I wanted to personally send you a note about my experience at Gunsite 250 at the Longmont Police Sheriff Range. It truly was a life changing experience. Steve Hendricks was an excellent Range Master. James Queisner and Ken Koch were exceptional instructors. Each one of them approached teaching me from a different perspective and I am deeply appreciative to each of them for their contribution to my learning and growth. I also want to mention the support and help I received from Anthony Torres and Michael Lang during the week. They were both always supportive and I appreciate their efforts to make sure the week ran smoothly. It's important that you understand I am a 68-year-old woman who, at the urging of my son, purchased a gun and began learning to shoot during the pandemic. My initial motivation to become a gun-owner was for self-protection. I had been repeatedly threatened during the pandemic to the point where the Sheriff's department and my attorney became involved. With the support of my son and by joining Trigger Time Gun Club, I began taking lessons and meeting other women shooters. It was through my connections with women at Trigger Time that I learned about Gunsite. I was intrigued when I was repeatedly told "it will change your life." That is a pretty bold statement. I entered Gunsite 250 with no expectation of passing the course. I went because I wanted to challenge myself to dig deeper and rebuild confidence that I had lost from being repeatedly threatened and harrassed. I felt I needed a "boot-camp" to shift my mindset. It was an interesting experience to be one of three female students, to be a beginner, and also one of the oldest students. The week was both physically and emotionally challenging. Upon arriving at the course, I discovered I was poorly prepared with some of my equipment. I had the completely wrong holster for my ability. James was able to step in and loaned me a better holster to use during the course which meant that I could fully participate. James continued to watch over me for the week and I feel he went above and beyond to check in with me, watch me, and make sure I was learning and safe. He continually helped me shift my mindset on my ability, to dig deep, and to clarify specific points on what I was doing and needed to do. He had huge patience to calmly go over and over instructions I needed to hear as well as to slowly put me through the process so that I could feel what I was supposed to be doing. Ken was always encouraging me and had a talent for giving me very specific points of instruction. My best example was when we were in the final afternoon of a "fun" competition and I was trying to hit three steel targets. I had been unable to hit any target. Everyone was watching. I was tired and feeling self-conscious. Then Ken leaned over and quietly said, "focus on the front site." And that was it. I hit all three targets and the entire class began cheering for me. After that, everything just worked. That was the moment the entire course instruction gelled. I successfully made it through the rest of the competition with confidence in my ability and a huge shift in my mindset. That was when I knew that I had gotten what I came for. Steve was a superb Range Master. He was always willing to go over instructions so I could clearly understand what I was to do. I feel he did a great job of making sure we were safe and had the basics down before moving on to more challenging tasks. I appreciate that he started the course with a talk on Mindset as I really needed that perspective to begin my week. Without that talk to start, I may not have had the confidence to stick with it the whole five days. Steve never stopped telling me that I had the ability to do this. He always found time to talk with me and encourage me, to point out what I was doing right. His positive feedback kept me going forward. I believed him when he told me, "You can do this. You have what it takes." Steve, James, and Ken all recognized that I was the student that needed lots of positive affirmation and confidence building. I would have wilted if I had been openly challenged or put on the spot and they recognized this. These instructors knew that I needed a more private, gentle approach to instruction, and that I needed a lot of confidence building. They always found something positive to offer me even when they were correcting me. And bit-by-bit, I really began to feel my mindset and confidence shift. I could feel myself consciously grounding myself, reviewing the instructions, pulling up my inner strength before beginning a task. That shift in mindset has played out not only in my shooting ability, but into my personal life. My husband of 40 years and my son notice the difference in my overall self-confidence. Gunsite truly has been life changing for me.
Gayle Niss, 250 Pistol Class, May13-17, 2023, Longmont, CO