Girls with guns: Summit County Shooting Range hosts target class for women |

Girls with guns: Summit County Shooting Range hosts target class for women

Women practice aiming "shotguns" during a class at the Summit County Shooting Range.
Elise Reuter / |


The clay disc soared through the air for a few moments, before shattering into pieces.


The resounding crack of a shotgun echoed across the mountains.

“It’s so much fun when you hit your first target,” said Bill Hardy, a volunteer with the Summit Range Association.

He presented to the group of 30 women, some learning to shoot for the first time. The crowd was gathered at the Summit County Shooting Range for its “Women on Target” course, teaching women the basics of target shooting with a wide range of firearms.

“We have a wide range of people from complete novices who have never shot before, to people who have experience maybe with a rifle or a shotgun,” Summit Range Association president Brian Denison said. “It gives them the opportunity to see what the sport of target shooting is like.”

Throughout the morning, volunteers taught best practices for handguns, shotguns and rifles, demonstrating proper stance, aiming and follow-through. The class was first offered last summer, with a full house of 25 people, and was brought back again this summer thanks to a $3,000 grant from Friends of the National Rifle Association.

“We are very interested in teaching the shooting sports to a wide variety of people; whoever’s interested,” Denison said. “This is one opportunity.”

Chief instructor Brad Deats brought out a small roll of bubble wrap to explain the proper technique for pulling the trigger with rifles.

“Now don’t fire your guns too early,” he laughed. “You slowly apply pressure to the trigger, and ‘bang.’”


Later in the afternoon, more than a dozen volunteers taught participants how to load, aim and fire each type of gun. Everyone was provided ammunition, firearms and hearing protection, though a few brought their own guns.

“We have a really active group of volunteers,” said Nan Denison.

In the afternoon, the women tried their hand at the range with shotguns, pistols and rifles. The range provided ammunition and firearms for those without their own.

One woman, Barb, gave a handgun a shot, while Sydney ventured toward one of the higher-caliber rifles. Lining up the target in her sights, she gave it a shot for the first time.

“That was a lot of fun,” she said.

“To me, it kicks,” another woman laughed.

At the shotgun range, a group of women clapped when Monica Zorens shattered clay pigeon after clay pigeon.

“A lot of women buy their first gun as a handgun for self-defense,” volunteer Tom Little said. “But then they say, hey, this is fun, and they’re up here every weekend.”

While the class is a good introduction to the basics of target shooting, it does not qualify toward a Colorado concealed carry permit. For that, the range offers a class on the basics of pistol shooting July 16 and 17.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in (women) at our pistol classes,” said Nan Denison. “This is more of an introductory course.”

For those who missed this Women on Target course, it will be offered again later this summer, on Aug. 13.

“We’ve started enrollment, and I think it’s going to fill up fast,” she added.

The Summit Range Association is staffed entirely by volunteers. NRA-certified instructors were present at Saturday’s course as well.

Correction: A previous version of this article said the Summit Range Association received a $30,000 grant from the National Rifle Association. The actual grant amount was $3,000. The Summit Daily News regrets this error.

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