A GIRL AT THE GUN RANGE: Never underestimate the power of a woman


By Rita Cook / News Editor

FERRIS – My motto is to do something I fear every day.

This past weekend I did that “big time” when I visited a local gun range to shoot both a pistol and a rifle.

My biggest fear when thinking of shooting a firearm was the recoil. 

I have shot pistols in the past, but I hated it because I guess the gun I was shooting never matched me.

So, fortunately this past weekend the three men who took me under their wings to show me how to shoot matched me with the perfect firearm.

Let me set the scenario for you regarding my journey to the gun range, which is called the Texas Defensive Shooting Academy. 

Firearms Instructor Lynn Baxley shows Rita Cook how to aim an AR-15.

Once you are off the main road in Ferris you drive down a few dirt roads, past some land that could compare with what I have seen driving in the bush in Africa and then more dirt roads and trees and shrubs.

It is hard to believe this place is only minutes away from Downtown Dallas.

When I arrived, this was like no gun range I had ever seen.  It is set up for real training exercises and I believe it is used by many of the country’s elite.

Even though I can’t tell the difference between an AK-47 and an AR-14 or 15 – well, I do know how to shoot a little bit better than I did before. 

Charles Hatfield, who also teaches a women-only gun class took the time along with Walter Weiss from the Ferris Police Department and Len Baxley, the owner of Texas Defensive Shooting Academy to put the gun and rifle in my hand, literally, and Baxley all but shot it for me during the first part of my training. 

I also learned while I was adamant I would only shoot a revolver, it turns out the semi-automatic handgun is more my style even if the shells do jump out at you after you fire the gun.

I also learned the AR-15 I was shooting had no recoil at all, which was surprising.

In fact, out of seven shots, I hit the target six times with rifle – not bad for a newbie with an AR-15 in her hands. 

And, the semi-automatic I was shooting thanks to Baxley loaning me one, well that one had little recoil as well.

The Texas Defensive Shooting Academy in Ferris was started in 1995. It provides members with a site to use their weapons in various scenarios and for personal firearm training. 

There are seven pistol bays, one Rifle Range 25 to 300 Yard and one Rifle Range 400 Yard only.  There is also a tactical vehicle movement range 200 yards, a three gun/mount city live fire range, a 40-foot tower with four floors, a 360-degree live fire enclosure, a .22 steel only bay and two classrooms.

You never know who you might see there either since when I arrived, I was just seconds from rubbing elbows with a well-known celebrity who will go unnamed.

Baxley is apparently known world-wide for this range, and the fact it was my first real shooting experience was amazing.

The next Texas Handgun License course is Saturday, Nov. 17 starting at 8;30.

Texas Licensed Handgun Instructor Charles Hatfield teaches the all-day course.

Class tuition of $75 includes classroom training, range qualification, target and range fees.

To enroll, call 214-402-3689.