Beauty and bullets: Firearms training for women

May 6, 2012 7:12:30 PM PDT
If you think being a beauty queen is just glitz and glamour, you haven't met this former Miss Houston.

When it comes to self-protection, she's not afraid of pulling a pistol. And now she's teaching other women how to do it, too.

Nikki Turpeaux is no stranger to handling weapons. That's why women come to see her.

"She made it more relatable, you know, from a woman's perspective. So, it made it easier to understand," student Brandy MacInerney said.

Turpeaux created Archangel Tactical and the Get a GRIP program, to teach women to protect themselves.

"[I] take women that have never dealt with the aspect or dealt with firearms before through a step-by-step process, in an environment that is comfortable and safe to ask questions," Turpeaux said.

"My husband can shoot, but I don't, so I kind of like felt helpless if he wasn't there. So, I decided to take it," student Patricia Cook said.

After being taught by industry professionals and combat veterans, Turpeaux became one of only a few female instructors in the country teaching firearms training.

She's mobile, going to any place or range that needs her. We met up with her at Spring Guns and Ammo.

So, why do it?

"Found myself newly single and living in a new home and traveling a lot more for work, so I knew that I needed to be my own first line of defense," Turpeaux said. "By teaching these life-saving, life-defending skills to women that I care about and women that I don't know but may have families or kids, really helps me feel a good sense of value and self worth."

But what surprises many is that Turpeaux is also a former beauty queen. She was crowned Miss Houston in 1995.

"When I was competing as Miss Houston, and those years of my life, community service was extremely important and I still feel that element of obligation to do something that is worthwhile," she said.

According the Texas Department of Public Safety, more than 28,000 women received concealed handgun licenses in the state in 2010.

Women are buying guns in droves. The problem is they don't know how to use them the right way.

The Get a GRIP program changes that by teaching them all of the techniques they need to know in order to deal with any situation, whenever it may occur.

"Because self preservation is the key here, and we want to take ourselves out of harm's way. Stop making ourselves vulnerable, whether we realize it or not," Turpeaux said.

But she also reminds us it's not just about guns.

"Your brain is your primary weapon. So I encourage women that we have to use our brains before we go to guns," she said. "You don't have to change the way you dress. You don't have to change the way you think about being a woman other than the ways you put yourself in vulnerable positions or harm's way."

And women are getting that message.

"It was very comforting being able to go through the class with other women," student Sheri Sheppard said. "Especially with a young child, you know if anything were to happen, to be able to protect myself and protect my family."

For more information on taking the class, visit www.getagripladies.com.


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