Samantha Weigel/Daily Journal
Instructor Mike Norton displays some of the training pistols that use laser pointers to illustrate how to aim.
Shooting guns seems to be an activity for men, but a weekend event at the Coyote Point Rifle and Pistol Club is aiming to change that.
The nonprofit Coyote Point Rifle and Pistol Club is holding its second beginners pistol class geared toward women who want to learn about and experience something that is foreign to them, said Mike Norton, a club board member and the lead instructor for the class.
“Most of these women are coming from, they’re middle-aged, they’ve had life experiences. But [shooting] is something that they’ve never experienced before. So what we’re trying to do is say, come in and experience something and challenge yourself and alleviate any fears. With knowledge, you overcome fear,” Norton said.
Ten women have signed up for the two-day course that makes safety the first priority, Norton said. The eight-hour class is split into four hours of lecture, two hours of simulation and two hours of live fire. Participants will learn about pistol safety, the different components of a gun, fundamental shooting skills and how to care and clean a pistol. The students will also learn about different forms of ammunition and use a .22 caliber handgun, which is one of the smallest and most introductory caliber guns one can shoot, Norton said.
All of the club instructors are National Rifle Association certified and volunteers, Norton said.
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office owns and operates the Coyote Point Shooting Range, which is safely enclosed and one of the only outdoor ranges on the Peninsula, Norton said. The range opened in 1963 and, along with the Sheriff’s Office, about 10 to 15 law enforcement agencies train at the facility, Norton said.
Like most skills, shooting requires consistent practice and world record holders and even Olympic shooters have practiced at the Coyote Point Shooting Range, Norton said.
Even though shooting relies more on hand-eye coordination than brute strength, it’s mostly men who participate in the sport, Norton said.
Norton said he’s interested in why shooting is a male-dominated sport and plans on asking this weekend’s students what’s discouraged them from trying it in the past.
“I just think for whatever reason, in our society we’ve just kind of not fostered it. Yeah, it’s a guy thing, but it doesn’t have to be. I think it has to be opened to all the sexes so they can experience [shooting] and say yeah, I like it or I don’t like it,” Norton said.
Although the ratio of participation is uneven, very experienced women frequent the range and also wonder why more don’t participate. More often than not, sport shooters prefer going to a range as a social activity, so Norton said he hopes these courses will introduce some of the women to more than just guns, Norton said.
“We have women that compete in competitions, that we’ve known for years. And they’re asking the same question,” Norton said. “That’s what I’m trying to do, is foster a group … have the women network with them and, there may be your next best friend.”
Although this weekend’s activities are only for women, the club regularly hosts various classes at Coyote Point Shooting Range, Norton said. Two introductory courses for pistols and rifles, a firearm safety class and an online educational hunting course are offered throughout the year.
Norton said he was never exposed to guns growing up but became interested as an adult. He’s since been shooting for 25 years, teaching for 20 years, and like all of the instructors, is dedicated to teaching the public how to properly and safely operate a piece of equipment.
“Guns exist in our society everywhere and this is a tool that needs to be learned,” Norton said. “You don’t understand it until you understand all aspects of it.”
For more information about the Coyote Point Pistol and Rifle Club visit www.coyotepointrpc.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106