PELHAM — Denise Bergeron said she loves teaching women how to safely fire a gun and enjoy exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Bergeron teaches Women on Target, the National Rifle Association's program designed for women who have never handled a firearm before.
She will teach a class Saturday at the Pelham Fish and Game Club.
"They come away knowing that firearms aren't dangerous with the correct proper safe training. They're a great sport activity," she said.
The class is incredibly popular with local women from across New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont.
"My May class was filled last October," she said. "My classes max out at 36 people, that way everyone has a good opportunity to fire whatever they want to handle. I have a lot of repeat students. Some of them have not missed one Women on Target program so far."
Bergeron has been teaching this class for two years; it is entirely staffed by volunteers. All slots for Saturday's class are filled, but the program will be run again in August and October.
The women start the day with breakfast before going to two hours of classroom training. "They learn about gun safety, gun handling, determine if they're right- or left-handed shooters, go over the importance of hearing and eye protection, and more," Bergeron said.
Then the women break into three different groups to shoot rifles, pistols and one group learns to shoot clay pigeons with shotguns.
"When they go to the firing line, every lady there has an instructor standing right next to them," she said. "They can shoot a .22 (caliber), a 9 mm, a .38 and more. We explain what gun they've chosen, how to handle it safely, how to align the sights, how to load it, how to center on the target and how to fire it. Safety is our number one concern."
The women break for lunch and hear a lecture from local attorney Penny Dean, who informs the group about their right to carry, New Hampshire firearm laws and the Second Amendment. Back on the range, Bergeron said by the afternoon, many of the first-time shooters are getting the hang of their guns.
"It's wonderful to see these ladies react when they're shooting at the clay pigeons," she said. "The first time they call pull and hit it and break it, everyone applauds."
Bergeron said the program is a great deal for women who want to learn to shoot.
"They don't have to bring anything, we provide everything including ammunition, guns and safety gear," she said. "They just keep coming back."
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Next Women on Target
When: Aug. 27 and Oct. 15
Where: Pelham Fish and Game Club, 100 Simpson Mill Road
Cost: $30; students, $20
Preregistration is required.
Contact: Denise Bergeron at 898-7748 or firstname.lastname@example.org