All-female self-defense class in Latrobe aims to cut risk of attack
Linda Thomas said that after six hours of training, a woman in her self-defense class was no longer afraid of firearms.
“By the end of the day, she was one hot mama and was operating her gun very well,” she said.
Thomas, 54, of New Alexandria was one of about 10 women in the class limited to that size by instructor Jim Gregg.
A police officer since 1998 and a firearms instructor with the Pennsylvania State Police since 2006, Gregg started the Armed Women Attacker Response Education program last year.
At first, Gregg was asked to train other officers' wives who were interested in proper firearms training and self-defense; then as a part of his company, Urban Survivor, he opened it to the public.
The class teaches first-firearm ownership — beginning with the very basics for women who have never picked up a gun — then covers safety, principles of marksmanship, basic self-defense and use of pepper spray.
Gregg said the most important skills are “situational awareness.”
“It basically means your mind is your most important weapon,” he said. “We can't stop bad things from happening to us, but we can take steps to minimize that risk.”
Bianca Fagen, who took one of the first A.W.A.R.E. classes in April, said she appreciated how knowledgeable Gregg and the other instructors were.
“He has such a passion for this,” said Fagen of Unity. “I'm glad I did it. ... I'm definitely much more confident.”
Fagen said she feels more prepared for the unexpected after spending time in the class.
“I know that I am able to protect my family, and I would put up one hell of a fight,” she said.
Taking night classes at Westmoreland County Community College and working as a receptionist, Jodi Musick said she wanted to take the class to help be more proactive than reactive, if a violent situation would arise.
“I just wanted to be aware of what to do in case I'm ever put in a situation like that,” said the 20-year-old from Unity.
Amy Bowser said she had used a gun before but wanted to feel more comfortable preparing for an emergency, so she signed up for the September class.
“We live in times where, if people want something bad enough, they are so brazen today,” said Bowser, 39, of Windber.
Just the existence of the class may make people think twice before attempting a crime, therefore making the entire community safer, she said.
Even though her husband is in law enforcement, Bowser said taking the class with other women helps make it more comfortable to ask questions.
Women can try different types of firearms and determine which one might be the best “fit” for them, Gregg said. Depending on age, skill, body size and type, women may feel more confident according to the type of gun they use.
The next class is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 20 in the Army and Navy Store, 800 Ligonier St., Latrobe. Registration is required; call Gregg at 724-331-7521.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.