shooting League has members in 48 states totaling nearly 5,600 women. The Lake Martin chapter currently has nine members, hailing from Alexander City, Eclectic, Dadeville, Tallassee, Deatsville and Montgomery. The next closest chapter is in Rainbow City, more than 100 miles away, so there are no boundaries for membership to this group.

According to McGirt, the league’s mission is to educate and encourage women about firearm usage and safety. She hopes to increase awareness and promote women’s shooting interests and participation in competitive shooting sports. Women also practice drills and receive instruction on personalized gun needs, while enjoying the company of women with similar interests.

For many, attendance may simply ease the fear of a gun range.

“This is about getting people familiar with shooting. I know a lot of ladies that carry but aren’t comfortable doing so or using their firearms. The goal is to ensure these ladies who carry become comfortable and confident in their firearm usage. The repetition of practice also helps create muscle memory,” McGirt said.

Learning the basics of grip, stance, sight picture and trigger control are valuable tools to have at any level, explained McGirt.

Only two years ago McGirt began developing her own shooting skills. While she grew up around guns, it was an influx of firearms at her house – and a lack of comfort around them – that jumpstarted her desire to learn more about their use and safety.

“I really enjoy being competitive with shooting because it’s against myself in an environment that’s supportive and encouraging. Also, there is a feeling of accomplishment, and it’s a major stress reliever,” she said.

AGAG Lake Martin meets twice a month for a variety of events, and holds quarterly matches against other women in the nation.

The sessions cover self-defense, firearm cleaning, in-home safety and learning to be your own first responder. McGirt said she hopes to partner with a local gun shop to bring out a variety of handguns so the ladies can experiment and find something with which they’re comfortable.

“Handguns are like shoes, you need to try them on to see what fits best,” said McGirt.

Learning to draw from a holster, shooting while moving and reloading under stress are essential skill sets for gun owners’ self defense.

“There is a huge focus on safety. I will go through a safety briefing each time and have a clearly defined safety plan in place should something happen. Range etiquette, proper attire and arriving with an unloaded gun that is placed in our ‘cold’ range are all important aspects of each gathering as well,” said McGirt. “The primary cause of accidents is ignorance, and I want to ensure these ladies have the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their firearms properly.”

Nationwide, AGAG offers clinics quarterly for special topics, including New Shooter meet-and-greet events. Sister organizations often sponsor get-togethers and provide lessons from national champion shooters or world-renowned instructors.

For some, the organization is a great path to find more competitive opportunities. Many members regularly participate in local matches. A positive environment could generate more opportunities for women and girls in shooting sports.

E-chapters are available online through A Girl and A Gun to help facilitate active training, along with an AGAG shooting journal that tracks ballistic data and professional documentation with guided worksheets.

Lake Martin AGAG primarily meets at Lake Martin Machine Gun, located on state Route 29 in Eclectic for the shooting portion of events.

To learn more about A Girl and A Gun Lake Martin AL, join its Facebook page.