Shooters experience a rush at the range on ‘Ladies Day Out’
BY DANIELLE KOPACKI
OU News Bureau
Feet planted at shoulder width, Rebecca Hemmesch raises the handgun and exhales. She pulls trigger and a bullet tears a hole through her paper target. It is “Ladies Day Out” and about 18 women have gathered at a small range in Macomb County’s Chesterfield Township to practice shooting. The class is led by National Rifle Association-certified instructor Mary Polkowski of Ultimate Protection Academy.
Most of the nearly 20 women attending Ladies Day Out used pink-and-black ear protection. PHOTO/DANIELLE KOPACKI
Hemmesch, a psychology student at Wayne State University, says her professors do not condone shooting to relieving stress. However, many of the women who come to shoot, including Hemmesch, do so to relieve tension and experience the rush in addition to learning how to protect themselves.
“It’s kind of exhilarating,” Hemmesch said. “I like the challenge. It’s always a goal to hit the center.”
Hemmesch doesn’t immediately reveal to new acquaintances that she attends shooting classes, because gun control is such a controversial issue. She said that people sometimes seem surprised when she mentions her hobby.
“I think it more surprises people because I’m quiet,” Hemmesch said.
“Ladies Day Out” attracts women of different age groups and levels of experience, and allows women to shoot without having to compete with men.
Some women, however, compete with men unabashedly.
Wendy Liske has, so far, passed Pro-Marksman, Marksman, Marksman 1st Class, and Sharpshooter NRA courses. He husband, Leo, proudly presented her with her most recent certificates at the beginning of class. Liske helps Polkowski instruct shooters at the range.
Liske said that many women, when they first come to shoot, are scared, but feel a rush afterward. While she enjoys shooting, Liske also said that she wants to be able to safely defend herself and her family.
“I want to know when I pick up my gun that I’m doing it in the right instance,” Liske said. She wants to ensure that there are no gun accidents.
Polkowski stresses to her students the importance of proper gun usage. At the beginning of the class, she runs through range rules to ensure that her students shoot safely.
At the beginning of the session, Mary Polkowski give a recap of range rules, which include wearing eye and ear protection at all times, keeping guns facing downrange, and ceasing fire when she calls out or blows her whistle. PHOTO/DANIELLE KOPACKI
“The more responsible someone is, the more they realize how important it is,” Polkowski said. She flits from shooter to shooter during the class, giving tips, reminders and praise.
Polkowski first got involved with shooting when she decided in the 1990s to become proactive about protecting herself. But when she looked for a female NRA instructor, she couldn’t find one.
She saw a niche and completed all of the necessary courses to become NRA certified. Her passion to teach helped lead her to form the United Ladies Training in Marksmanship and Total Empowerment Ladies Club, or ULTIMATE Ladies Club.
Along with teaching about firearms and shooting, she sought to teach awareness and physical defense. She and husband, Allen, operate Ultimate Protection Academy.
Leo Liske presents his wife, Wendy, with certificates for completing NRA courses for Marksman 1st Class and Sharpshooter. PHOTO/DANIELLE KOPACKI