Sophie Chen: The Evolution of a New Shooter

She is the poster child for the equalizing factor of guns. She is also a paragon of restraint in the use of force. She continually trains and improves her ability to defend herself.

A collapsible stock allowed Sophie to get a proper cheek weld with the M4 carbine.

Throughout her life, Sophie Chen has endeavored to do right by others.

A biochemistry researcher by education, she also volunteers extensively. Since 2000, Sophie has taught English in Mexico, tutored English as a second language (ESL) to Persian and Iraqi refugees in Nashville, and conducted Sunday school for kids.

 

Slight of stature and build, [Sophie] is the poster child for the equalizing factor of guns.

 

A sunny, cheery young lady, Sophie sees the best in all people she meets. Her view of personal safety had been equally positive. She was quite safe, she told her friends. “Besides,” she wrote, “I already have the sword of the Spirit and the armor of God.” Her friends concurred, either sharing her conviction or deferring to her certainty.

I invited her to the range a few times and she always said, “Sounds interesting, but I don’t have time for shooting.” Once, she asked me if I was armed, and upon seeing the guns, was quite disconcerted. We had only discussed firearms online once before meeting in person. She thought me to be a crazy, paranoid guy who needed to forget about guns and to stop worrying. Living in Nashville, Sophie never even thought about bad people trying to hurt her.

Sophie Chen: In a world where most handguns are still designed to fit the average to large adult male hand, shooters with hands as small as Sophie’s have an uphill battle with finding guns to fit.

In a world where most handguns are still designed to fit the average to large adult male hand, shooters with hands as small as Sophie’s have an uphill battle with finding guns to fit.

In 2006, Sophie decided to go to law school. She got a scholarship to Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis, and made ready to move. Quite a few of her friends said worrisome things about crime in Memphis, so Sophie took an unarmed self-defense class. In it, she learned to fight back with her bare hands. She gained useful skills, but she also discovered that a four feet eleven girl massing ninety pounds would be outmatched by much larger attackers.

Later that year, Sophie accepted an invitation to go to the range. “No harm in going just once to learn the basics,” she thought. She learned the basic safety rules, how to hold a pistol and use the sights. Firing on balloons and other reactive targets was fun. Sound suppressors provided by companies Advanced Armament, and ETS, made early marksmanship training easier by eliminating the flinch-inducing report.

Shortly thereafter, Steve Fisher of Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute came to teach in Tennessee. Sophie was among the students. In her own words: “Fun, fun, fun! I learned to shoot a million different ways: dominant hand, non-dominant hand, on the move. I got to shoot so many different guns and practice a lot. Steve made shooting guns exciting, yet made me feel like my life depended on learning how to shoot.”

 

She gained useful skills, but she also discovered that a four feet eleven girl massing ninety pounds would be outmatched by much larger attackers.

 

We discovered that the Smith & Wesson M&P pistol with its user-configurable grip fit Sophie’s tiny hands better than other models—though she also used Glocks effectively. She learned the basics of shooting the carbine as well, first with a rimfire rifle, then with an AR-15. Steve, a talented and knowledgeable instructor, loved doing his part to enable tiny, inoffensive Sophie to develop the Valkyrie facet of her personality.

As Sophie began her three year stay in Memphis, her friends continued to worry about her. A petite, attractive, single woman living in a city known for violent crime would be safe only so long as her luck held out.

Sophie had firm faith in God and Providence, but some of her friends were less certain. After a while, she began asking them questions about personal safety, the ethics of use of force, and gun control. On the urging of her friends, she found herself at the women’s introductory firearm course at Rangemaster.

Having been away from guns for several months, Sophie found that basic course invaluable. The instructors were kind, and patient women who made the novices comfortable learning intimidating technical skills. The course reiterated the fundamentals of loading and unloading pistols, sight alignment, and malfunction drills. Rangemaster staff also demonstrated how unlikely it is that the thinly stretched Memphis emergency services can arrive in time at the scene of a violent crime.

Tactical Training: Sound suppressors made early marksmanship training easier by eliminating the flinch-inducing report.

Sound suppressors made early marksmanship training easier by eliminating the flinch-inducing report.

After that course Sophie took a two day carry permit class at Rangemaster. Firing a loaner Kahr P9 pistol, she discovered a preference for Glock triggers, with their short reset. She enjoyed the Level I course enough to sign up for the Level II. Lest anyone think that she was now serious about shooting, she excused her enthusiasm: “I only signed up because it was $50 off for returning students, I already have all the equipment, and I like learning this stuff.”

Having learned safe handling and marksmanship, Sophie is now learning safe storage and carry, as well as maintenance of firearms. Fortunately, her friends support her enthusiastically in her quest for self-sufficiency in personal defense. Finding holsters and other accessories to fit her was also a challenge. Her short stature and curvy hips made most conventional holsters stand out noticeably. For now, she is using Alessi Talon holsters with Kahr P9 and Glock 26 pistols, but K&D Holsters offered to provide her with a custom M&P Compact holster suitable to her body shape.

Sophie has been open about her learning progress with her friends. They found her informative and several expressed an interest in following her lead. Slight of stature and build, she is the poster child for the equalizing factor of guns. Ever concerned with humane and Christian treatment of all people, even criminals, she is also a paragon of restraint in the use of force. As she continues to train and improve her ability to defend herself and those dear to her, her friends can breathe a sigh of relief.


CONTACTS:

Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute
www.michigantrainer.com
Rangemaster
www.rangemaster.com

 

[Oleg Volk (olegvolk.net) is a creative director, a photographer and a graphic designer. He has been promoting the right to bear arms since 1995, when he opened his website, www.a-human-right.com. Currently, he runs a firearms forum at www.thehighroad.org, creates numerous pro-freedom posters and looks for a compatible life-mate. ]

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