HER Fam­ily

The Well Armed Woman

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - CONTENTS - Story by Lind­sey Wells, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

The Well Armed Woman is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to equip­ping, em­pow­er­ing, and ed­u­cat­ing women on gun use and own­er­ship. Lo­cal women’s ad­vo­cate and chap­ter leader Staci Claunch cre­ated the South­ern Arkansas Chap­ter of the Well Armed Woman to give the women of Hot Springs and sur­round­ing ar­eas the op­por­tu­nity to learn how to pro­tect them­selves and be­come com­fort­able with gun use.

Claunch is a li­censed con­cealed carry in­struc­tor. Reg­u­lar classes with Claunch are $85; fe­male-only classes are nor­mally $100, but she is cur­rently of­fer­ing them for $85.

How did you be­come in­volved with the Well Armed Woman or­ga­ni­za­tion?

Staci Claunch: My hus­band and I have al­ways liked shoot­ing as a hobby, so we’ve al­ways done that, and we have prop­erty so we shoot on our own prop­erty. We’re both for­mer mil­i­tary and so it’s just al­ways been some­thing we’ve done. I had got­ten my con­cealed carry li­cense and I wanted to find a group of women that shot reg­u­larly, a group of some sort that I could shoot and prac­tice with. So I just started re­search­ing and I came across the Well Armed Woman or­ga­ni­za­tion. They’re ac­tu­ally in 49 states and there’s over, I want to say, 369 chap­ters to­tal. So I read a lot about what they stood for and I thought, ‘That’s some­thing I want to do,’ but there wasn’t one in Hot Springs. There was one in Lit­tle Rock.

So, I emailed them and told them what I was look­ing for and they said, ‘Do you want to be a chap­ter leader? If you do, you can ap­ply and sub­mit why you want to do it,’ so I did and they ac­cepted it and that’s how it got started. I just

had to pull ev­ery­thing to­gether and start try­ing to re­cruit mem­bers.

One of the ladies in my chap­ter, she and her hus­band own Moun­tain Val­ley Ar­mory right off of Oua­chita Av­enue, and I buy a lot of stuff from her and we’re just good friends. She’s just real sup­port­ive of the chap­ter. I have my con­cealed carry in­struc­tor’s li­cense as well and so I teach women-only con­cealed carry classes at Moun­tain Val­ley Ar­mory the first Satur­day of ev­ery month.

What do the women-only classes con­sist of ?

SC: The women’s class is re­ally geared around not just con­cealed carry but also women’s needs, such as what type of hol­ster. Women are shaped dif­fer­ently than men so I re­ally gear that course to­wards women. It’s more de­tailed and it’s more of a specialty class of con­cealed carry. If you want to do the women-only class, I’m ac­tu­ally go­ing to be charg­ing $85 for that, as well. I’m start­ing a spe­cial to draw in more women, and it’s re­ally in-depth, you get the whole nine yards. I re­ally want women to have it. I’m an ad­vo­cate for women, I want them to carry. The crime rate is get­ting worse and worse, even in Hot Springs.

You said you are also a Ba­sic Pis­tol In­struc­tor; what does that con­sist of ?

SC: It’s mostly hand­guns, semi au­to­matic or a re­volver. We teach the ba­sic fun­da­men­tals of the pis­tol it­self and how to use the pis­tol. It’s part class­room in­struc­tion and part live fire in­struc­tion where the stu­dents ac­tu­ally qual­ify and prac­tice their long dis­tance shoot­ing and they prac­tice sit­ting po­si­tion shoot­ing.

That’s the ba­sic pis­tol — that’s re­ally for peo­ple that have never touched a gun.

I do those at my house. We have a huge work­shop be­hind our house that’s two bays and there’s a re­stroom out there and ev­ery­thing, so we set up the one bay and ac­tu­ally hold class­room in­struc­tion where I teach CCW and ba­sic pis­tol. We have Pow­erPoint and ev­ery­thing there and then we can just go right out­side. We have tar­gets set up where they can do their live fire qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

How would one go about join­ing the Well Armed Woman?

SC: They could pos­si­bly see one of our fly­ers or signs in town, but ba­si­cally what I tell peo­ple is — we just got a new web­site so you could Google the Well Armed Woman and lo­cate a chap­ter in your area. But the real way to go about find­ing a chap­ter is to go to http://www.twaw­shoot­ingchap­ters.org.

Our chap­ter, we started our chap­ter in March of 2017 and we have 26 mem­bers so far. How of­ten does your chap­ter meet?

SC: We meet ev­ery month, the sec­ond Satur­day of ev­ery month, from 10 a.m. to noon.

The first hour we do an hour of in­struc­tion in the class­room on var­i­ous top­ics. I change the top­ics ev­ery month. Some of the top­ics we’ve cov­ered, for ex­am­ple, we’ve done si­t­u­a­tional aware­ness, we’ve done first aid. The one com­ing up in De­cem­ber, we’re go­ing to do draw­ing from con­ceal­ment, so ev­ery­one is bring­ing their var­i­ous types of hol­sters and we’re go­ing to prac­tice draw­ing and shoot­ing from con­cealed.

Then we go out and shoot for the sec­ond

Claunch aims to em­power, equip and ed­u­cate women on proper gun carry

hour. It’s op­tional; if some­body doesn’t want to shoot, that’s fine, we have peo­ple that just come and visit and check it out and see if they want to join or not and that’s per­fectly fine.

To join, it’s $50 an­nu­ally and that goes to the ac­tual or­ga­ni­za­tion. I’m strictly vol­un­teer; I don’t get any money for do­ing this. It’s just some­thing I love, I love help­ing these women learn more and get­ting to know them. Why do you think it’s im­por­tant for women to carry?

SC: I think women are a weaker sex, ob­vi­ously, than men. I think they’re more tar­geted as far as at­tacks and rapes and so forth. I think that they need to be able to pro­tect them­selves. I don’t think they need to just rely on a spouse or some­one else, and that’s just my per­sonal opin­ion. I’ve al­ways wanted to be able to take care of my­self in case my hus­band wasn’t around. A lot of these women, their hus­bands buy their gun for them and then they never touch it. They carry it, but they have no idea how to even use it, so it’s re­ally im­por­tant, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing to carry a firearm that’s loaded, it’s very im­por­tant for safety rea­sons to know how that gun op­er­ates, es­pe­cially if you have small chil­dren.

I hear so many times from peo­ple, es­pe­cially at my church, that carry but they’re scared to come to the meet­ings be­cause they don’t want to be em­bar­rassed. They’ve never shot be­fore, or the loud noises scare them, and I just want women to be com­fort­able, feel com­fort­able that they can come out and re­ally just sit back and watch and give it a try. You kind of get ad­dicted to it — the more and more I’ve done this, the more I’ve just grown to love it and I re­ally feel more con­fi­dent now with car­ry­ing. I do carry ev­ery day and that’s re­ally im­por­tant, that they carry ev­ery day.

Staci Claunch

Monica Drig­gers, left, Riki Rud­der, Sa­man­tha En­trekin, Staci Claunch and Robi Heff­in­g­ton

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