Being an author, I do a lot research. All authors do, or at least they should. I spend almost as much time researching and digging into things as I do writing some days. It’s important to learn about those things I’m writing about if I want it to sound believable and authentic. Since I love learning, it’s fun for me too which is a big plus. I don’t ever get bored with the process. Whether I think I know what I’m taking about or not, I still study up on the current facts and try to understand how the things I write about work out in the real world. Especially when it’s something I haven’t actually done before.
If you’ve read my books, The Deceiver Saga, you know there’s lots of adventure, action, strong real life themes and also some content of a spiritual nature. There is also a lot of things of a practical nature as well. And sometimes some deep digging and immersion is in order so I get it right.
In my effort to thicken the plots and webs of my storytelling, I must lay foundational knowledge. I’ve talked with Sheriff, PD, Correctional officers, Highway Patrol, SWAT, Psychologists, Attorneys, Pastors, an Ex-Military Colonel, even a U.S. black ops military helicopter pilot, and other sources, all in the pursuit of research and getting it right. But it wasn’t until recently that I got some real hands on training in one particular area that my books will have plenty of – the gun play. Okay, so “play” isn’t necessarily the right word per say. More like, weapons being drawn and training about to commence at this stage in The Deceiver Saga. Yet more is a come ’in folks and that is one of the reasons I wanted to get my hands gritty with some professional hands on weapons training.
Now, I wasn’t about to just go to anybody for my firearms training. After all, I might write fiction but I am also a realist. I don’t want some macho crackpot shoot’em first ask ‘em later cowboy or cowgirl teaching me how to shoot so I can learn their bad habits. So, I did what I’m good at; I did my research.
I looked up several of my area’s highly recommended Firearms Instructors. I read their reviews, looked at their websites and read their bios. I even did google searches on them to see if anything of interest popped out be it good or bad. After a thorough search, I ultimately decided to contact Mandy Autrey, A.K.A. The GunLady. I met with Mandy one on one and we chatted for about three hours. Interviewing her you might say to see if she would be the right choice. She was definitely the Instructor for me. I liked her attitude, her professionalism, how she carried herself, her humility, qualifications, and of course her intelligence. Oh, and I loved her sense of humor. Thank God she was as sarcastic as me! Maybe even more so :o] Again – If you’ve read my books you’ll understand how important humor and sarcasm are to me. My books are full of it! I’d found my perfect “instructor match”.
Mandy Autrey is the founder and primary instructor of GunLady Defensive Firearms Training here in the Sacramento area. And no, just in case you’re going there in your brains, I didn’t choose her because she was a woman. Oh no…Her Yelp reviews did the bragging for her! Men and woman of all ages were raving. Her clear and precise instruction coupled with nearly 30 years of her law enforcement experience and eighteen years as an instructor, said volumes. When I sat down to talk with her I wasn’t disappointed. I soon found out that she’s been up close to the criminals and knows how they think and behave. Her students reap the the unique benefit of her experience and insight, and her extraordinary certifications and knowledge go far beyond the standard textbooks or manual type of instruction.
I signed up and attended Mandy’s CCW training class. For those who still haven’t read my books (shame on you), a CCW is a Carry Conceal Weapons permit. It was a two day, 16 hour class as required by California law. Mandy not only met my expectations, she exceeded them. In fact, I ended up going back for one more day of training during the next month's class to certify an additional firearm and get more hands on experience and instruction. I will definitely be taking more of her other classes to learn all I can. I’m particularly interested in the Combat Focus Shooting class, the 360StreetSense4Women, and the Fundamentals of Home Defense classes!
I shot several different types of guns before I ever went to GunLady Defensive Firearms Training. But what I hadn’t ever really had before was the proper training. That much was perfectly clear to me within the first few minutes of her class. I mean, I do what a lot of people do nowadays when they want to know more about something; I read about it, watched instructional videos on YouTube, I asked people who grew up around guns, even asked other law enforcement officers to show me their grip and stance. Yet I can honestly say, all that went straight to the crapper in her class.
Come to find out, the ‘ol weaver handgrip is outdated and behind the times. There are more efficient and scientific methods to handling your firearm that use the body’s natural mechanics and startle flinch, all of which is incorporated into well-choreographed techniques. She taught our class those steps and encouraged us to practice them repeatedly in order to develop the muscle memory we’d need so that we can respond on instinct and won’t freeze if that dreaded battle over life or death should ever come. Not only did she teach the mechanics of the weapons, but how the body reacts and how the mind perceives things, bringing the two together.
With almost thirty years in Law Enforcement behind her, I felt like I was in expert hands, literally. In fact, one of the certifications that makes Mandy Autrey stand out from her peers, is her certification as a Combat Focus Shooting Instructor. There are roughly only about seventy-five CFS Instructors in the world. However, only about fifty are active; an estimated four of which are women, including Mandy Autrey. Even with her advanced skill set and training qualifications, I quickly learned that The GunLady provides a complete training experience for anyone seeking to learn how to defend themselves. Whether you’re new to firearms or an experienced shooter looking to refine your skills, she has something for everyone.
We all might think we’ll do the right thing in a crisis, but the only way to stack the odds in your favor of survival is to practice and get the proper training from a qualified instructor. Several of the students I meant felt they had found such an instructor since I came to find out that many of them had be taught by her before. They’d attended either her Fundamentals of Home Defense class or had sent their kids to a Private Handgun lesson and were so impressed with the training their kids received that they wanted some themselves.
That’s what happens when you find an instructors who makes training about actual real life situations and not about some supersized-macho-prove-who-has-the-biggest-gun (if you get my drift) type of class where they spend more time talking and bragging about themselves than shooting. Mandy keeps it about the science, the mechanics, the proper technics, keeping a cool head, the laws you need to know as a gun owner and/or CCW permit holder.
She stresses over and over again the importance of practice. I got to fire nearly 500 rounds in my first two-day 16 hour CCW class. The second time I went for another 8 hour day, I got to fire nearly 350 rounds. Most CCW classes I’ve researched tell you to just bring 50-100 rounds for practice during their “two-day class” and 36 rounds per gun to certify with. How is that proper training?
Mandy, A.K.A. The GunLady was even recently featured on our local ABC Channel 10 news about self-defense planning for women. You can watch that segment by clicking here. Also, I had the honor of writing a couple of articles about Mandy’s expertise that will be featured in the next few issues of The American Woman Shooter magazine. It’s a two part article, so I can’t wait to share those links with you once they post.
For those of you who live in or near the Sacramento area and you want high quality, realistic training from an expert in her field, I strongly recommend you check out Mandy’s website for a full listing of her certifications and self-defense and firearms training classes at www.gunlady.net. And if you’re an author or aspiring writer and you want to sound authentic and knowledgeable about guns, then you have to go to the real deal or you’re just going to sound like you’re making stuff up.