Rita Guardiola had never touched a gun before. Linda Hertel qualified in firearms training for the corrections department where she spent 38 years. A new women’s basic handgun class united them at College of the Mainland as they learned (or relearned) how to hold a gun properly, aim and select a firearm to fit their needs.

“I didn’t know the harm you could do to yourself if you don’t [shoot] properly. I feel comfortable to be around guns now,” said Guardiola.

While COM has offered handgun classes and range nights for decades, the women-only class is Daniel Blackford’s innovation this year.

“I prefer women only. I feel more confortable. You don’t feel intimidated to ask any questions,” said Guardiola.

Hertel added that the single-gender class helped because not only does she feel women learn differently, but they are built differently.

“We don’t have as much upper-body strength as men. We have to compensate,” said Hertel, who explained that she is relearning how to shoot after retiring from juvenile and adult corrections. “We practice having the stance so you can handle the backlash.”

A Christmas gift from her husband brought Jane Lours to the class.

“I used to enjoy going hunting and doing target shooting,” said Lours. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. There’s been a lot of the basics and anatomy of the gun and safety and the why of safety. This is fun.”

It proved to many of the 13 women in the class that you can always learn a new skill.

“I was so excited to hear about a class for women. I took the class to learn how to protect myself. It’s like CPR – you hope you never have to use it, but I have used it (CPR),” said Arlene Levine, a retired registered nurse from Galveston. “I should have taken it 20 years ago.”

The class trains students in the types and uses of firearms and how to shoot and avoid injury.

“It focuses on the fundamentals of guns. I spend a lot of time on safety and finding the right gun for a person’s lifestyle,” said Blackford.

The next class will be June 27-28, 6-10 p.m.

“Women really need to have this before they go out on their own. The sooner you learn, the better. Every adult should know,” said Hertel. “It’s the sisterhood for women learning together.”

For more information, contact Blackford at 409-933-8485.