I still remember the first time I met Linda Harris. Years ago, some co-workers and I were at the Harris’ home (we had been training at nearby SIG Sauer Academy), and she had made us venison chili for dinner. Of course, I almost felt like I knew her already since I had heard so many amazing stories about her from my friend and mentor George Harris, her husband. Every time George spoke of Linda, there was a sparkle in his eyes. And it wasn’t just because of her outward beauty; it was because of her inward beauty, her intelligence, her spunk and her fantastic ability to teach and reach people.
From the get-go, I completely admired that ability and wanted to learn more. Since I am passionate about teaching, I wanted to soak up every bit of knowledge from her, especially details on teaching women about firearms. The group brought up some general questions about shooting as we sat together to enjoy dinner.
As Linda found her seat at the table, she asked everyone, “What do you see when you press the trigger?” An answer leapt immediately into my brain: the front sight, of course! But that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. I sat for a moment, puzzled, contemplating what else one should be able to see when he or she is on target, aiming correctly and firing a gun. Linda explained that if you are going through the motions properly, you should see the muzzle flash and the empty cases flying past the gun.
I pondered Linda’s answer for a long time and wondered if I could really accomplish that. I had often seen the muzzle flash when shooting in darker conditions. But could I focus so greatly on that front sight and keep that trained eye in the right place during the entire process that I could actually see the empty cases?
Thankfully, it wasn’t much longer after that conversation with Linda that I had THE moment! I lined up my sights on target. I focused on my front sight. Then I really focused on the front sight. I pressed the trigger smoothly rearward until the gun fired. And I saw the shiny brass case fly out of the gun. I pressed again. Another case! I was stunned! I don’t know if I had never seen it before or if I had never really paid close enough attention. But in that moment, my focus was pure. My shots were perfectly on target. And in my mind, I thanked Linda for her wisdom.
Eventually, I had an opportunity to thank Linda in person when she and George and I were waiting at the Las Vegas airport for our flights back home from an industry trade show. It was a fantastic time to get to know her even better, to pick her brain and to be humbled by her request to get her USCCA Instructor and Training Counselor certifications from me. I am sad that I never had a chance to meet that request for her. But I am delighted that I got to know more about this fantastic female trainer who has been a role model in our industry.
The Linda Harris Memorial Scholarship
Linda Harris passed away at age 68 on Sept. 1, 2018. Undoubtedly, she was an outstanding instructor who dedicated herself and her career to training people to defend themselves. She was a woman of uncompromising class, integrity, kindness, knowledge and understanding. She was also a valued supporter of the USCCA. And I am so pleased that we have come together as an organization to honor Linda and her accomplishments with the Linda Harris Memorial Scholarship to encourage, recognize and assist female instructors who wish to expand their education in the field of firearms training.
I’m honored to have known Linda. Her legacy is as far-reaching as the many friends and colleagues she influenced during her career. And this scholarship is such an amazing way for the USCCA to recognize Linda’s contributions to our industry and to assist female firearms instructors who hope to continue Linda’s mission to share safe and responsible firearms ownership with others.
Applications for the 2020 Linda Harris Memorial Scholarship will be accepted beginning April 1, 2019, with a deadline of Dec. 1, 2019.