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.

Nancy Donaldson


Darien, IL

Who or what got you into shooting?

I'm a US Army veteran, so was familiar with firearms but my husband is the one who got me hooked into recreational 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 and Chief Range Safety Officer.

Tell us about the first gun you owned or your favorite gun.

My favorite shotgun is a 12g Beretta 686E that has been modified to fit me. My favorite handgun is an H&K USP Compact in .45.

What's your current go-to gun?

I don't really have just one. Because I hunt, teach, target shoot and practice, the right tool varies.

What's your favorite shooting range or place to hunt?

The Aurora Sportsmen's Club in Waterman, IL is my favorite range. Hilltop Meadows Hunt Club is the best local place for hunting.

Do you have a favorite accessory or clothing item you won't go shooting or hunting without? What makes it so important?

Binoculars, because you never know when you'll get a unique wildlife viewing opportunity.

What's your best or most memorable moment as it relates to firearms?

There are so many gratifying moments when you're helping others learn about shooting or hunting that it's hard to pin down just one.

I own a gun because:

In this country, I have the right and the option to do so.

Tell us the best (or worst) gun advice you've ever been given.

Best advice: do not purchase a gun until you know what you plan to do with it and have taken a basic firearms safety class.

What's your easiest gun to handle and shoot? Hardest?

Easiest is SigP226 for me. Hardest is CZ Rami in .40 cal.

What would be your recommendation for best entry-level gun?

For a new shooter learning handgun or rifle, any reasonably priced, good quality firearm in .22LR is best so you can learn the basics without developing a flinch. For shotgun, any good 20g semi-auto that fits well enough to mount it properly.

Your ideal shopping trip: the mall or an outdoor outfitter?

I don't like to shop, but when I do you can bet it's for more shooting gear.

What do you think is the best home defense — firing or fleeing?

Depends on the situation. As an Instructor I try to help others consider this question in various scenarios and contexts so that they can make the best decision for themselves and their loved ones.

Who or what inspires you?

Military veterans who have offered everything, including and up to the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can enjoy our rights and freedom.

What's your favorite holiday? Why?

Every day is a holiday when you're doing what you love to do.

What do you do to relax and unwind — watch TV, listen to music, go to movies, catch a game, exercise, something else?

Read, cook, and watch movies.

Your greatest accomplishment?

There's nothing greater than seeing the light come on in someone else's eyes when, in the course of a class or coaching session, they "get it."