When you decide you want more…

Posted on Posted in Being A Woman, Perspectives, Stories, Training Notes

Are you a hobby shooter wanting more? When you go to a range, what are you practicing for…skill, defensive, or just out hangin’ around just to have fun! I was one that found myself going to indoor ranges to become a better aim, hit that center target and have fun while building my skills and then something clicked that I wanted more.

I started paying more attention, getting more serious about what I really wanted in my knowledge. Thinking long and hard about this hobby of mine and what I really wanted out of it. Do I just want to go to the gun range and shoot a hole in the center target or do I want to get serious about what I’m doing and go further, push myself, learn more, crave more, desire more?

At this point in my shooting skills, the want to move forward in learning the correct way of shooting hit me hard. Paying more attention to my stance, grip, trigger pull, front sights and target put me in the running for more knowledge and understanding the fundamentals. I noticed that I was craving more, something fun although structured in learning.

Being around the indoor range and always hearing about competition, it got me thinking…what really is competition? Now, I wanted to know more. I got myself into a women’s league and one of the facilitators does competition shooting along with a few women in the group and that piqued my curiosity.

Consequently, one night I went to the gun range when they were hosting an IDPA match and whoa, was I hooked! This is what I’ve been looking for. The structure, the thought process, and development of shooting skills. I watched eagerly to learn and wanted to know more. The next week, they were having an ASPSA match and I got myself the necessities to shoot that match. Belt, magazine holders, gun holster, and ammunition. I was set.

Not knowing what to expect, I signed up for my first match. Nervous and not understanding the commands, I asked questions, a lot! Listening to the squad leader and RO tell you what the match will be about and how it will be played, you then come up with your strategy to move forward in this match.

My first turn came up, all eyes were on me, the new comer to the game. My nerves were racked as I’m trying to understand and digest what to do, how to do it and make it count. My first trigger pull, my firearm stove pipe’s, I wanted to cringe, although I got through it and by the time I did, I was extremely proud of myself for shooting my first stage in the four stage match.

I get through the second stage with better timing and better accuracy and by this time I was floating on cloud 9! I was so proud of myself and I felt good. I was getting it down and the 3rd match came and it was my turn. I instantly got disqualified as I unholstered planning my strategy without thinking, when I knew better. That was a definite learning experience.

After I was DQ’d I stuck around, help paste the targets, clean up and tear down to still be apart of my team and show excellent sportsmanship. This is the kind of person that you want to be and your team mates need. That night when I left there, I couldn’t be more proud of myself and still am!


Now, I’ve got the bug. I’ve got to get the training although don’t know where to go. Because I’m still new in town, I really don’t know anyone so I join online women gun groups in South Carolina and I make an online friend who is more than willing to help me get to my next journey in life.

Craving more and more, I had to set myself back due to eye surgery. In the mean time, I was looking for someone I could talk to about learning the correct way of handling my gun, techniques and understanding the commands for competition.

I make some phone calls, sent some emails and I found a person who I thought was perfect for what I wanted. The more I conversed in email, the more I realized I didn’t want to learn more defensive, I wanted to learn competition. Back to the drawing board. I see a message through an online group and I decided to call this place and the person on the other end of the phone understood what I was looking for and teach competition and we set up a date for myself and my husband who has caught the bug  to learn our new passion that we are now sharing together.

We went, we learned a wealth amount of education and we had fun. This is when truly I realized this is what I want to do. One step at a time learning as I want to do it right. Eager to move forward and excited, I’m hoping to find a mentor that will take me under their wing in my area to move onward with my new-found love, competition shooting! Earning the respect of my fellow shooters and making new friends who enjoy the same passion is where I want to be in life while enjoying….competition shooting!

 Smile…It Confuses People,
 Leah D. Lichtenberg  
guest author for Live Love Load
Are you missing out?
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for exclusive content and free prizes for subscribers only!
We respect your privacy. One email a month, no spam.

Changing the EDC: LC9S to Shield

Posted on Posted in Product Reviews

I have been carrying a Ruger LC9S for a year now. I have had no issues with the LC9S at all, the decision to change every day carry (aka EDC) is a personal preference. At the beginning of this journey, I intellectually chose firearms based on specifications, reviews, and test shooting. Shooting any smaller frame pistol will have more recoil, especially in polymer frame firearms. I know the trigger pull on the LC9 was long, the LC9s is an improvement. I wonder if the LC9s will get the same revamp the LCP II just did with the Ruger American styling.

I prefer the Shield  the Ruger due to the fact I have a full solid grip on the Shield, the stock trigger is a bit shorter and if I install the Apex Duty trigger, it’ll be even lighter. The more solid grip is a reassuring factor for me in a choice for every day carry. This is the go-to if in dire straits, and I want everything to go as I would need it to if my firearm were to see sunlight. The other choice I made is to go without a manual safety. My LC9s has an external safety whereas the Shield does not. You can purchase one with an external safety. Yes, I could have chosen to not use the safety on the LC9s but I would rather there not be one at all than to have one engaged when I think it’s not. Losing those seconds could be the difference of being able to tell the story afterwards.

Thank you Smith & Wesson for not having a pin that needs to be removed for take down. I appreciate that.  Often I have worried about the pin in the LC9s becoming lost while cleaning or if I had to do a fieldstrip outdoors. I have dropped the take down pin while cleaning and wondered about that nightmare a time or two.

Both are solid firearms and deserve to be anyone’s every day carry. I think a part of this is also that I shoot a M&P Pro Series 9L and the grip works with my hands the best so far of all the firearms I have shot. Holding the Shield feels a bit reminiscent of holding the larger M&P. I will revisit this as I carry the Shield and give updates.

Talking about every day carry: I have recently had issues with the Can Can concealment holster, sweat. Since I have to get new holsters for the Shield, I am looking for a full sweat shield, inside waist band holster that I can carry appendix if I wish (or AIWB), comfortable and solid. I also prefer tan color or light colored- much easier to conceal lighter shades than dark ones with women’s clothing.


Article: Does this gun make me look fat?

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized


For decades, women have had few choices when it comes to the clothing they can wear to hide that they’re carrying a firearm. They could wear baggy T-shirts or coats, or put it in a purse and hope it didn’t get swiped or that they didn’t have trouble getting it out in an emergency.

Enter holsters, corsets, camisoles and other clothing designed to be flattering, feminine — and functional — for the pistol-packin’ mama crowd.

“I don’t want to dress in tactical gear and camo all the time. I love tactical clothing for the range. It’s comfortable. I don’t want to ruin my everyday clothing,” said Marilyn Smolenski, who in 2012 created Nickel and Lace, a company that caters to women who want to carry a firearm concealed but don’t want to trade in their femininity. “But I don’t want to wear it to the grocery store.”

Smolenski started her company right around the time when Chicago city laws changed and she could again legally carry a firearm. When that happened, she struggled to find something that didn’t make her look frumpy and didn’t broadcast that she was packing heat. Most of the clothing was geared to men — coats with hidden pockets, or holsters that tuck neatly inside a waistband. But until the last few years, those weren’t always great options for women who don’t wear belts as frequently and are more likely than men to wear form-fitting clothing, making it difficult to hide the fact they’re carrying a firearm.

“When you put a man’s holster on a woman’s body it sticks out. It doesn’t hug the body,” said Carrie Lightfoot, founder and owner of The Well Armed Woman in Scottsdale, Arizona, which does everything from providing firearms instruction to women to selling a variety of concealed carry clothing. One of her company’s first missions was to design and produce a holster that recognized the differences in body types and clothing styles between men and women.

Women’s waists tend to be shorter, providing less room to withdraw a gun from a holster. Hips and chests can get in the way too, she said.

Lightfoot and Smolenski said that some manufacturers tended to “shrink it and pink it” — thinking that taking gear produced for men and making it smaller and brightly colored would satisfy female customers. They and their counterparts emphasize they are driven first by function and safety before aesthetics come into the equation.

“Women need to know they can carry effectively,” Lightfoot said. “I think the key is finding a way to carry it so you can be comfortable and move through your day without being poked and having a big hunk of metal in your pants and not be able to sit at work.”

Both also are advocates for providing women with information and guidance on ways to feel secure and be safe. For Smolenski, that goal has led to the creation of the annual Firearms and Fashion Show which includes seminars on personal safety. Her company actually got its start with a line of jewelry — from necklaces that can be pulled away easily and then used as a weapon to “chopsticks” that can both be used to hold up hair and then be wielded against an attacker.

For Anna Taylor, the founder and CEO of Dene Adams LLC — named after her grandfather, who first taught her to respect firearms and handle them safely — the road to creating a line of concealed carry clothing began at around the time she became a single mom and the safety of the family rested on her shoulders. When she got her first concealed carry permit in 2013, she went through seven different holsters.

“Some were hard and uncomfortable. Some of them I’d have to take off and set down when I went to the bathroom and I was afraid I would go off and leave it just like I’ve left my phone behind before. Others, belly band types with a print so bad you could see the grip or outline of the gun through my clothes,” Adams said. “So when I went out in public, I felt like I had these awkward arms always trying to hide this thing.”

Her first design involved a mousepad and a post-partem corset to create a soft holster. She was able to carry the kids around, nurse, give the kids baths — even jump on the trampoline — “and I could forget that it was there.” With her last $200, she found a manufacturer willing to do a small run. Flash forward three years and she now has products on shelves at nearly 100 dealers around the country. She has expanded into safety and training and is now an NRA pistol and rifle instructor. She even has a few men who buy her products — including, she said, air marshals, who gravitate to the snug, comfortable designs.

“We have options that don’t have lace. We have solid black,” she said.

Fed up? Train!

Posted on Posted in Training Notes

Every terror attack, every life lost angers and saddens me. I have plenty of opinions about the political landscape, but I don’t wish to be yet another voice in the void complaining. Instead I would rather focus on being positive. My observation about these terror attacks is that most of them are planned and executed and I am sure there are more to come. What can we do about it? Sitting around and complaining about how the government is not doing the right thing is not the answer.

The answer is to get prepared! Develop your personal safety strategy, buy personal protection devices and train with them. If you have put off training, get refocused! Trouble is not going to wait for you to be ready, terrorist are not just Jihadist, there are people out there that wish to cause harm to others because they are hurting themselves.

I was mugged at gunpoint at my own local gas station by someone asking for directions it can happen any time, any where. Firearms are one of many personal protection tools, if you don’t wish to learn how to use a firearm, you must learn close combat. I encourage everyone to learn everything you can about self-defense and multiple disciplines. Share your experience with others, the more you share, the more others will be encouraged. Invite your friends with you to that self-defense class, a local shooting class, or even take someone to a local shooting competition like IDPA.

Stay Safe. Stay Aware.

Are you carrying with faked confidence?

Posted on Posted in Being A Woman, Training Notes

Every woman who carries knows the feeling. If stuff goes down, I have a tool to use. If something happens, I have options I wouldn’t normally have. It is a reassuring feeling, faked confidence. Wait, what? Faked confidence? Yep. You have a tool but do you know how to use it? Have I trained to be proficient with my tool? Have I practiced my draw from my concealed carry option until I can do it without hesitation?

Meet a friend, Snap Caps. Snap Caps can help you train, practice your draw. Help you be ready for something in the real world. How fast can you draw? How fast can you draw and be ready to shoot? Are you carrying with your safety on? Do you mindlessly set it your safety to fire as you draw? Do you carry with a round chambered or do you have to rack your firearm to fire?

These decisions have to be made so you can practice properly. Guns are tools, the use of the tool is only as good as training you do. I recommend Snap Caps as they will help keep your firing pin. These are the only ones I know of that will allow your firing pin to actually hit brass, inside the Snap Cap is a spring that allows the brass primer to move.

Dry firing is your friend. It allows the correct habit to form in your muscle memory (also known as myelin). The more you practice dry firing and drawing, the better you will be during a real encounter. Practice in your vehicle as well as you can.

With training and practice, you can carry with real confidence.

Stay safe. Stay Aware.

HuffPost doesn’t understand the meaning of empowerment.

Posted on Posted in Advocacy, Being A Woman, Newsfeed

Alanna Vagianos writes that Dana Loesch and the NRA is misdirected in empowering women and says due to the statistics that have been used time and time again to say women shouldn’t have guns.

As The Cut pointed out, the presence of a gun in instances of intimate partner violence actually increases the risk of homicide for women by about 500 percent. That includes instances when the gun belongs to the victim.

Women in abusive relationships are also more likely to be murdered with a gun than “all other means combined,” according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

To further debunk the ad’s message, Loesch and the NRA seem to paint rapists and abusers as strangers who lurk in dark corners waiting for their next victim. When it comes to perpetrators of sexual assault, that’s most definitely not the case.According to RAINN, 93 percent of sexual assault victims under the age of 18 know their attackers.

Of course! If the abuser in a relationship (because women can be abusers too) has access to a firearm and wishes to yield power and control over another, it is logical that any means of intimidation and control will be used. Financial, mental, and physical means will be used- a gun allows the abuser a means of intimidation without being too close to their victim.

There is not actual numbers of that statistic that allow for an understanding of how many victims of abuse owned their own firearm and still resulted in their death. Where are the numbers of the abuse victims that survived the ordeal and found solace in owning a firearm. What about the abuse victims that got away and bought a firearm for self-protection afterwards?

No. Let’s just retrain the men not to abuse or rape women. Yes, that is the answer. Let’s not allow Americans their 2nd Amendment right, let’s just change our mainstream culture which systematically objectifies women through all entertainment and advertising channels.

What a cop-out answer! Alanna, where is the empowerment you suggest is misdirected? Call for help and wait? Pray that you won’t be killed or hurt worse in the meantime?

The statistic of 93% sexual assault victims know their attacker, why wouldn’t you want a potential victim to know how to defend themselves? If a woman gets firearm training, she will also get situational awareness training, firearm safety training, and learn about other self-defense techniques. No, let’s just retrain the criminals who have no regard for others.

Stay Safe. Stay Aware.


Review: Gun Tote’N Mama’s Chrome Zip Purse

Posted on Posted in Product Reviews

I am a bit picky about what I use as a purse; I am an active person that cares about security so I want quick access pockets for my cell phone and keys. Add to that my desire to conceal carry and have quality materials that won’t wear out too quickly, I can seem like a demanding purse shopper.

I have seen concealed carry purses with western themes, ones that look like a thrift store buy almost non-descript except the pleather they are made of.  By tastes alone, I have expensive taste but a thrifty bank account- I have to find good looking and quality for a good price.

Chrome Zip, Cross Body

After months of debating and trying out different purses at gun shows and outdoor retailers, I decided I really liked the leather of the Gun Tote’N Mamas collection. The purses didn’t feel like pleather, they were stylized as normal purses and they have extra security features that other purses do not.

At first I was turned off by the lack of a locking zipper but after owning a purse, I realize the locking zipper wouldn’t help you in a situation where you need your firearm. If you are using a concealed carry purse and feel you need a locking zipper to keep your firearm away from others- you need to consider on the body carry instead. At no times should your firearm be out of your control or your reach.

After much debate, I chose the Chrome zip cross-body model. At first I didn’t like the teeth of the chrome zip pockets and I was concerned about the top access to my firearm but now I appreciate both features!

It is made of real leather and feels luxurious. The strap is a security strap with wires running through the middle unnoticeably to prevent a cut and run mugging attempt. I love wearing this bag cross body, my hands are freed and I can adjust the strap for the length.  You can get a short strap additionally to switch out the longer one with but I have found I haven’t really needed the short strap.

I especially appreciate the top access for in the vehicle carry, my firearm is secured next to me without an additional holster in my vehicle and I can access it quickly if I need to.  The concealment compartment includes a holster that is secured by Velcro and secures your firearm in place at whichever angle you desire.

The purse has 2 outside pockets, one shallow and one deeper with magnetic zipper fob closures. I keep my daily must haves there, such as my keys. Inside is two side pockets and one side zipper pocket with one main compartment.

I receive compliments all the time about my purse; no one knows it is a concealed carry purse except those that know to look for the side zippers. I use my purse for work and every day. I would love to see this style in more colors or prints even.

To find your next Gun Tote’N Mamas purse, visit: www.guntotenmamas.com

“Oh, I’d love to do that,” she exclaims!

Posted on Posted in Advocacy, Being A Woman

There are very few women I have met that don’t want anything to do with guns. Most of the time, women wish they had time, or wish they knew where to learn when I ask them why they don’t shoot. The one thing I realize is that they consider it an optional pastime as I once did.

It’s for fun, novelty. The local gun store has a ‘Ladies’ Night’ and you get 50 rounds of .22 ammo, a 22. semi-auto and/or revolver pistol. You sit through a short presentation on grip and sights and then go onto the range to shoot. You leave with your target, a grin on your face, and a t-shirt. This may be an excellent way to introduce women to shooting for some but it is lacking in so many regards in my opinion.

On some level, everyone understands the need for personal safety and the reasons why someone would carry but there is a path to take between the thought and the action. First, I feel the solution is to make the path to action easier and more accessible. Women need to know who to talk to, I think this is the main reason women are not as involved as they could be. Shooting sports aren’t even televised or reported about!

For most women, shooting is a man’s world- we see it in the movies and our own male friends and husbands can talk hours about their ‘macho’ subjects. It is no longer just a man subject anymore, women who shoot, enjoy it and want to learn more. However, the cultural norm prevents women from crossing that invisible line, unless they see another woman interested and talking about it. I wish there was more media exposure to the shooting industry, that the 3-gun events were mainstream broadcasted and IDPA and other competitions were more mainstream.

As women shooters, I feel we have to share our experiences and encourage other women. I was hooked when I saw Julie Golob on Love at First Shot on NRA Women TV, how wonderful is that! I want to do that! The more I learn, the more I love, the more I want to share.  The more I see violence in the news, the more I want to arm others so they can protect themselves.

We have to change the “Oh, I’d love to do that!” to “Wow, that was awesome, I want to learn more!”

Stay Safe. Stay Aware.


She’s Packin’!

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Advocacy, Being A Woman

Very soon social media with be abuzz with She’s Packin’ photos, to bring awareness to women who carry personal protection devices. This campaign is close to all of our hearts because concealed carry is just that, concealed. We want to share with other women that they can protect themselves, see what we carry, you can too!

Carrying women will be sharing a photo amongst their friends, groups, and family. The group of women involved in spreading the message and bringing awareness that women are just as serious about personal protection as men, and want for women to feel empowered. Even if another woman decides to start carrying pepper spray or a self-defense tool on their keychain, it’s one tool more than she had before.

If you see a She’s Packin’ photo, please feel free to submit your own photo in the comments below or jump into the conversation! We are more than happy to talk about the products pictured and answer any questions you have. If you would like to get involved, email me jessica@liveloveload.com, or private message Live Love Load via social media and I will get your She’s Packin’ photo ready to share!

The photo with this post is from Henn Holsters and Tactical, owner Hannah shared her own photo for this project. Please visit her Etsy shop for more options that may fit your conceal carry needs. Henn Holsters is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so please feel free to Like & Share her posts.

#ShesPackin #LadiesRoar #LadiesShootToo

Stay safe. Stay Aware.