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Women’s shooting school opens

Pat Patera

The Women’s Shooting Academy is the latest in a string of self-defense businesses launched this spring in the wake of the Brianna Denison murder.

But academy owner and certified pistol instructor Vicki Kawelmacher was prompted by entirely different reasons.

Two men attempted to abduct her 10-year-old daughter outside their Reno home. Two men robbed and brutally beat her 27-year-old son at his home in Sacramento. And a man in a long black trench coat menaced Kawelmacher and her husband while they vacationed at the coast.

Now Kawelmacher teaches daylong self-defense classes for six women every Saturday. She trained under local instructors Tony Klein and Ken Walls and is certified through the National Rifle Association.

She’s also certified to teach personal protection inside the home. But she was stalled in her quest to win certification as a teacher in personal protection outside the home when she was called at 3 a.m. to be at her son’s side at the hospital emergency room in Sacramento. She intends to complete the training another weekend.

Kawelmacher licensed Womens Shooting Academy in January and rolled out the first class in April. Students devote half a day to classroom instruction followed by shooting practice at ranges at Virginia City and Derby Dam, 25 miles east of Reno on Interstate 80.

Women pay $110 to train on revolvers and semi-automatic weapons.

The typical student is over 40, Kawelmacher says, and includes a couple of older widows who wanted to train on the handguns left by their spouses. Juveniles must be at least 16 to enroll in class alongside of their mothers. One must be 21 to get a concealed carry permit.

She’s had requests for co-ed classes, and plans to add one a month for women who want to train with a spouse. A Nevada Concealed Carry Course is set for June.

Kawelmacher markets by word of mouth and by leaving business cards at sporting goods and gun shops.

“My passion is being a wife and mother,” she says. “I want to keep the business small and intimate. Keep it as a service to the community.”


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