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Shoot, Survival / March 27, 2016

That’s No BB Gun: A Woman’s Guide to the Handgun

Written by: Roxanne Trujillo

A few years ago, I asked my sweet ginger pops if he would teach me how to shoot a handgun. Exploding with excitement he was driving me to the shooting range 5 mins later. “Wait Dad! Let me change out of my chamois!”

My first time experiencing a kick back had me all feeling like I was in the Matrix,  “Whaaaaaaaa, I’m being blown backwards in sloooooow moooootion”! Just kidding. It is surprising how powerful that kick back a handgun can be at first, but you learn how to control and prepare for it, part of the challenge of shooting. My motivation for learning was I wanted to know if I ever found myself in a scenario such as a Skittle shoot out, I would win. Skittles for life! Actually, my motivation for learning handgun handling were:

  1. I’m a single mom, and I wanted to be confident enough to not shoot myself in the foot if I ever needed to protect my daughter and self. Not because I was scared, but because knowledge is power.
  2. The skills required for shooting are like yoga. Controlled breathing and stillness is what I was getting at. Shooting is a challenge. I like challenges.
  3. I secretly wanted to have the skillls of a Quentin Tarantino character.


I remember the first time I shot a 22, I hit the center of the target. I looked up at my friend who had binoculars to watch where my bullet went, he looks at me and says “Well Rox, you are what we call an A shooter.” I replied with a smile “I like getting A’s.”

The first handgun I shot was a .357 magnum revolver at the shooting range with my pops. Before I took my first shot, I cried. Yep, me, who prides myself on being a “badass” cried. Like a little wimp. Now you are probably envisioning some little blonde at the range weeping and saying “Dad, I can’t do it, I’m scarrrred”! It was not that extreme. I held my handgun aiming at the target, steading my breath and preparing for the kick back. In that moment, I was overwhelmed that I had something powerful enough to take a person’s life in my hands, and my eyes got watery.  It’s not something that I believe should be taken lightly.


““I’m sorry, you want me to shoot that tiny little circle in the center? Can’t you give me something to aim at that’s the size of say…an elephant”? ”

I learned how to shoot from two people. My Dad and my friend Zsolt. Zsolt taught me on 7 different guns. I spent many hours, and ammo [Cha-Ching] mastering my shooting ability with his teachings. I felt that if I was going to ask to be taught, it was going to be by someone incredibly knowledgeable about guns. There are many people out there who own guns and in my book, that didn’t make them worthy of teaching me. I wanted a resume! I needed to trust them as a person, hear how they spoke of weapons, their usage of weapons, storage of weapons, and safety practiced with weapons. I found it important that a person sat me down, informed me of all protocols of handling a weapon i.e.; how it operates, proper way of holding a gun when in use and when not in use. The basic parts such as; how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition, safety locks, and the appropriate protection to wear before letting me touch a gun. That’s why I choose the two people that I did.

After much time spent practicing, I now own a handgun. I own a Taurus 38 Revolver.  I choose a revolver for the following reasons:

  • Simplicity of handling; revolvers take a minimum of training to learn to use. They have a long and hard trigger pull, which prevents accidently pulling the trigger. This acts as its safety feature, avoiding levers and buttons.
  • I found it easier to swing out a cylinder than to rack a slide [I’m a climber, and still have trouble racking a slide]. Semi pistols require racking the slide back, which is tough. I’m not saying women can’t do it, but for me, if I had to move quickly, I’d much rather push out a cylinder than potentially get caught up or pinch my fingers in a slide. Though, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider has it dialed.
  • I like that I could swing out the cylinder and check if it was loaded simply by sight and feel.
  • Fast handling; one puts cartridges in the holes of the cylinder, closes it and pulls the trigger.
  • They are relatively dependable and user friendly. No jamming and easy to shoot. Revolvers are known to have better accuracy at greater distances.
  • I like the kick back, the backward momentum of a gun when it’s discharged. With a 38 revolver, there is enough of a kick back to feel the power of the gun, but not enough to knock you on your butt. It’s a kickback that can be controlled instead of being scared in anticipation of it.
  • I fantasied about owning the gun an old woman would carry in her purse.
  • 38 revolvers are ranked in the best defensive calibers.


I feel it’s important for a female to feel confident in handling weapons, which comes with practice and time.  The sport of shooting seems to be male dominated.  Guns are intimidating and controversial, I get it. As a woman I didn’t want to pick up the skill so I could go boasting all over Facebook that I could shoot a gun. I just didn’t want to have to rely on a man to protect me if Bill showed up. If you’re wanting to become more knowledgeable of guns, and you don’t have a sweet ginger pops, I would suggest calling your local shooting range and inquiring what courses they offer in gun safety and shooting lessons. Another great option is calling your local gun dealer.  The employees of a gun dealer are very informative and great guides on where to begin.


I keep a BB gun and sling shot in my trunk, so look out tiny little circle in the center…and Bill!

about the author

Roxanne Trujillo

Roxanne is a Coloradical single track slayer, crux seeking, pow loving, thrill taking mom of a child that's comparably wild. Armed with enthusiasm and good coffee, she devotes herself to the outdoors and keeping pace with her adorable and energetic daughter. She is an ambassador for RaceFace, a V-something climber and goes by Birdy. She fantasizes often about throwing herself, daughter, friends and bikes in a Sprinter wrapped in #canvasthetoddler and peeling out to chase the mundo hermoso.

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