PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy of Ladies of Lead
We learn from each other’s experience and create a bond that only women understand. We empower each other through knowledge and wisdom to say, ‘Not me, not today!’
Sharon Preston, founder of Ladies of Lead Group Therapy, LLC, started Ladies of Lead right before the Sandy Hook shooting as a Facebook post asking if there were any other women out there who wanted to learn how to handle handguns. The response was overwhelming reports Preston.
“We started with 20 women in our satellite group and grew from there. Today we’ve trained close to 4,000 women in Oregon how to defend themselves.
“We are women training women in personal awareness skill and the use of tools to defend ourselves.”
The name Ladies of Lead has two meanings.
1. LOL Group Therapy might be thought of as Laugh Out Loud therapy session as they all have a fun time together. “We share stories of survival and trauma too,” says Preston. “We learn from each other’s experience and create a bond that only women understand. We empower each other through knowledge and wisdom to say, ‘Not me, not today!’”
2. Ladies Of Lead Group Therapy actually means the grouping left on the target. To shoot accurately with a tight grouping of holes on the target is considered a “nice group.” So to have some group therapy means some productive gun range training. Which is actually therapeutic.
Ladies of Lead teach primarily handguns with a few ladies interested in rifles and shotguns. They also teach hand-to-hand and awareness skills along with other tools besides firearms. Stun guns, mace, knives, batons and many others are great options for personal protection. Cyber security, home security, parking lot awareness, criminal psychology are all taught in their classes.
“The weapon is the mind,” explains Preston, “Everything else is just a tool.
“Holsters and how to carry our tool of choice is also taught. With all of the many career paths that women have and their dress codes being drastically different, the ‘how to carry concealed’ daily becomes of great concern. Our holster class is very popular. We would love to have a fashion show someday where a holster is added to their ensemble to help create ideas for those of us that carry.
“We train a lot of victims or as we like to call ourselves, survivors of violent crime. To them the act of violence is no longer academic. They truly understand that the only one that wins in a violent act is the one doing the violence.
Ladies of Lead have a training studio in downtown Redmond at 338 SW Sixth Street. At the studio you’ll find a computerized infrared virtual gun range by Laser Shot set up and many software programs on the system to hone your skills. They teach Concealed Handgun License classes at the Redmond training center.
Preston adds that the firearms they use only shoot infrared but they are full size and full weight giving you an opportunity to work on your fundamentals without the liability of live fire.
“Some of our handguns even have recoil kits that give you the true feel of a real handgun. One of the most important software programs is the Judgmental Training where actors on the screen play out critical dynamic incidents for real life ambush or active shooter scenarios. This is good for civilians and law enforcement as we have scenarios for both. Law enforcement utilize our training facilities too.
“With crime in Central Oregon on the rise and Hwy. 97 being the main drug trafficking corridor to the north, Hwy. 90 that stretches all across the U.S., we are right on the front lines of drug and sex trafficking.”
Preston thinks we need more conversations about firearm safety, not less. We need more education, not less.
Preston is the president of the largest gun range in Oregon. Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association is a world class 600 acre shooting complex located east of Bend on Hwy. 20. She says, “Our range holds some of the largest competition matches in the U.S. and bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to our local economy every year for the past 20 years. We believe that more people should use gun ranges and keep the lead where it belongs and out of our forests. I take our Environmental Stewardship Program very seriously and the need for more education and conversations regarding firearm safety.”
Preston is a Level II Pistol Instructor for the 4-H National Shooting Team and an NRA Training Counselor which means she can train and create NRA instructors. She believes that we need to get more people into the gun ranges where they are exposed to excellent instruction and sport that promote firearm safety and proficiency, keeping our community of firearms enthusiasts on target.
Along with her expertise and experience in firearm safety, Preston has a radio spot on KBND every other Thursday on Experts On The 20’s speaking about gun safety and activities in our local area. She had Rakkan Equestrian Center in Bend for 20 years, where she was a 4-H Horse Leader for 17 years.
She has a passion to empower and encourage confidence through knowledge. Her motto is Where empowerment replaces fear, knowledge creates options. Learn to defend yourself and unlock your inner strength.
Ladies of Lead YouTube channel provides great free resource for information. www.youtube.com/channel/UC5mYum0LlfJ5DhiD1jD_heQ
541-788-5858, email@example.com, www.ladiesoflead.com
338 SW Sixth Street, Redmond