I Did Not Have the Skills I Might Need to Protect my Family…
Essay by Kim Maskalenko
For most of my life, I never owned a gun. I never thought I needed one. I was never anti-gun, just ambivalent. Things started to change as my daughter grew and began to resemble a young lady. Although it may sound odd, I began to see her through the eyes of a child molester, and this was very disturbing to me. I started to go online at meganslaw.com and see the men who were allowed to live around me, and the things they had done to a child. I realized I did not have the skills I might need to protect my family.
Kim & Anne-Marie Maskalenko
In May 2005, I went to see my father in Boulder City, Nevada for a long weekend. He is a Gold First Family member who has been training at Front Sight since the Bakersfield days. He took me to a local range for about an hour so I could fire my first shots from a 40 caliber Glock. The next day, it was off to 2 Day Defensive Handgun with the same gun at Front Sight. These two days, not only on the range but also in the classroom, were a significantly life-changing event for me. I returned home intent on acquiring a gun.
Since I had no experience with firearms, I was very concerned about safety. I decided I would feel more comfortable if I were to graduate the 4 Day Defensive Handgun Skills Test prior to owning a gun. I went to work dry practicing with my finger gun for a month. I returned to 2 Day Defensive Handgun in June 2005, and rented a Glock 22. After this class, it was clear to me that to pass the Skills Test, I would need better resources. I borrowed a Glock 22 from a loved one with the understanding that it would stay in a safe, and I would not use it for carry or self-defense.
I set about dry practicing 2-3 times a week, and going to the range once a week, always wearing a concealment garment. I posted at the Front Sight First Family website asking for detailed information concerning the Skills Test because I had never seen it administered. I received a lot of fantastic advice, which allowed me to dry practice perfectly. A fellow Silver First Family member who lives near me worked with me at the range to help me progress from accurate to FAST and accurate.
I returned to the 2 Day Defensive Handgun night version in July 2005. I was pleased to make use of my borrowed gun’s night sights, and learn the Harries flashlight technique. Since then, I never dry practice or live fire without practicing this technique. Since the need to defend my family is most likely to occur at night, I consider the use of a flashlight to be one of the most important techniques. The students in my class were far more advanced in their shooting skills than I was. The Range Master started to turn the targets as fast as they are turned for the Skills Test. I could see I still had a lot to accomplish.
For the remainder of July and August, I trained with an intensity bordering on obsession. I showed up for 4 Day Defensive Handgun the first weekend in September 2005, ready to rock. To make a long story short, when I went to the firing line for the Skills Test, I breathed deeply, and saw myself in my mind shooting well, graduating, and owning a gun. Beyond that, I had only one thought in my mind, “Don’t take your eyes off the FRONT SIGHT!”
I never looked to see where my shots had gone, waived the opportunity to review my target with the Instructors, and went to the dry practice line unaware of my shooting score. Thanks to endless hours of dry practice, I received no lates or procedurals for malfunction clearances and reloads. I was elated to learn that my score was a 95. I passed!
I returned home and purchased a Glock 35. I chose this gun because I planned to compete in local matches. In fact, I am now an IDPA Classified Marksman, and not far from making Sharpshooter. Also, I enjoy shooting GSSF, and plan to shoot the Steel Challenge next year.
I have met many women who came to matches to watch their husbands shoot, and saw me shoot the same matches. More than a few of them have said to me, “Maybe I should be shooting this match, too!” In an effort to reach out to more women, I coach at NRA Women on Target events. To better myself as a coach, I recently became an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, and plan to pursue other NRA certifications.
It is my hope that many of the women who I coach or even see me compete will learn to defend themselves and their families with a firearm, come to treasure and defend their Second Amendment right, and vote accordingly.
Since graduating the 4 Day Defensive Handgun Skills Test, I have returned to Front Sight to attend Empty Hand Defense, Edged Weapons, Tactical Shotgun, Practical Rifle, Advanced Tactical Handgun, and Glock Armorer. I also completed CCW, and now carry a Glock 23 when visiting Nevada.
What does the Second Amendment mean to me? It means that I am a citizen, and not a slave. It gives me the right to be an armed citizen. It means a heck of a lot more to me now that I own a gun.
What does owning a handgun mean to me? As a female, it means having an efficient way to compensate for discrepancies in size and strength since I have the Comfort of Skill at Arms.
What does the Comfort of Skill at Arms mean to me? It means being a better marksman, gun-handler and tactician than anyone who might attempt to harm my family.
What does Front Sight Firearms Training Institute mean to me? Front Sight Firearms Training Institute means everything to me. It is the place where I learned about the importance of the Second Amendment and its preservation, where I trained until I felt comfortable enough to have my own gun, and where I gained the Comfort of Skill at Arms.
At the July 4th First Family Reunion this year, Dr. Piazza invited all the wives of First Family members to come up to the front of the room and try to win a Handgun, Shotgun, or Rifle membership by playing an entertaining guessing game concerning firearms knowledge. At first, I was disappointed that I would not be able to win anything. Then, I realized that while memberships are great, the skills that may someday mean so much to my family had already been won – through the training I received at Front Sight.