Detroit, MI — Legally Armed in Detroit (LAID) is a gun rights advocacy group that recently organized and conducted a firearm safety training program for 1,400 southeast Michigan women to be introduced to fundamental firearm safety and marksmanship.
Rick Ector, the event’s founder and National Rifle Association (NRA) credentialed trainer, enlisted the support and assistance from over 70 credentialed firearm instructors and range safety officers (RSOs) from not only Michigan but 12 other states to safely conduct the training.
Visiting instructors, RSOs, sponsors, and vendors came from the following states to participate in the event: FL (1), GA (2), IL (4 ), IN (2), LA (1), MO (1), NY (3), OH (8), PA (1), SD (2), TX (1), and VA (1).
Ector launched this program in 2012 after viewing a local story on the news in which it was reported that a woman’s body was recovered on a street; she was sexually assaulted and killed. Ector spoke with a few fellow firearm instructors and hatched a plan to train interested women about personal protection for free.
A local gun range agreed to host the event for free. Ector invested personal funds to cover the cost of ammunition and targets. All participating instructors allowed the women participants to use their firearms. Although only 50 women attended the event, Ector was determined to organically grow the program via social media and fundraising.
After this last iteration of free firearm training for women conducted this year on the dates of July 29th and July 30th, the program’s lifetime total number of ladies trained is 9,000.
How The Program Works
Ector publicizes the program with social media posts and press release submissions to the local media. Interested women are directed to a website to register for the event without cost. All participants are given a date and time to report to a participating gun range.
Once the women arrive at the range, they are directed to a classroom for their range safety briefing. The training was designed for participants who have no prior firearm handling knowledge or shooting experience. After they have been briefed, the ladies are paired up one-on-one with a vetted and credentialed firearms trainer.
After the women shoot, they are given feedback on their performance and are invited to seek out additional training info from program vendors located onsite. It is customary for us to get feedback from the ladies about their experiences. In an effort to continuously improve the program, the following feedback from some of the ladies are recounted below.
Feedback From Program Participants
“My name is Keyra Morris. I am a Detroit native – born and raised on the Eastside. I participated in the LAID program with over a thousand women with the goal to learn how to protect ourselves in the line of fire. Never using a firearm before made me nervous that I would never be able to use it properly. With the help of LAID I was able to test for the DPD range test and pass. LAID gave me the confidence I needed to be the best for my community. After Tanisha (Moner) introduced me to the ‘Women of Detroit’ I realized that I had a big support team and with that I was able to pass my test to become the next female Detroit police officer. I don’t think I would have been able to do it without the staff and women encouraging me and believing in me. Thank you, LAID for all your help and support.” – Ms. Keya Morris, Detroit, August 12, 2023
“I thoroughly enjoyed attending the 12th Annual LAID Women’s Shooting Event. The lecture on firearms and safety was very informative. In the past I was afraid to handle or fire guns, but this training event put me totally at ease. After receiving the lecture and personal instruction from a firearms training coach, I was confidently firing and hitting my target. Any woman who desires gun training would benefit from attending this event in the future!” – Ms. Donna R. Christian, Detroit, August 11, 2023
“I have attended Rick’s free women’s event off and on (because of Covid) since around 2012/2013. I keep returning because (1) It’s FREE (2) I always walk away with pointers that help me become a better shooter (3) His gun range expert friends are fun, friendly, and knowledgeable (4) It’s a chance to meet other women interested in gun ownership and safety (5) You can talk to various vendors that participate. Hope to see you next year, Rick and friends!” – Ms. Shelly Samuels, Detroit, August 11, 2023
“So I did a thing yesterday! Pretty good for the first time according to the trainers! Now I know how to protect myself and my family and found a new hobby at the same time! It was great connecting with other women and bonding over shared experiences! Thank you to Rick Ector and the sponsors for putting together this free ladies only event! #ResponsibleGunOwnership” – Ms. Joi Danielle, Detroit, July 31, 2023
“I am a day late but I want to give a ‘shout out’ to this man right here Rick Ector and his entire team for organizing another successful FREE Ladies Shooting event in Taylor, MI. It was hosted at both Recoil and Top Gun at the same time. So many instructors from all over came to volunteer their time to this event.
In our group we had a phenomenal speaker share her story about overcoming her fear of shooting and of guns by getting this training and moving forward with getting certified in many areas when it comes to gun safety and carrying.
Almost 16 years ago Rick heard about a case where a woman was shot and killed, thrown into a field and was tired of hearing such stories. He had the desire to do something about it! To teach women how to shoot to stop the threat. He had nothing to start with but on himself went to several instructors and shooting ranges to ask for help. Not a lot of people wanted to work for free. He did not stop at any ‘NO.’ With resilience he kept trying. He started with four instructors and had 50 ladies show up to his first event. The event grew year to year to 2,000 women during one year. It’s an example of how amazing it is for one person to have a vision and a community coming together to make something happen!
My instructor was from Chicago and absolutely helped me overcome my fears. I had an incident a few years ago that really gave me PTSD over guns and hearing a gunshot. She really helped me through it. Great program. Hope more women come with me next year!” – Ms. Ashley Aggi, Detroit, August 11, 2023.
Many Hands Make Light Work
A popular aphorism suggests that having adequate manpower resources will enhance one’s goal of getting a project completed. As such, there is no way that this program could have accomplished its goal to train over 1,000 women without help. Project team members and sponsors shared their feedback with us.
“When asked to join in teaching over 1,000 freedom exercising residents of Detroit how to shoot; I said “Yes.” With support of family and a fellow instructor friend riding shotgun, we drove 600 miles to the Motor City. There was a sincerity and need in each face and story that justified our efforts. Ladies who are choosing to be the first responder for themselves and their families. These are American Values!” – Mr. Charlie R. Beers, New York, August 11, 2023 (NRA Board of Directors)
“The DC Project, a nationwide organization of women advocating for our gun rights, proudly supported Rick’s shooting event for women held in July at Top Gun Shooting Sports and Recoil Firearms in Taylor. It warmed my heart, as Michigan Director, to see nervous ladies line up to go in – who came out with big smiles, excitement and lots of new confidence. Join us free at DCProject.info. Help put the face of women on gun ownership.” – Ms. Marcy Desmond Jankovich, Michigan, August 11, 2023 (Michigan Director of DC Project)
Safety Is The Most Important Aspect Of This Event
Ensuring a safe firearm training program for new shooters requires numerous credentialed instructors and range safety officers. There were zero injuries during this two-day event. This program is indebted to the following trainers for their participation and strict adherence to safety protocols:
Enriquito Acea (MI), Glenn Arnold (MI), Donna Arrasate (IL), Brian Barnard (MI), Joshua Barth (MI), Charlie Beers (NY), Gary Bennett (MI), Lori Blackwell (IL), Pavel Blinderman (MI), Ryan Brown (MI), Rob Campbell (OH), Aaron Cobb (MI), Patrick Collins (GA), Audrée Danielson (MI), Brian Darlas (MI), Kenna Davis (MI), Jason DeAngelis (NY), Jennifer DeVitto (IL), John Edeen (TX), Mandi Ehler (IL), Esteban Espino-Johnson (MI), Rhonda Ezell (IL), Dwayne Flees (MI), Aimee Garcia (MI), Dana Gayer (MO), David Glenn (GA), Mark Haaseth (MI), Joshua Hagen (MI), Douglas Holloway (MI), CJ Chasefu Jacobs (MI), Marcy Jankovich (MI), Drew Johnson (MI), Johnnie Johnson (MI), Bill Karczewski (MI), Drew Kilbourn (MI), Chad King (MI), Chad Lab (MI), Diontaye Land (MI), Paul Lathrop (SD), Susan Lathrop (SD), Nick Laurino (IN), William Lee (MI), Jeff Lipp (MI), Amy Lucas (MI), Will Luker (MI), Dana Lupher (MI), Andre Macon (MI), Matt Mallory (NY), Scott Marcott (MI), Raymond Massenberg (MI), Rod Mills (FL), Tanisha Moner (MI), Tony Moore (MI), José Morales (PA), Rob Morse (LA), Ted Nelson (MI), Alex Ooley (IN), Joshua Paul (MI), Abby Petticord (OH), Candy Petticord (OH), Daniel Petticord (OH), Jim Petticord (OH), Michael Petticord (OH), Naomi Petticord (OH), Dino Prapas (MI), Leonard Quinn (MI), Almita Reeves (MI), David Roznowski (MI), Charles Simmons III (MI), Amanda Suffecool (OH), Steven Taylor (MI), Carl Trombetta (MI), and Ron Zelyez (MI).
This year’s event ran smoothly due to the attention to detail in the supervision of the shooting activities at both ranges over the entire weekend. Amy Lucas served as Chief Range Safety Officer (CRSO) at Top Gun Shooting Sports and both Will Luker and Raymond Massenberg served as CRSOs at Recoil Firearms.
Further, the student participants were given their group range safety briefings by Chief Training Officer (CTO) Audrée Danielson at Top Gun Shooting Sports. The role of CTO at Recoil Firearms was handled by Tanisha Moner. Finally, Ector led and conducted the daily safety briefings for instructors and RSOs at Top Gun Shooting Sports on both days of the event.
Moner also merits special recognition for coordinating firearm instructor location assignments for the entire weekend at both ranges and for being responsible for conducting the daily range briefings for RSOs and firearm instructors at the Recoil Firearms range.
Moner shared the following about this year’s training event, “This has been yet another year of educating women with the basic skills needed to begin their personal protection journey. We had 1,400 amazing ladies accept the offer and each and every one of them left with a level of awareness that they had previously not experienced. The sense of accomplishment shone through on every face and it’s truly what I love about this event. The feeling I get as an instructor and witness to those moments cannot be put into words. I’m already looking forward to next year when we’ll do it all over again!”
Please Support Our Sponsors – Their Support Was Crucial
An event of this size and scope depends heavily upon the generosity of organizational and commercial donors. The following entities were instrumental in making this year’s event a success.
- A. Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners (MCRGO) was the sole ammunition sponsor for the event. Their donation was crucial in the acquisition of 30,000 rounds of 9mm FMJ cartridges. The Gun Food LLC of Georgia was selected as the sole ammunition supplier for their positions on quality, delivery, and cost.
“The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners (www.mcrgo.org) is proud to continue our support of the annual free training event for women put on by Rick Ector and LAID. Our mission is to support firearms rights via legislation, litigation, and education. This event is an outstanding example of education. Congratulations, Mr. Ector, and your team, on another safe, successful event. We feel fortunate to be able to buy ammo for these new shooters. Welcome to the shooting community!”
– Steve Dulan, Member MCRGO Board of Directors
- B. Michigan Gun Owners (MGO), a gun rights advocacy group, donated 1,500 paper target silhouettes for the students to shoot at the event.
- C. National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) provided 1,000 pairs of earplugs, assisted with promotional emails, and provided a monetary donation that was used to acquire necessary safety glasses.
- D. Gun Owners of America (GOA) continued their perpetual support of this program by equipping the event with 1,000 bottles of water to keep staff and event participants properly hydrated. GOA also sponsored a meal for all event staff at a local restaurant after the event closed to the public. Moreover, GOA also helped to promote the event via social media.
“For over a decade, Gun Owners of America has been honored to help sponsor Rick Ector’s firearms training for women. The courts have routinely held that the police are not duty bound to protect any particular individual, no matter how many threats they’ve received. So ‘hats off’ to Rick for helping empower women—all for free—because many of these women would never have sought out training on their own without an event like this which is geared specifically for women.” – Erich Pratt, Executive Vice President of Gun Owners of America
- E. ATEi (American Tool & Engraving Inc.) provided the use of its 9mm semi-automatic pistols for the ladies to shoot at Recoil Firearms.
- F. Top Gun Shooting Sports of Taylor, MI provided free use of its gun range and meeting rooms for two days. It also provided free use of 9mm pistols for women to use during their training. Furthermore, it also catered food and refreshments for event volunteers during the entire weekend event on its premises.
- G. Recoil Firearms of Taylor, MI provided free use of its gun range and meeting rooms for two days.
- H. Firearms Legal Protection (FLP) provided lunch and snacks for event staff at Recoil Firearms for the entire weekend. Spencer Johnson, FLP Director of Sales, shared his thoughts on sponsoring the event as the following:
“I wanted to take a moment to express our deep appreciation for the incredible work you are doing to empower and uplift the women’s community. We are grateful for our continued partnership and to sponsor you event. From the outset of our partnership, we were drawn to the alignment of your values and objectives. Your unwavering commitment to creating a platform that fosters growth, education, and empowerment for women resonates deeply with our own mission. We firmly believe that by providing women with the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to continue to protect themselves, we contribute to building a stronger, more inclusive society for everyone.”
In closing, Rick Ector – the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the LAID Free Shooting Event for Women- has these final words:
“Another iteration of this program has come and gone. In the aftermath, I am immensely proud of what the entire team has accomplished. Ostensibly, another 1,400 women have been trained in fundamental gun safety and have been inoculated against anti-firearm bias in their communities and in the media.
Moreover, this program achieved yet another milestone – it has now cumulatively trained over 9,000 ladies since its founding 12 years ago. We also continued our 12 year streak of never having anyone injured at our event. Our continued vigilance will ensure that we continue to operate safely. Hopefully, many of the women will continue their training and eventually acquire Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPLs).
Finally, this annual recap marks not only the end of this year’s event but it also kicks off the planning for next year. I look forward to receiving and witnessing our 10,00th trained woman operator.”