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.

Mary Jane Dameron



Who or what got you into shooting?:
My grandfather started teaching me to shoot a rifle when I was very small; I won my first trophy at age 12 in a rifle shooting contest. I graduated to a shotgun and started upland game hunting while still in elementary school. More recently I started taking NRA pistol classes, and I've become addicted to shooting.

Do you shoot handguns, shotguns, rifles or all of the above?:
Shotguns and rifles in the past, now mostly handguns.

Why are you involved with the NRA or how do you support their efforts?:
The NRA is dedicated to creating safe and skilled shooting in the United states. I recently acquired my NRA pistol instructors certification.

Tell us about the first gun you owned or your favorite gun.:
My first gun of my own was a Winchester Model 42 .410 skeet grade shotgun that I got for a birthday present in 1955 when I was 12. I rabbit and bird hunted with it for decades with my family, and I still have the gun.

What's your current go-to gun?:
Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm full size

What's your favorite shooting range or place to hunt?:
Harrisburg Hunters Range, in Carrier Mills, IL

Do you have a favorite accessory or clothing item you won't go shooting or hunting without? What makes it so important?:
When I go to the range, I have a range bag full of everything I think I might need, including bandaids and screwdrivers, pink magic marker, whiteout, extra ears and eyes, flashlight, staple gun, targets, speed loader...many more things. So many more that I often have to cram the gun and ammo in there.

What's your most unusual gun-related item?:
A pink Uplula

What's your best or most memorable moment as it relates to firearms?:
My first rabbit with my .410 at age 12. More recently, qualifying in the NRA Advanced Defensive Pistol class on the first try.

I own a gun because:
I can. Well, more than that -- I have a gun for two reasons. #1 is for recreation and #2 is for defense. I hope I only ever have to use #1.

Tell us the best (or worst) gun advice you've ever been given.:
Worst: from my grandfather, when I was very small: "Don't pull back on the trigger--that'll make you jerk the gun. Squeeze your whole hand." As a result, I had a lifetime of poor trigger control which I still am fighting to correct.

What's your easiest gun to handle and shoot? Hardest?:
My Smith & Wesson M&P 9 seems to just find the target by itself (with a bit of help from Crimson Trace since I'm so farsighted). Hardest is any double action handgun since my fingers are so short; I have a hard time getting enough finger on the trigger to cope with the longer stiffer pull.

What would be your recommendation for best entry-level gun?:
My suggestion would be a .22 in both a handgun or a long gun. Ruger Mark III is a good entry handgun, dependable and mine seems to shoot anything I put in it. I'm a believer in single shot bolt action .22 rifles for beginners.

Your ideal shopping trip: the mall or an outdoor outfitter?:
Oh -- I could spend hours at an outdoor outfitters!

What do you think is the best home defense — firing or fleeing?:
If you can flee, wonderful; if that isn't possible, sometimes firing is all you can do.

Who or what inspires you?:
NRA instructors Larry Morse and Mike Corkran.

What's your favorite holiday? Why?:
Since I'm retired, every day is a holiday and I love them all.

What do you do to relax and unwind — watch TV, listen to music, go to movies, catch a game, exercise, something else?:
Watch a Cardinal baseball game, fish or go to the range. Or there's always a good book on a cold or rainy day. ;)

Your greatest accomplishment?:
I taught physical education for 32 years and coached a lot of good teams in that time. One June on the last day of school, one of the freshman in one of my classes said to me: "I never knew I could learn skills before, but I found out I can, and it's changed how I feel about myself and my whole life."