Smith and Wesson

Welcome to the NRA Women's Channel

Presented by Smith & Wesson

NRA Women is designed for female gun enthusiasts. It's a resource for news, education, events and more. And we're telling more stories of empowered women like you. Come explore, connect, celebrate and unite with the women of NRA.

Kristine Hayes

Biology Department Manager at Reed College


Portland, Oregon

Who or what got you into shooting?
Three years ago I opened up my gun safe and discovered I was afraid to touch the revolver I kept in there. Realizing that having a gun I was afraid of wasn't doing me any good, I drove down to my local sheriff's office and signed up for a beginning handgun safety course. I was the only woman in the class (and the only revolver shooter) and I earned the top score in the shooting test at the end of the day. I was instantly hooked on shooting!

Do you shoot handguns, shotguns, rifles or all of the above?
All of the above.

Why are you involved with the NRA or how do you support their efforts?
I am an NRA certified instructor for Pistol, Personal Protection in the Home as well as being an NRA certified Range Safety Officer. I believe the NRA does a great job promoting the safe use of firearms as well as promoting firearm ownership among women. I have used NRA teaching materials to help instruct several friends of mine in the safe and proper use of firearms.

Tell us about the first gun you owned or your favorite gun.
My first gun was a Smith & Wesson snub-nosed .38 special revolver. Though I shoot competitively with semi-automatic pistols, I still carry a revolver as my main personal protection firearm.

What's your current go-to gun?
My Smith and Wesson M&P Pro.

What's your favorite shooting range or place to hunt?
Chehalem Valley Sportsman Club in Dundee, Oregon.

Do you have a favorite accessory or clothing item you won't go shooting or hunting without? What makes it so important?
Hand warmers! I have a circulation disorder that leaves my hands numb if I don't keep them warm. Shooting in the Northwest during the winter months is often a cold (and very wet) hobby!

What's your most unusual gun-related item?
I have a .22LR conversion for my AR-15 rifle. While not particularly 'unusual' it is a very useful addition to my firearms paraphernalia. I use the conversion kit in my rifle when I shoot at local "Speed Steel" competitions.

What's your best or most memorable moment as it relates to firearms?
Being named the "Top Shot" at my very first handgun class. I was the only woman and the only revolver shooter in the class which made the award that much sweeter.

I own a gun because:
I own several guns for a variety of reasons. I shoot competitively but I also have a concealed carry permit so I have a variety of reasons to keep a variety of firearms!

Tell us the best (or worst) gun advice you've ever been given.
The best advice I was given when learning to shoot was to go slow and develop excellent basic techniques. It's far easier to get better when your basic techniques are solid and correct. I appreciate that I have had great instructors throughout my shooting 'career' because they helped me build a very solid foundation of skills that have stayed with me and allowed me to become a top competitive shooter in my area.

What's your easiest gun to handle and shoot? Hardest?
I don't find any of my guns hard to handle or shoot. Each of them (shotgun, rifle and handgun) require a slightly different skill set to operate but the fundamental operation of each of them (good sight picture, smooth trigger pull) remains the same. With over 200+ hours of firearms-related-education, I feel confident in handling all of the firearms I own.

What would be your recommendation for best entry-level gun?
The best gun for any given person varies greatly depending on their needs, body size, etc. The best gun for someone who wants to be a competitive pistol shooter is probably going to be a very different gun than I would recommend for someone looking to carry concealed.

Your ideal shopping trip: the mall or an outdoor outfitter?
Going to the local gun stores and browsing for guns and accessories is one of my favorite pastimes.

What do you think is the best home defense — firing or fleeing?
I believe there is no one right answer when it comes to defending oneself. Each self-defense situation outcome is dependent up on the events that are unfolding at the time the situation is occurring. I've taken a number of defensive firearms classes and each taught me the importance of remaining calm and assessing a situation based on the information available.

Who or what inspires you?
I believe the true heroes in our country are those who serve and protect--our First Responders and our active and retired military members.

What's your favorite holiday? Why?
I enjoy any holiday that I get to spend with friends and family.

What do you do to relax and unwind — watch TV, listen to music, go to movies, catch a game, exercise, something else?
I participate in a number of very physical sports in order to stay in shape and build/develop my upper body strength. I believe having the upper body strength that I do helps tremendously in my shooting. I do CrossFit, Krav Maga and Aerial Arts in order to stay strong.