(DE) This Ladies Night is a real blast with shots all around


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Drizzt
May 15, 2003, 08:55 PM
The News Journal (Wilmington, DE)

May 14, 2003 Wednesday

SECTION: KENT SUSSEX; Pg. 1X

LENGTH: 673 words

HEADLINE: At home on the range

BYLINE: KIM HOEY, Freelance OK

BODY:
This Ladies Night is a real blast with shots all around

By KIM HOEY, Special to The News Journal

DOVER - Loretta Fuller joked that she dares any of the clients at work to give her a hard time. She'll just point to the bullet-riddled target she created hanging behind her desk.

"I did good," said Fuller after her first effort at shooting a handgun. "I didn't know there was anything like this around. I'll be back."

Fuller was part of a group of women who entered Shooter's Choice in Dover last Friday to take part in Ladies' Night - an evening devoted to getting women out to shoot.

"We'll start with a .22 and we'll go to the .44 Magnum, the Dirty Harry gun, if you want," said David Lawson, co-owner of the range, as he explained safety concerns to the mostly first-time gun users. "You'll have an instructor with you loading one round at a time."

The owners of Shooter's Choice started Ladies' Night several years ago to give women who might be curious about shooting but wary of joining a class full of men, a chance to try out the sport. Although more than 700 women in Delaware were licensed to hunt in the last five years, guns still remain largely a man's domain. Ladies' Night is designed to level the playing field.

"We try to keep that intimidation factor down," said Lawson of the atmosphere of Ladies' Night, when a makeup representative sat in the lobby giving free hand-lotion samples. "We don't allow human-form targets, no facial targets, no exes," he explained as the women laughed, some snapping their fingers in mock disappointment.

The ladies, who ranged in age from 12 to 50-plus, laughed and giggled throughout their hour on the actual range, with one exception. Everyone was serious when she picked up a gun.

"I was just a-shaking," said Angie Brant, 33, of Smyrna, on her first-time shooting. "It beats sitting at home Friday night. You never know what you like until you try it."

Brant showed up with two friends, one who came to Ladies' Night before and told them they had to try it. They egged and cheered each other on, teased each other mercilessly, and decided that their time out was better spent at the range than at the movies.

"It's cheaper to come here, and you don't get so fat from all the popcorn," said Sharon Reider, 38, of Townsend, who laughed with her friends about how much they jumped at the loudness of the guns, even with protective headphones on. "You wait for that sound. You know it's coming."

Cost of the evening was just under $20 a person, $10 less than it usually costs just to rent the shooting space. The fee covered instruction, gun rental, range fees, cookies and soda.

A few of the women present were regular shooters who brought friends to try or simply took advantage of the price. Most were first-time shooters. Many had men at home who were hunters. They wanted to learn to safely handle the weapons, they said.

"I'd like to be a little more familiar with the guns, the loading ... ," said Rose Wilmire of Leipsic, whose husband is a hunter who signed her up for the class. "I'd like to try the Magnum also."

It's easier to teach women, said Lawson, as other instructors in the room nodded their heads in agreement. On the whole, he said, women have better fine motor skills than men, a great ability to concentrate, and they seem willing to listen to instruction and take suggestions.

"It looked easier than it was," said Liza Tillmes, 41, of Milford, as she carried around her target, the souvenir each participant took home. "I hit the target following instructions."

Tillmes left a teenage daughter at home, but doesn't think she'll do that next time. She's sure her daughter would like the sport, and thinks it is important to know how to safely handle a weapon. She'll bring her to another Ladies' Night sometime, she said.

"It was better with women friends you were comfortable with," said Tillmes.

"It's something else to feel confident about," said Robin Roht, 36, a dietitian in Dover. "It's an accomplishment, a skill to have."

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