At the beginning of a new year, it’s always helpful to take a quick look around. Where have you been? Where are you going? Do you like the direction your life is headed, right now? If so, what can you do to make it even better? If not, what can you change to bring the focus back to where you want it?
For me, right now that process involves looking at Cornered Cat. First, a little history. For those who don’t know, Cornered Cat is an idea that “just grew” from things that were happening in my life more than a dozen years ago.
When I started shooting, back in late 1999 or early 2000, there really wasn’t a lot of support for women gun owners online – at least, not for women specifically interested in concealed carry and self defense. Oh, there were plenty of sites about women with guns. But those sites weren’t exactly for women, if you know what I mean. In addition to these soft porn sites, there were hundreds if not thousands of sites about gun politics, and there were hundreds of uber-tactical sites for the Walter Mitty types and the fantasy warriors. You know the type I mean: black background, white text, red highlights with blood splatters splashed artistically in the background, full of angry screeds about killing them all and letting God sort them out. When I looked for simple, realistic information designed for realistic people, there wasn’t much I could find. And I could count the number of useful sites with information intended for women on one hand.
Partly because of this lack, I started building my own little reference library. I’ve kept a quotes file since I was a little girl. The earliest iteration was, quite literally, scrawled in crayon in a school notebook, but I later got smart and moved it onto the computer where it has lived ever since. So when I started shooting, I read a lot and, true to my life-long habit, I took a lot of notes that ended up in my quotes file. Because I was very serious about learning to protect myself in the most efficient and practical ways, I studied and shot in many professional firearm training classes, saving notes and quotes from each one. Those early classes and the books I read really fueled my thirst to share what I was learning with others.
Because I’d taken so many classes and had a burning desire to help others learn, I started writing. At first, I just wrote for my own use. Later, I was participating on several different firearms discussion boards, and the things I’d written for my own use came in handy there. But I got tired of re-stating the things I’d already said elsewhere every time I posted on a message board, so eventually I thought, “Hey, why not put up a site of my own? One that isn’t designed for scary tactical people, but for ordinary people or even for women who want to know how to protect themselves in realistic ways?”
Thus was born my pink website about guns. The first version of Cornered Cat was a little rough around the edges, and over the top in feminine design. Its primary motif was pink lace – lots of pink lace. I wanted it to be super-clear that this was a site owned and run by a woman, not by a wanna-be man with a raging case of penis envy.
Back in real life, in 2003 I started working as an apprentice instructor at the Firearms Academy of Seattle. By 2005, I became a fully qualified instructor in my own right, so I have been teaching defensive firearms classes for a decade now as part of a team at a professional firearms training school. It’s work I love, and it makes a genuine difference in people’s lives.
Another thing I’ve enjoyed doing: writing for gun magazines. That happened at the urging of my friend and mentor Gila Hayes. She told me I needed to be doing that, so I did. I started with simple gun reviews and later branched out to other things. By 2008, I had become the editor at Concealed Carry Magazine. At the time, that publication had a circulation of only 20,000 people, but by the time I left four years later, it was around 60,000. During the same period, one of CCM’s columnists asked me to co-author a book with him. Mark Walters and I wrote Lessons from Armed America in 2009.
Meanwhile, my little website for women gun owners grew, and grew, and grew some more. Eventually, I started getting emails from people who wanted to see information about concealed carry for women in a book. That was a big step, but I did it. Thus was born The Cornered Cat: A Woman’s Guide to Concealed Carry, which was published in 2010. When people ask how long it took me to write the book, I never know quite what to say. Measured one way, it took about four months. Measured another way, it took eight years or more.
Although I was thrilled with my firearms training work and with my book sales, I wasn’t happy with where my professional life was headed. The work at CCM was taking all of my creative energy, so much so that I had nearly stopped writing on my own even though I love writing. There were also some organizational changes taking place behind the scenes at CCM’s parent company, good changes but not the direction I personally wanted to go with my life. I had to make a decision, and I did.
In fall 2012, I stepped out in a leap of faith and founded Cornered Cat LLC as a traveling defensive firearms training company that will focus primarily on the needs of concealed carry people. My goal for the next few years is to travel a lot and enjoy myself while teaching people how to protect themselves using firearms.