Before I met Julianna Crowder in person, we had spoken and emailed several times. Seeing her in person, I was struck by two things. First, she is a striking, lovely woman, very open and warm. Secondly, she never stops moving! This woman is driven by a passion for shooting sports and for encouraging other women.
Julianna started plinking with a BB gun at the age of nine, but didn’t really get involved in shooting until about 10 years ago, when her husband encouraged her to take a Texas Concealed Handgun Licensing class. Julianna approached shooting with the discipline of a trained athlete (she trained as a dancer and taught dance for many years). After attending the first class, she came away with a “changed perspective” about taking responsibility for your own personal safety. She decided, “If I can learn it, I can teach it.” She started attending more classes with her husband and eventually earned the credentials to teach on her own.
From there, it was on to studying with some of the masters in the industry, including Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens and Kathy Jackson. Julianna realized she had found her calling in helping people, especially women, learn to shoot, defend themselves and build confidence and self-esteem. She describes working with an older woman who was great in the classroom but terrified on the range. Using a dose of “mom” attitude, she told her not to let the fear stop her. And, as usually happens, the woman ended up loving shooting!
A Girl & A Gun’s Vision
Seeking to grow her business, Julianna attended networking events in the Austin area. At first, she met with some resistance from other women to the idea of attending a shooting and self-defense class. But then she had the idea that would form the foundation of the A Girl & A Gun shooting league. She decided to host a “girl’s night out” at a local range, have fun, gently introduce the shooting and then go out after as a group. It was a hit. A Girl & A Gun was born. According to Julianna, “Personal responsibility is scary, but adding the social aspect grew the confidence and introduced the women to the fun side of the shooting sports.”
The league’s mission is to educate and encourage women about firearm usage and safety, and help promote female interest and participation in the competitive shooting sports. To that end, A Girl & A Gun has established throughout the country ladies-only shooting education programs, local league events, and regional and national competition in competitive action-shooting sports. The league seeks to foster a positive environment that supports lady shooters, welcoming, as the mission statement has it, “all demographics of women to participate in our events, which are designed for all levels from recreational to competitive.” Education, safety, a positive environment and a welcoming shooting community—can’t beat that combo!
72 Strong & Growing
A Girl & A Gun was officially launched on February 28, 2011, in Leander, Texas. Currently, there are 72 chapters across 25 states, and the organization continues to grow. Each chapter is led by a carefully selected facilitator who hosts training, competition and social activities. A Girl & A Gun has a leadership team made up of dynamic, talented and committed women, but at the top is Julianna, who continues to share her vision and works to ensure that the chapters share similar experiences.
“A Girl & A Gun isn’t a job; it’s a mission—to share the fun and empowerment of shooting…”
Julianna and Executive Director Robyn Sandoval are actively coaching the leadership team, working to build the support that is needed to continue the phenomenal success the group has experienced thus far. Julianna actively oversees each individual chapter, providing guidance, course corrections, coaching and support. She sets the bar very high for the chapter facilitators and the leadership team then ratchets it up a few more notches. For Julianna, A Girl & A Gun isn’t a job; it’s a mission—to share the fun and empowerment of shooting, provide the social and support aspects of community that minimize fear, and help women be safer and better realize their abilities.
Julianna says she struggles with being called a role model for women. Her modesty is genuine. This is not about her; it is about those women who come to the chapters to learn, to teach and to share. Some are experienced shooters, and some are tentative and curious. All are welcomed. A Girl & A Gun hosts an annual National Conference for their members. The 2015 conference is being held in beautiful Marble Falls, Texas, where there will be classes, speakers and seminars.
The chapters encourage participation in competitive shooting as well as the continued learning and development of new skills. Julianna herself is a competition shooter, and she readily admits that she isn’t as good as she could be but that she loves it. For her, it is about the event and the fun more than the final score.
This article was originally published in the November 2014 issue of COMBAT HANDGUNS. Subscription is available in print and digital editions below.