Is there a sign that says “insult me” hanging somewhere over my head? I’m mulling over that possibility, because I’ve been through some of the weirdest incidents lately. I know that as a blonde, I hear a lot of tasteless jokes and snide remarks about how dimwitted “my kind” are. But did the guy at the car-rental desk really feel it was necessary to explain to me how a regular, old-fashioned car key (sans keyless entry fob) works? Did he think I would stand outside the vehicle, wondering where the buttons were? Granted, I am no car expert, but…really?

I’ve had some similar instances within the firearms community. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman. (Ladies: You’ll have to fill me in on any similar situations you’ve been through!) And I realize that I may not be the “typical” firearms instructor, whatever that is…or whatever that was. (There are still a lot of men in the industry, but there are a lot of women nowadays, as well.) And maybe I don’t always sport the “look” of a firearms instructor, whatever that’s supposed to be. But that’s just part of who I am. It doesn’t make me any less serious about teaching…or learning. And while I accept the fact that I’m not yet knowledgeable or comfortable enough in my journey to lead some types of advanced-level shooting courses, I do feel that I have a lot to offer my students.

So it was a little unnerving to show up to an instructor certification class a few weeks ago and have some guy say to me, “Wow, little lady. You gonna get out there and show all those neophyte women how to shoot?”

“Little lady” and “neophyte women.” Those were two noteworthy phrases.

But I think I was insulted and inspired at the same time.…

I was taken aback for fairly obvious reasons. I’m no fan of being called “little lady.” I’m 6 feet tall, so, that belittling statement (no pun intended) is usually not in reference to my height. But I was also a bit concerned with the “neophyte women.” Was this some kind of criticism or ridicule that a female instructor is automatically limited or categorized just because she is a female? I know numbers of dedicated women instructors who are teaching some hard-core classes! As well, I know plenty of ladies who are teaching all men or mixed classes…not just classes for ladies.

On the other hand, however, I was reinvigorated by this guy’s statement…because it truly is one of the main drives in my life to help women become comfortable and confident with firearms. And I am very proud of that—and of anyone who strives to do the same! I realize that a lot of women prefer to learn with (and from) other women. They thrive in that environment. There’s no ego involved in an all-female class, and women instructors can often make those hard-to-learn topics easier to grasp because they’re more patient and nurturing, and they’re ready and able to use examples that other women can relate to and understand.

To be honest, I’m not 100 percent sure what that fellow instructor was trying to say to me; whether his question truly was a crack at me or just an innocent statement. So I won’t hold it against him. But it did make me think, and it did make me thankful for all the other women in our industry who are blazing these trails and who are really making a difference in the lives of both new and experience shooters…regardless of their gender.