She Can Shoot

Sam Horwitz is a former United States Secret Service agent with 13 years of law enforcement under her belt.

Gun ranges may typically be considered a man’s territory, but Bullet Trap is pulling the trigger on stereotypes and hosting a series of events aimed at introducing women to firearms.

Each “Female Shooter: Her Perspective” class hosted by the Plano gun range is part of a “She Can Shoot” meetup designed for females of all skill levels who are interested in firearms, shooting and self-defense.

“The overall purpose of the meetup is to really bring women from all different backgrounds who share a passion for firearms together, but also, from my end, expose them to what it means to be a responsible gun owner and how to be safe,” said Samantha Horwitz, president of the DFW chapter of She Can Shoot. “I incorporate self-defense and situational awareness into it. It’s a one-stop shop for anybody interested in firearms and self-defense.”

And Horwitz is much more than a gun enthusiast – with a resume that includes 13 years of law enforcement and time as a United States Secret Service agent, she knows a thing or two about protecting herself and others.

“Really, it’s about empowerment,” she said. “It’s giving [women] a choice. Not every woman is going to be comfortable protecting herself with a firearm of any type, so that’s why we do the self-defense. I feel it’s important. In Texas, my eyes got opened to a lot of ladies of all ages whose well-meaning boyfriends, husbands or partners say, ‘Hey, I'm on the road. Use this for protection,’ and you're giving someone a firearm who has no experience. ... They want to learn how to use it, and I just think it’s really important ... to be educated about what it means to have a firearm.”

Horwitz begins each meetup with a brief overview of basic gun safety, grips, stance and sight alignment. Private shooting on the range is available for newcomers who need extra help.

“[Horwitz] is great – she’s very easy to talk to, and it’s nice because she’s not intimidating and doesn’t make you think you’re incompetent or anything,” said Nicole Hutchins, who does the accounting and human resources for Bullet Trap. “She’s extremely knowledgeable and very passionate about protection and enjoyment. The most important thing is to be safe. She’s building this community in this area.”

Bullet Trap owner Ken Love said they started offering the class about five months ago on select Wednesday evenings, which is Ladies Night at the range.

“The reason we put it together was there’s not any place where the girls can get together and go shooting,” he said. “We’ve got lots of gun classes that are open to everybody, but when you get classes full of males that are gun people and you mix that with females that are not enthusiasts, it can get intimidating for them. This is a classroom full of girls, and they don't have to feel intimidated or under any pressure.”

Love said only about 10-12 percent of Bullet Trap’s regular shooters are women, a number he hopes will increase.

“I’d literally never been around guns until I started here,” Hutchins said. “I was intrigued at first, and of course intimidated, but I also wanted to be able to protect my family. I did the meetup a couple of times and then took our Intro. to Shooting class, which made me even more comfortable.”

Despite Horwitz’ intimidating background, Hutchins said she leaves women feeling quite the opposite.

“I always explain that the firearm is an extension of you – you own it, it doesn’t own you,” Horwitz said. “That’s taking away the mystique and the fear around it. I want them to walk out the door after being with me for an evening just really feeling a sense of empowerment and confidence.”

This is especially important for Horwitz, who experienced vulnerability first hand when she was inside Tower 1 when terrorists crashed an airplane into the building on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was like being in a war where there’s just pure chaos around you, but there’s no visible enemy to shoot back at,” she said. “It’s the most helpless feeling in the world because you can’t do anything, you can’t control anything. I was trained to eliminate the threat and control the situation.”

After making the heart-wrenching decision to leave the Secret Service due to the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Horwitz took some time to control her demons before returning to law enforcement. She moved to Rockwall from the east coast more than a year ago and enjoys time with her family – and shooting.

“No matter what I was doing, that [passion] never got out of me,” she said. “I like to say the more tools you have in your toolbox, the better. With each tool may come a learning curve, but if you’re ever in a situation – and I pray to God [you’re not] because I’ve been on the other side and I’ve had guns pointed at me – I hope you have the skills and are aware of your situation. ... God forbid if you need to pull your firearm to protect yourself or your family, you’ve got that tool as well.”

The next meetup is 7-9 p.m. Wednesday at Bullet Trap, 2608 K Ave. in Plano. Space is limited to the first 10-15 women who register, but Love said additional events will be scheduled.

Women are asked to wear close-toed shoes, bring ID and come with a sense of excitement. Unloaded firearms can be brought to the range; rental guns are also available.

In addition to free eye and ear protection, women will also receive the following discounts: $5 range fee, $5 gun rental and $1 off each box of ammo.

For information or to register, visit meetup.com/she-can-shoot-dfw.

For continued coverage, follow Brittany Feagans on Twitter.

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