By Lisa Parsons-Wraith
Personal protection plans can never be “one size fits all.” Each woman needs to establish her own protection goals and the lengths she’s willing to go to in terms of lethal force to protect her home, her family and herself. Every woman needs a variety of defensive tools at her disposal to achieve these goals, ranging from weapon retention and grappling skills to pepper spray and firearms. Dealers across the country are working hard to provide women with firearm training and personal defense products, and, in the process, changing their business model to create a personal-defense facility for multiple disciplines.
Premier Shooting & Training Center (PSTC) in West Chester, Ohio, is the vision of General Manager and Co-Owner Jim Lentz. A former Marine M.P., Lentz is a martial arts instructor, as well as firearm instructor with numerous certifications. “Our primary objective is to teach people how to defend themselves,” Lentz stated. To that end, he recently opened a 30,000-square-foot shooting and training facility, which sports a 20-lane shooting range, 4,000-square-foot retail area, a martial arts dojo, VIP lounge, café, classrooms and meeting rooms.
Incorporating a martial arts dojo into a shooting facility is a fresh take on personal defense. “My goal is to give people options,” Lentz noted. Some people aren’t comfortable with firearms, but still want to defend themselves, so they sign up for a martial arts self-defense class, he said. “Once people understand how to really defend themselves, they see the parallels of both options,” he noted.
Premier Shooting & Training offers women-only classes as well as co-ed classes. The women-only classes are significant, because “it’s important for women to feel a sense of comfort, and women-only classes help alleviate intimidation” Lentz said. Classes include Women’s Self-Defense where women are taught how to defend, attack and escape an assailant among other defensive techniques.
PSTC also offers martial arts for the whole family, with kid’s karate classes, martial arts like JKDU/MMA for the Street, Kenpo, and Muay Thai conditioning. Their Shootfighting class combines disciplines, teaching students a fighting system that involves boxing, kickboxing and karate on the martial arts end of the spectrum. Weapons’ training includes learning the art of the firearm, cane and knife, weapon retention and fundamentals of marksmanship. This class also incorporates Hojutsu, an integrated fighting system that blends the use of firearms with martial arts.
ASP Key Defender
Sticky Holster SM-1 Small
Pinpoint A Training Niche
Though the training facility only opened in February 2016, Lentz has noticed a trend among women. “The typical track record we’re seeing now is women come in for the CCW class and then see what else we have to offer,” he said. “Women are much more willing to accept they need additional training. They start with handgun foundations, then take women’s self-defense, then buy a handgun and range membership.”
Premier Shooting & Training offers a holster certification course; it allows patrons to draw from an approved holster so they can conduct live fire training in the shooting lanes. As a result, Lentz said he and his staff are currently on a fact-finding mission to create a niche holster market in their pro shop — including a variety of holsters women can use with ease. So far, some of the holsters he has found include Raven Concealment Systems’ IWB holster, Blade-Tech’s OWB holsters and the Sticky pocket holster for .380s. “We try to have a broad spectrum of holsters based on design and price,” Lentz said.
Awareness, prevention and defense are the foundations of training at PSTC, and Lentz said he is a firm believer in a multi-layered approach to defense. For women who aren’t comfortable with a firearm or who can’t carry one for some reason, Lentz recommends pepper spray batons like the Key Defender or Palm Defender from ASP. This product is excellent for women because it gives a distance weapon with the pepper spray, while the baton is a close-up defensive option.
Sig Sauer P938
The Future Of Self-Defense?
The “try before you buy” philosophy is also a huge part of the firearm side at PSTC. Firearms training classes include the opportunity for students to try out and shoot various firearms. Lentz said women have responded well to S&W M&Ps and GLOCK 19s as guns they can learn to shoot and then decide if they want to move on to something else. “The SIG P938 seems to be a nice model,” he noted, adding it’s easy to shoot for women with small hands and the slide is easy to manipulate.
The response for Premier Shooting & Training Center has been very positive, according to Lentz. “People seem to get they can pick and choose from a variety of self-defense options to fit their needs and comfort level,” he noted. Martial arts gives people a defensive foundation, and from there they can explore other personal-defense choices ranging from lethal to non-lethal. This combination of training may well be the model for the self-defense facility of the future.
Women looking for a bellyband-style holster will want to check out Hidden Heat holsters from Miss Concealed. Available in a variety of configurations, these holsters can accommodate both small- and large-framed firearms. The firearm is held securely in place by retention straps and an adjustable Velcro closure allows for a custom fit. A patent pending support system incorporated into the elastic provides optimal support to the firearm. All models include extra pockets for magazines and cell phones. Available in black in standard models, and black and natural in lace models, Hidden Heat bellybands are a discreet and comfortable on-the-body carry option. All of the Hidden Heat holsters allow for either right- or left-hand draw.