Pistol shooting proves popular

Women On Target program boosts confidence among students

Some came in trepidation, too scared to even hold a handgun, but after a day of learning, loading and shooting the borrowed pistols, they were ready to go shopping for their own. 

They were the 20 Cordova women who signed up for the Cordova Trap and Gun Club’s Women on Target courses, held in groups of 10 women each, on July 22 and July 23. 

The courses were funded via a $38,000 grant through the Friends of the National Rifle Association out of which $1,200 was applied to this year’s Women On Target program.  

Cost to students was $10 apiece. 

“The grant was a direct result from money raised during annual FNRA banquets held at the Powder House each August,” said CTGC board member Dan Logan. “Gary Graham, president of the Cordova Chapter FNRA, was instrumental in helping the local gun club receive the grant. He and Alaska FNRA rep Greg Stephens helped guide us, the Cordova Trap and Gun Club, through the grant application process. The CTGC actually applied for the grant, and we were awarded just over $38,000 for educational programs, youth shooting league, range improvements and more,” he said. 

The shooting curriculum is designed for women-only, specifically to teach firearm safety, boost confidence when it comes to safely handling and operating a firearm, and the fundamentals of marksmanship. The programs are offered through the National Rifle Association with the Women of the NRA. The Women on Target program offers separate classes for shotgun, rifle, or pistol instruction, said Logan. 


The Cordova classes were broken up into classroom instruction in the morning, and hands-on handgun practice at the club’s pistol range after lunch. 

“We decided to go with pistol because that’s where the most interest was,” Logan said. 

This is the third time the gun club has offered Women on Target courses in Cordova. Previous classes were held in 2011 and 2012. 

“By offering these classes, we hope to help women who are intimidated by guns learn how to be comfortable. We always start with the basics and want to offer more classes that will build on the previous class. Shooting sports are fun, and can be applied to personal safety. Cordova has, for the size of our town, an incredible facility and gun club,” Logan said. 

Lead instructor John Greenwood said he believed numerous goals were accomplished.  

“We had several ladies that were very timid, or even scared, to handle a gun,” he said. 

“By the end of the class, (they) were going home to shop for their own handguns. I think every one of them would feel confident going out to the range and shooting a handgun. Everyone learned how to safely handle firearms with confidence by understanding the parts of the pistol, how to handle it with care, and how to disarm it, and store it properly.  

“We were even able to break some habits like flinching, and poor trigger control. I believe we’ll be seeing more interest in shooting pistols. Everyone learned how to safely handle any gun and increased their skill level while having a good time,” he said. 

Greenwood said that the students’ level of improvement in a relatively short amount of time really stood out to him as an instructor. 

“Even after we dismissed the class, many ladies stuck around to continue shooting for another couple hours. We didn’t have any ammo left over,” he said. 

In addition to firearm safety and handgun anatomy, students learned about a variety of handguns.  

“We covered several types of handguns during the classroom portion, including revolvers versus semi-automatic handguns. On the range, everyone used a .357-revolver with .38-caliber ammunition.”  

Vivian Kennedy, a CTGC board member, volunteered as a safety aide for the courses.  

“Everyone was very pleased with the class and their own progress, and expressed interest to keep learning,” Kennedy said. “We’ve heard that a few want to attend a follow-up class to take it to the next level, and some have expressed interest in expanding (their skills) by starting to join our weekly skeet and trap shoots,” she said. 

The Cordova Trap and Gun Club organized as a group in 1983. Current board members are Jason Fode, president; Tom McGann, vice-president; John Greenwood, treasurer; Dick Groff, secretary; and directors Ardy Hanson, Dan Logan, Bob Berceli, Vivian Kennedy, and Nick Docken. 

For shooting enthusiasts of all skill levels, there’s more activities in the works. 

The club will offer a rifle sighting class this fall, and their annual turkey shoot will take place near Thanksgiving. Additionally, ongoing skeet and trap leagues take place on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings. 

“Members and non-members of any skill-level are always invited to come out to the range. If you want to volunteer, or are interested in joining the club, contact us on our Facebook page or email us,” Kennedy said.  

For more information, visit Women On Target online via wot.nra.org; Friends of the NRA at friendsofnra.org; the Cordova Trap and Gun Club at 424-SHOT (7468), via email at [email protected] or on the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/CDVTrapGun. 

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson
Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.