Valley News -

By Diane Sieker

Aguanga women take shooting course


Last updated 6/8/2018 at 12:06pm


From left to right, firearms students Tien Truong, Jackie Lynn Stone and Michelle Robinson pose at one of their training classes with Thorell Firearms Education and Training.

Women represent the fastest growing group of firearm buyers, as well as the largest group applying for and getting concealed weapons permits.

Instructional course rosters are filling up, and Ed Thorell of Thorell Firearms Education and Training is in the forefront in encouraging women to get the proper training.

Thorell gets new shooters up to speed to easily prepare and pass the CCW qualifications process or simply to learn how to shoot and do so confidently and safely.

He has been a member and certified instructor for the National Rifle Association since 1995 with certificates to teach home firearm safety, basic pistol, personal protection inside the home and the NRA's most challenging course, personal protection outside the home.

"Yes, I shoot like a girl," is the theme of his female-friendly firearms courses. It is because women quickly learn the necessary skills to be safe, accurate and focused with their chosen weapons.

Aguanga residents and best friends Jackie Lynn Stone, Tien Truong and Michelle Robinson decided to invest in some firearms training with Thorell. His teaching methods and skills impressed the women.

"Ed explains everything well and in detail for our safety," Robinson said. "Anyone can take his course and pick up shooting. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone new to shooting."

Becoming a proficient and safe shooter does not happen overnight, and it takes practice to master the necessary skills. Thorell likens the proficiency of learning to handle a firearm to that of learning a musical instrument.

"You can hand me a guitar, but that does not make me a musician," he said. "Some folks pick it up faster than others, and it is a process built over by learning, practicing and perfecting a certain skill set. I build safe shooters slowly, through conditioning, and every student, whether new or experienced, starts with a .22 target pistol.

"This is done for two reasons: first to focus on fundamentals of aiming, grip, trigger control and others on a platform with virtually no kick," Thorell said. "Then my clients transition to larger calibers like 9 mm and .38 special. Both rounds are easily controlled by beginners as well as being effective calibers used by law enforcement. Starting with .22s also builds confidence as part of the conditioning process. Just like working out in a gym, you start with small weights and work up."

One of Thorell's long-time students, Heidi is married to a law enforcement officer but wanted to learn about firearms in order to better protect her family when her husband was not home.

"I went into this, like most women, not knowing what to expect and afraid, because you're uneducated," she said. "For a long time I put it off, but the way Ed teaches it's very user friendly. There's no intimidation. I know with a lot of women that's a big thing. He's very approachable; he puts his students at ease, and he helped me kick that door open."

Thorell remembered that first lesson as well.

"She kicked open that door with a 12-gauge shotgun the first time she came out," Thorell said. "She gave me a call and said, 'I've got this shotgun; I need to know how to use it.' She left here a little bit sunburned, a little bit sore, smiling from ear to ear. Then I introduced her to an AR15...'

The training is empowering, Thorell said, and a great confidence builder, especially for women that have been in uneasy situations in their pasts.

"I just want to keep learning more," Heidi said.

Thorell is also a history teacher.

"Having an academic background helps in the teaching process because I can use the same tools and techniques I used in a classroom full of college students. Regardless of the venue, the classroom or the firing line, effective teachers use the same principles."

His teaching methods worked well for the Aguanga trio.

"I've never trained with guns before, and Ed was very easygoing throughout my training," Truong said. "His instructions were clear, and I was able to understand all his directions. He's got a great sense of humor and very easy to talk with."

Thorell has asked the women to assist him in producing videos to help get the word out regarding his women-oriented firearms courses. He offers his own YouTube channel called SH007ER.

The series provides quality videos showing proper firearms education and training for the general public, he said. Thorell said he feels that the more the public knows about firearms, their purpose and how to use them safely and correctly, that fewer firearm accidents and tragedies can occur.

"We believe safety and education is key to providing the public with the information they need to make safe, responsible decisions when using firearms," according to the video's introduction.

To learn more about Thorell Firearms Education and Training, visit him on Facebook at

Visit the Youtube channel at

Diane Sieker can be reached at [email protected]


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