Customer Spotlight

At Manchester Firing Line, our objective is to always help people feel safe and become comfortable with firearms. It is a message that has resonated with men and women, people of all ages, and from all walks of life. Many have said that learning to shoot has been life-changing—and often in ways they did not expect. We want you to meet some of them and read their stories. Please look for our new series of monthly profiles of some of our friends and fellow shooters. Read their testimonials and see why Manchester Firing Line is much more than just a place to shoot.

All customer spotlights will have a featured story on our website and social media pages. They will be invited to special events and will receive a customer spotlight gift loaded with MFL items and a 1 hour free Range Time card. If you would like to be considered for our monthly customer spotlight feature, please email tbowen@gunsnh.com, we can't wait to hear your story!

  • Nathan Scanlon: Always in the Fight

    Not all warriors are found on the battlefield; some are people you encounter every day—on your street, or at the grocery store, or enjoying an escape from the wars they must fight. Fifteen-year-old Nathan Scanlon of North Andover, Massachusetts is one such warrior. He has been battling a persistent foe in recent years—cancer; he beat the cancer once, but it has returned. However, the disease doesn’t realize the foe it has in Nathan, a warrior who doesn’t know the word “quit.”

                Nathan has been shooting since he was a boy. According to his mom, Amanda, it came naturally to him, an unexpected gift. “When he was in Boy Scouts he went to a camp where they could shoot BB guns,” she explains. “He was so good, that in no time, the instructors let him go to a different range where the adults were shooting. He loved it right away.”

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    by Crystal Ward Kent   

                Not all warriors are found on the battlefield; some are people you encounter every day—on your street, or at the grocery store, or enjoying an escape from the wars they must fight. Fifteen-year-old Nathan Scanlon of North Andover, Massachusetts is one such warrior. He has been battling a persistent foe in recent years—cancer; he beat the cancer once, but it has returned. However, the disease doesn’t realize the foe it has in Nathan, a warrior who doesn’t know the word “quit.”

                Nathan has been shooting since he was a boy. According to his mom, Amanda, it came naturally to him, an unexpected gift. “When he was in Boy Scouts he went to a camp where they could shoot BB guns,” she explains. “He was so good, that in no time, the instructors let him go to a different range where the adults were shooting. He loved it right away.”

                Amanda was quick to support Nathan’s interest in shooting, believing that, “It’s only dangerous if you don’t follow the rules. Learning to shoot the right way, the safe way, makes it a perfectly acceptable sport,” she says. “I’m glad Nathan has learned how to protect himself, but it’s also taught him to be levelheaded and responsible. I think it’s been an important right of passage for him, too.” 

    Prior to his cancer diagnosis, Nathan was an avid rock climber; climbing, along with shooting, were his two favorite activities, according to his mom. But at age 11, he was diagnosed with a medullo blastoma, a brain tumor. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and other grueling therapies. Finally, he was declared cancer-free, and for three glorious years, returned to the life of a normal, active boy. Then, in 2017, a follow-up visit revealed that the cancer was back—and Nathan the warrior was back in the fight. 

                Tim Velten, Amanda’s boyfriend, suggested that they try shooting at the Manchester Firing Line, a range he had frequented.  They immediately liked it and soon became regulars, with Amanda learning to shoot as well. “It’s very family-friendly here, very welcoming, and Nathan loves the array of firearms to try,” says Amanda. “He has shot handguns, rifles, semi-automatic and automatic firearms. One of his favorite guns is a World War II Sterling submachine gun, which he enjoys firing on full auto.              

                Even on bad days, Nathan urges his mom and Tim to take him to The Manchester Firing Line. These days, the cancer has weakened him so he relies on his friend and instructor, Brandon (son of MFL owners, TerryAnn and Jake) to help him reload and help with other details. “I don’t know where he finds the strength to do this—he is very weak,” says Amanda. “But he does; he loves it so much. I truly believe that coming here to shoot keeps him going. I know it reduces his anxiety.”

                Ask Nathan why he shoots, and he doesn’t hesitate: “It’s fun!” he says. “And I like the challenge of it. I also like that when I’m shooting, I’m in my own world for awhile. Nothing else exists, just shooting.” Nathan’s current favorite firearm is the .357 Magnum, a handgun featured in a video game that he enjoys. “Getting to use one in real life is very cool,” he adds.

                While he always wants to improve, Nathan states that his goal is to try as many different firearms as possible and he’s grateful to have Brandon as his guide and teacher. “He’s very helpful,” says Nathan. “He’s very encouraging and I like shooting with him.”

                As Nathan’s interview ended, Tim laughingly noted that he had seized that opportunity to ask Tim to book a shooting slot for the next day.  Tim happily obliged. “We love The Manchester Firing Line and how accommodating they have been for us,” says Amanda. “We also love the fact that this is something we can do to make Nathan happy. Just seeing that smile on his face is worth everything.”

     

  • Mike Morrissette: Of Fathers, Daughters & Firearms by Crystal Ward Kent

    Father/daughter bonding can take many forms. Learn how Mike Morrissette grew closer to his girls at Manchester Firing Line, and the emotional role his dad played in bringing them all together.

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    Father/daughter bonding can take many forms. Learn how Mike Morrissette grew closer to his girls at Manchester Firing Line, and the emotional role his dad played in bringing them all together.

    As Father’s Day approaches, people think of father/daughter dances, not father/daughter shooting time, but for Mike Morrissette, range time at the Manchester Firing Line has long been a special way of bonding with his girls.  He treasures these hours, not only because he loves spending time with his daughters, but also because they remind him of time spent shooting with his dad.

    Morrissette had not done any real shooting until he came to the Manchester Firing Line with his dad some time ago.  “I thought about doing it, and I figured one day I would, but I never did anything about it,” he recalls. “But, my dad kept asking me to go with him. Every month he’d ask and every month I’d blow him off, and then one day, just to get him to stop bugging me, I said ‘yes.’ To my surprise, I enjoyed it. Pretty soon, I started going every month, and now it’s been five years! Thanks to my dad, my entire family shoots. We also go regularly with friends. It’s opened up a whole new world—all thanks to my dad.”

    Initially, Morrissette’s younger daughter, who is now 15, was not 100 percent sold on shooting, finding the loud noises intimidating. “She would come with us, and we would rent her a gun. She’d assume the stance and pretend like she was firing, but leave the safety on, whereas my older daughter began shooting handguns right away. One day, after about a year of my daughter pretending to shoot, we were at the Firing Line and the range safety instructor came over. He could tell that she really wanted to shoot, but just couldn’t make herself do it. He took her over to a different lane and had her get ready, then he looped his finger in with hers, slipped off the safety, and boom! Pulled the trigger. She was startled, but immediately thrilled when she realized she had fired the gun. From then on she was hooked. She’s since shot a .380 Magnum, a 9 mm, and her favorite, a .22. In fact, that’s what she wanted for Christmas! My dad was so proud to see us all enjoying this sport and how knowledgeable the girls have become.”

    Morrissette becomes emotional when he speaks of his dad, who has since passed on. “He was a veteran and he loved to shoot. We all went to the Firing Line last Columbus Day; he was in a wheelchair, but we had a friend who was an EMT come with us. I’m so glad we had this time together. I had to load for him, but he had a great time, never stopped smiling. We thought he’d shoot maybe five rounds, but he shot a whole block. The joy on his face was unbelievable. It was a very special time for all of us.”

    Morrissette has his dad’s guns, and his girls also have one of their grandfather’s pistols, knowing that when they shoot, they are honoring their Pepere.  Morrissette notes that between them, they have everything from a .45 to a .22. “I have six guns, my wife has six, and my daughters each have two,” he laughs. “I also have my dad’s reloading press—it was his first, and it will stay in the family. I’m just proud that my girls know how to handle guns safely and how to protect themselves. That’s what my dad wanted, and what I wanted.”

    Morrissette says the family loves the Manchester Firing Line because of the atmosphere and the friendships they’ve made. “We know all the folks behind the counter and they know us; they know what we want when we come here. Jake, the owner,  is a friend, and we know the instructors. It’s great coming to a place where you feel like family and where everyone hollers ‘hi’ and is glad to see you,” he says. “You can tell we love the place as we all have clothing from here. We only live 10 minutes away, which is good, as we can pop over whenever we want.”

    Morrissette urges others who are thinking about shooting to give the Manchester Firing Line a try. “Take a beginner class. They will teach you how to feel comfortable around a firearm, and if you eventually want to own a gun, they will help you find one that’s the right fit. Shooting is fun; it’s therapeutic and it’s a wonderful friendly environment here. It’s the perfect place to learn.”

    As this dad has discovered, it’s also the perfect place to bond with his girls. “Shooting has definitely brought my family closer,” he says. “It’s given us something to do together and to talk about, and that’s opened the door to more talking in general. My younger daughter even likes to come down and make ammo with me. I’m so grateful to my dad for pestering me to come to the range. He knew what he was doing! I treasure all of my memories of shooting with him, and all of the memories my family and I are making today.”

  • Judy Mueller: Straight Shooter

    Staff at Manchester Firing Line call Judy Mueller the “pistol-packin’ Grammy” and they are not exaggerating.

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    Staff at Manchester Firing Line call Judy Mueller the “pistol-packin’ Grammy” and they are not exaggerating. Mueller, who is 64, is an accomplished shooter who also works at the range part time.  However, three years ago, she had never handled a gun.

                “I started to be concerned about the violence in the world and felt I needed to take steps to protect myself and my family,” explains Mueller. “I thought perhaps I should carry a gun but I didn’t know the first thing about them. I heard about the Manchester Firing Line and signed up for the introductory course. It was the best thing I could have done.  The instructors taught me how to hold a gun, how to shoot, and how to carry one safely. They taught me everything I needed to know in order to handle a gun the right way. Before long, I felt confident enough to own one.  Initially, I came to the range to practice, but now I come because it’s so much fun. I’m definitely hooked!”

                Mueller owns two guns, a Smith & Wesson M &P Easy Shield .380, which she calls her “winter gun,” and a Sig P238 .380, which has a pink scrollwork handle because “a girl wants to have something pretty.” The Sig is her summer gun since it is small and more easily concealed beneath summer clothing, while the heavier Smith & Wesson works fine with bulkier winter clothes.  “I have small hands so I chose guns that are lighter and easier to load and handle,” she notes.  

                About four or five months after Mueller started shooting, she noticed how busy the Firing Line was. “Everyone here is very nice, so the range attracts a good crowd. In fact, many of the people who come here become friends. I thought it would be a fun place to work, so I asked TerryAnn if they needed help. They did and I was hired to work part-time. TerryAnn and Jake are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They are kind, generous and treat their employees first rate. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time here.”

                Mueller especially enjoys working the Monday night car shows which run from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  “We have a great time!” she laughs. “I love giving tours of the range and showing the place off. I enjoy answering people’s questions and encouraging others to give shooting a try. To be honest, I can’t wait to get to work. It’s like nowhere else I’ve ever been employed, not just because it’s a gun range, but because it has such a great atmosphere.”

                Mueller has no further shooting goals, being content with maintaining her proficiency, but she is glad to be an ambassador for her sport.  “People are surprised when they find out that shooting is my hobby, that I carry a gun, and that I work at a gun range,” she says. “It just goes to show that shooting is for everyone. I’m glad I represent a certain age group. Because I’m not what you expect, I think I have gotten many folks interested in learning more.”

    Mueller finds shooting “very therapeutic,” and also enjoys the camaraderie of the range. “There’s just a nice group of people here. I always feel like I’ve come home when I get here.” As for what her family thinks of their gun-toting grandmother, Mueller says, “They find it pretty cool. One of my sons now comes with me to shoot—it’s a fun way to spend time together.”

    Mueller urges anyone interested in learning to shoot to sign up for an introductory class. “The instructors here at Manchester Firing Line are the best. They will make you feel at home, teach you how to safely handle a gun, and instruct you on range etiquette so you feel comfortable practicing. They take away that fear of the unknown and they answer all of your questions. If you decide to ultimately buy a gun, there are all kinds of firearms here for you to try and they will help you pick what’s right for you. Most important, the Firing Line has shown me that shooting is for people of any age. It’s never too late to learn.”

    Mueller is a straight shooter in her conversation as well as on the range; she has no qualms about letting folks know that she is a single lady with a certain target in mind.  “If there are any nice gentleman who think a pistol-packin’ grammy might be their cup of tea, I’d like to meet them!” she laughs.            

     

    Anyone interested in meeting Judy can contact the range and an introduction will be arranged.

  • Ashmee Ellis: A Healing Journey

    ​Most people would not consider a firing range to be a place of healing, but for Ashmee Ellis, it was exactly that. After Ellis lost her mother, she was grieving and stressed.

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    ​Most people would not consider a firing range to be a place of healing, but for Ashmee Ellis, it was exactly that. After Ellis lost her mother, she was grieving and stressed. She had heard others say that shooting helped them clear their heads and release tension; she hoped it would work for her. Ellis had been to a gun range just once before but it had closed down. She went to Manchester Firing Line, and from day one, her life started to change.

    ​“From the minute I walked in, the staff made me feel welcome and comfortable,” she recalls. “I was really nervous and not sure if I was doing the right thing. I’m normally very shy and don’t talk much, but in no time, I was chatting with the instructors and feeling right at home. I went in feeling weighed down by sadness, and I came out feeling better. I also knew that somehow I was going to keep feeling better. I vowed to go back and I haven’t stopped.”

    ​Ellis usually visits the Manchester Firing Line (MFL) once a week, and especially enjoys the weekly Ladies’ Nights. “I love the camaraderie of shooting with other women,” she says. “We come from all walks of life and are all ages, but we have a bond. There are other moms like me, as well as grandmothers, young women and mothers and daughters. Everyone’s very supportive. We all want each other to do well. 

    ​“I also love the little gifts you get,” she laughs. “I’ve saved all of mine—they are the cutest things! I have a littlerose pin with the MFL logo; a ChapStick that is shaped like a tiny gun; sometimes they give out lotion or hand sanitizer. The gifts are just tokens, but make it fun!”

    ​Ellis has shot a variety of guns, but focuses primarily on her favorite, a Glock .45. “I like to try different weapons, just to expand my skills, and the instructors are very encouraging about you trying something new. They come right over and work with you on stance and handling, making sure you are on the right track from square one. Ieven shoot an AK-47. If someone told me at the beginning that one day I’d be shooting a weapon like that, I’d have said that they were crazy but now it’s second nature to me, thanks to the teaching I’ve had.”

    ​Ellis also gives Manchester Firing Line high marks for customer service. “The experience you have here is exceptional and you don’t have this experience at other ranges.  They go above and beyond here to make sure you get what you need.  I’m spoiled!”

    ​Ellis urges anyone else who has thought about shooting to try the Firing Line. “There is no better place to be a beginner. I’ve had a number of friends ask about learning and I’ve brought them all here. They will answer all of your questions and make you comfortable. It’s a great place to get started.”

    ​As for the healing that Ellis initially sought, she credits the Firing Line with helping her find her way to a better place. “This place, and learning to shoot, played a huge role in helping me cope with my mom’s passing,” she says. “I was in a very sad and dark place when I first walked through that door, but now I’m much happier. Every time I return, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come not only in my shooting, but also in my personal journey and my return to a healthier mindset. The Firing Line helped me find my way back. I’ve gotten so much more than great shooting out of my experience. They got me excited about something again and built up my confidence—they made me feel that I could get through this sad time. The Firing Line truly changed my life and I’m extremely grateful to them.”

  • Bob Coombes: Safety Is Number One

    ​Ask long-time member Bob Coombes what he likes about shooting at the Manchester Firing Line and he quickly reels off a long list of positives—good instructors, great environment, lots of camaraderie—but top of his list is how safe he feels.

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    ​Ask long-time member Bob Coombes what he likes about shooting at the Manchester Firing Line and he quickly reels off a long list of positives—good instructors, great environment, lots of camaraderie—but top of his list is how safe he feels. “From day one, I felt safe and comfortable here,” he says. “It was the perfect environment in which to learn to shoot.  I still feel safe, and I tell that to anyone who asks about joining.”

    ​Coombes, who lives in Manchester and is an incident manager for a large warehouse distribution system company, first tried shooting in 2016. “I was initially interested in learning because of the craziness of the world,” he recalls. “I thought I should take the opportunity to learn how to protect myself. I quickly found that I enjoyed shooting and the learning process. Soon, I was bringing friends. I just fell in love with the place and the staff. 

    ​“I really can’t say enough about the Firing Line,” he continues. “Everything is very well organized. Even on weekends, which are very busy, they keep everything running smoothly, and everyone still has time to say ‘hi’ and be social. You can tell they care about their members. My hat is off to them.”

    ​Coombes shoots a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm handgun, a .357 Magnum revolver, and a 9mm 17-shot Ruger, although he primarily uses his Smith & Wesson. “When I first came, I didn’t even know how to hold a gun!” he laughs. “But thanks to the great instructors here, and practice, I’m now fairly proficient. I try to practice with purpose, as muscle memory is important. I come here regularly, by myself or with friends and family. Shooting isn’t a manly/macho thing. I think most of us come becausewe want to be able to use a weapon safely and protect ourselves, but we also come because it’s fun. We have a great time with the people here. We all encourage each other to get better.”

    ​Coombes notes that going to the Firing Line is also an exellent stress reliever. “It’s not just the act of shooting, but talking with friends and meeting new people. It’s the interaction. One hour is never enough. I’d happily be here every day!”

    ​Coombes is very active with the Elks Club, which supports the local community through donations to food pantries and other causes. The Elks are also very involved in helping area veterans’ groups and providing for veterans’needs.  He credits the Firing Line with being a regular benefactor to the Elks’ fundraising efforts. “The Firing Line is committed to assisting veterans and veteran-based causes and they have been a strong supporter of our efforts in that area,” he says. 

    ​Coombes encourages others to learn to shoot, urging them to try it at least once. “Many people have an innate fear of weapons,” he says. “But once you understand the purpose of a weapon, that it is a tool, and how to use it safely, you find it changes your perspective. Once you start shooting, you will most likely be hooked!”

    ​As always, Coombes speaks highly of the Firing Line, and especially their commitment to safety. “The staff is like family to me.  We have a blast here, not just with the shooting but the whole experience. But even with all the fun, the thing that still impresses me the most is that safety is always their number one priority. They have every procedure in place to make you feel safe at any time. And when you feel safe, you can relax, learn and enjoy your time here. I tell you, when I’m shooting here, I’m as safe and snug as a bug in a rug! It doesn’t get any better!”

  • Jay Hochman: “Firing Line Is Family”

    For Jay Hochman, Manchester Firing Line felt like family even before he lived in New Hampshire. Hochman hails from Long Island, New York but had married Kim, who is from New Hampshire.

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    For Jay Hochman, Manchester Firing Line felt like family even before he lived in New Hampshire. Hochman hails from Long Island, New York but had married Kim, who is from New Hampshire. On visits to the Granite State to visit her family, they would often go to the Firing Line to shoot. “Everyone was very welcoming there,” recalls Hochman. “We always had a great time; the staff made it a nice family outing.” 
    ​Trips to the Firing Line might have remained just occasional visits had not Hochman’s in-laws become ill. His wife wanted to move closer to them to aid in their care, and Hochman agreed, so they moved to Manchester in early 2020. On Valentine’s Day 2020, Hochman opened a special card from Kim. “It was a $200 gift card for the Firing Line,” he grins. “A thank you for my moving up here. She knew I wanted to become a member, and now I could. Best Valentine ever!”

    ​Hochman had done some shooting as a young man but never really trained with firearms. “Like most young men and boys, I was always intrigued by things that go ‘boom,” he laughs, “but I’d never had time to learn or even owned a gun. My wife had grown up shooting with her dad, so it was really she that got me hooked. Now I’m at the Firing Line most days of the week. It’s been wonderful. I used to be in the catering and limousine business. Still, I had an injury and have been out on disability. Some days are still hard, but being at the range is a great stress reducer. Shooting clears my mind and releases that stress. I call it ‘lead therapy!’ It gives me something else to focus on. It’s also good to know that I can protect my family if I need to; there is peace of mind in that.”
    ​Hochman has nothing, but praise for the Firing Line’s instructors, who he says have become friends and who he credits for giving him thorough training. “They teach you everything about how to safely handle a gun, from how to clean it to how to safely store it, as well as how to use it. They never make you feel foolish as a first-time shooter if you have a lot of questions. If you are interested in buying a weapon, they help you find the gun that’s right for you. There are hundreds of guns to try at the Firing Line, and trying out different weapons is important. A gun should feel right in your hand; it should feel comfortable if you will be comfortable operating it. I now own a VP9 and a Glock 43. After five months of shooting, I’m fairly proficient with my VP9 and am learning to shoot with the Glock. I’m also working on building an AR-15 now—I’m left-handed, so I need a custom gun—and one of the instructors is assisting with that project.”

    ​While Hochman is proud of his shooting skills and all he has learned, he says it’s the camaraderie that makes the Firing Line a special place, as well as the expert instruction. “It’s become a club, a family,” he says. “It’s like when Norm walked into the bar on that TV show ‘Cheers,’ and everyone hollered ‘Hey Norm!’ That’s how it feels when I walk into the Firing Line. I go all the time, with friends, with my family. In the summer, my brother-in-law and I would bring our wives to shoot, then go have a cookout later and do board games—it became part of our date nights! I go with my father-in-law, too. In fact, for Father’s Day, we rented two lanes and we all went. Jake, the owner of Manchester Firing Line, even sponsors one of my bowling teams and gave us all shirts. That got the guys interested and now some of them have become members and are learning to shoot, along with their wives—it’s that kind of place. Once you come and try it, you want to go back.”

    ​Hochman also feels that shooting at the Firing Line has made him closer with his son. “My son’s in college; he’s 19, and when we first moved up here, we were having some problems. We started shooting together, and it’s brought us closer. We both tried guns we’d never shot before, so we were learning together. It’s been a real father/son bonding experience.

    ​“When I started coming, it was all about the training and learning to protect my family, but now, it’s recreation, too,” he continues. “If I’m having a bad day, I come here, and it’s an escape. I always feel better after I’ve been to the Firing Line.”
    ​Hochman encourages anyone interested in learning to shoot to check out the Firing Line. “They will make you feel at home, and the help you get is amazing. If you get involved with shooting on a regular basis, it’s so convenient because you can reserve lanes, and they have lockers for keeping extra ammunition—they think of everything to make the experience professional and pleasant. And it’s a great Valentine’s gift!”

  • Jennifer Sherer: Aiming for Empowerment

    Jennifer Sherer had always been intrigued by firearms and as a young woman, had wanted to learn to shoot. However, life was hectic and somehow lessons were never possible—until recently.

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    Jennifer Sherer had always been intrigued by firearms and as a young woman, had wanted to learn to shoot. However, life was hectic and somehow lessons were never possible—until recently.  Now a single mom, Jennifer felt an even stronger desire to learn how to safely handle a firearm, and to own one herself. She took a pistol class in August of 2019, and quickly realized that she wanted to learn more.  She also knew she needed more one-on-one instruction if she was to feel truly comfortable with a handgun.  At the Manchester Firing Line, she found not only the training that she wanted but much more. 

    ​“I was really nervous early on, when I took my group class,” she relates. “But when I started working with a private instructor at the Firing Line, the change was amazing. He put me at ease right away. He taught me how to handle the gun properly and emphasized that if I always follow all of the safety protocols, there is nothing to be afraid of. Once I became comfortable, I wanted to keep learning and started taking additional classes. I now shoot a rifle and have enjoyed exploring my proficiency with other guns, such as a Glock 20 10mm, an RPD machine gun and a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver, among others. It’s been very empowering.”

    ​Jennifer has become so proficient that she is now an assistant instructor at the Manchester Firing Line, helping with group classes. She feels that because she is a woman, female students sometimes relate better to her. “There are a lot of women taking classes now and they can be unsure and a little afraid just as I was in the beginning,” she explains. “But when they hear my story, they feel more comfortable. They know that they can learn just as I did.”

    ​Jennifer’s daughter, who is 17, totally supports her mother’s interest in shooting and now joins her at the range, where she is also taking lessons. “She got to fire an AR-15 the other day, which makes a really loud boom,” recalls Jennifer. “At first she was afraid, but then when she did it, the look on her face was amazing. You could see the confidence, because she overcame her fear and used her knowledge. We have a great time shooting together, and I feel it has bonded us.”

    ​Jennifer, who works for a defense contractor, BAE Systems, says her coworkers have also been intrigued by her expertise as a shooter and applaud her time spent training. “Many of them are avid hunters and shooters so it’s helped me build stronger relationships with them. They understand why I enjoy it. Every time I go to the range, I learn something knew—whether it’s how to improve my aim, how to shoot at a longer distance, or how to correct my stance. The whole experience has just improved my confidence overall. I NEVER want to have to draw my gun but knowing that I can operate a weapon safely and can defend myself or my daughter, is a great comfort.”

    ​Shooting at the Manchester Firing Line has also opened the doors to new friendships for Jennifer, who frequents the range as many as five nights a week. “The staff is great to be around and I’ve met some really nice people who have become friends,” she says. “There’s a small group of us that shoot together regularly now. The Manchester Firing Line’s atmosphere definitely fosters a sense of camaraderie, so that’s been an unexpected benefit. Also, when I’m at the range, even though we are shooting, it’s peaceful. It gets rid of a lot of stress and I’ve had a stressful life. When you’re shooting, you are so focused that you let go of everything else. It’s a great escape.”

    ​When Jennifer started shooting, she never dreamed of competing but that changed this fall, when she entered a charity event for Dreams for Marines, a nonprofit. Manchester Firing Line regularly hosts charity events and is a long-time supporter of veterans’ causes as they are a veteran-owned business. The Dreams for Marines event involved contestants firing 10 rounds at a target 35 feet away using a .380 handgun. To Jennifer’s surprise, she won. “It was so much fun!” she enthuses. “After I won, I met with the top officers of the organization, who were former Marines. I was thrilled when they invited me to shoot with them, and even asked my advice. Marines don’t shoot handguns that much, they fire rifles, so they actually welcomed a few pointers. I was over the moon! I couldn’t believe how far I’d come.”

    ​Jennifer hopes to become an instructor and help more people become as comfortable with firearms as she is. “There are not a lot of female instructors out there, so I think I can make a difference,” she says. “Manchester Firing Line encourages female instructors and students so it’s a good place to teach and to learn. I’ve fallen in love with teaching from my time assisting and I’m passionate about learning all I can. I want to share that passion with others.”​

    ​For those who are curious about learning to shoot, but still hesitant to begin, Jennifer has this advice: “Sign up for a class or private lesson. Go ahead and take that first step. It’s not that intimidating once you get good instruction, and Manchester Firing Line is a great place to go. A class can help you feel at ease handling and using firearms and give you more power over your own safety.  Knowing I can protect myself and my daughter has made all the difference in my own education and perception of firearms, and I think many others will feel the same once they start the learning process.”