A gun-scared woman enters a properties shooting range

An afternoon of Like a Lady Firearms training
By Kathryn Bertodatto | January 30, 2021

Guns scare me. I didn’t grow up around them, my parents don’t hunt, and my dad doesn’t have enough enemies to justify keeping them for self-defense. Guns polarize – they have become a political symbol. Love her and you are right; hate her and you’re left. Write about it and you are an idiot likely alienating half the population. Hello, my name is Katy and I’m a writer, so … help me God.

Alycia Pollotta owns Like a Lady Firearms Training, a Traverse City-based company open to all but aiming to teach women – fear of gunfire and gun possession – safety, confidence, and dexterity in firearms.

The slogan on their website: “Because we were trained to shoot before we could vote.” Strong. To the point. I am fascinated. I’m calling a dear friend who happens to be on the other side of the political spectrum than me. You and I discussed everything from the minimum wage to abortion, and you know what – we’re still good friends. That happens when you respect each other’s integrity and intelligence.

We have never talked about firearms, however, and that brings me to breaking gun stereotype # 1: my friend is nervous about firearms too. Color me shocked. I decide to call Pollotta and shoot.

The Like a Lady training studio is located on Pollotta’s property. She has a piece of land that we can safely shoot live rounds on, but the weather isn’t cooperating and freezing rain is apparently just as good for firearms as it is for people. For this reason, Pollotta has invested in a “smoke free” system for indoor use and we will make use of it. If you think an indoor area is like a video game, it is not. More on that later. The first thing I notice when I go into the area is the relaxing smell of essential oils in the air. Weapon stereotype No. 2, broken. Seems like gunmen and places don’t have to smell like Dirty Harry.

Pollotta, who served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a certified instructor with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners (MCRGO), provides state-required training for clandestine gun license applicants (CPL), and enjoys martial arts Art – specifically Krav Maga, the self-defense and combat system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that combines techniques such as aikido, boxing, wrestling, judo and karate.

She’s also a pretty little Italian who doesn’t believe that you have to put your femininity aside to function or succeed in a predominantly male industry. She tells me that she has plans to paint her gun pretty teal because it “makes her heart happy”.

The next thing I notice in the exercise studio is a whiteboard that says, “If you ALWAYS follow ALL the safety rules, you will NEVER have a gun accident.” Pollotta, who has a masters degree in communications from Michigan State University, says, she spends a lot of time teaching her children that nothing is absolute. Security is taken very seriously here and despite my nerves I feel safe in this room.

Pollotta takes the time to explain the difference between each weapon and how it works. She explains that you should never let anyone hand you a loaded gun. She stresses that you should know how a gun works and be able to load it yourself. If you can’t load it, she said, you don’t fully understand and shouldn’t handle it. Pollotta is passionate and charismatic about what she does. She is aware and thoughtful about her messaging and teaching methods. Your course is both fun and educational.

And then you can shoot guns.

Because I was really good at Duck Hunt (if I went all the way to the TV screen with the plastic gun) I thought I was pretty good at virtual shooting. But shooting at Pollotta’s smoke-free range is as fast as Duck Hunt. The range, while virtual, allows shooters to use actual firearms that are loaded with laser “bullets”. The rounds are not live so there is no kick, but the handguns are not easy so it all feels very real.

When I go into the fire for the first time, my hands shake. I am calm and keep my face straight, but I cannot control the physiological response of my hands to holding a gun.

Pollotta takes time to talk to me through my shakiness. I am not afraid of the gun; Your explanation of the mechanics, physics, and safety precautions displaced my fear of the gun itself. My hands are shaking because shooting is alien and I’m afraid I won’t hit the target. It’s not the gun; It’s my own debilitating perfectionism. I make a mental note to call a therapist and then pull the trigger. And I hit the target.

The virtual target shows where you hit so you know what adjustments need to be made. Breathe, follow through, learn to shoot with two eyes open so that you don’t lose your periphery, practice. Check your ego at the door and Pollotta will get you a better shot regardless of your experience or discomfort.

Weapons are not glorified at Pollotta’s training studio. They are defenses that deserve proper training and respect. I entered Like a Lady Firearm Training with a fear of something that could potentially kill you. I went with a healthy respect for firearms and boundless admiration and respect for what Alycia Pollotta is trying to do: empower women through education and instruction.

Would you like to learn more?
Like a Lady Firearms Training is located in Traverse City. While Pollotta’s clandestine pistol license courses are open to both men and women, her mission is to provide women who are less experienced with firearms (shotgun, pistol, rifle) the opportunity to study in a stress-free, fun, and encouraging environment .

It offers small group and tailor-made private courses, courses for youth safety and pistols as well as several special clinics – including gun cleaning, drawing from a holster and “self-defense for mom and me” (for mothers and children from 5 years). This is where situational awareness, dangers to strangers, and contingency planning strategies are taught, while both are trained in self-defense skills that they execute in made-up scenarios. Many clinics and courses can also be organized off-site. To see all of the offers, visit likealadyfirearmstraining.com.

Not your father’s gun club
Pollotta started the second chapter of the state’s national shooting league “A Girl & A Gun” in Traverse City in 2019. A shooting club founded by women’s shooters, AG & AG events are “social gatherings where you receive firearms training and encouragement, ask questions in a safe and non-judgmental environment, improve your accuracy and make new friends. “For more information on the national league, visit agirlandagun.org. Contact Pollotta via likealadyfirearmstraining.com for information on the Traverse City chapter, the 127th in the nation.

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