I don’t remember the first time I heard of Kathy Jackson but I’m sure I know the context. When I started looking at the possibility of carrying a gun for self defense I joined a gun forum my husband frequented called Combat Carry (later morphed into Defensive Carry). Any woman who joins any gun forum could ask the color of the sky and as a response get, “Have you been to CorneredCat.com?”
Men, in an attempts to be helpful and sometimes feeling intimidated by the prospect of dealing with female issues routinely shoo women over to Kathy’s website and for good reason.
In addition to be the woman to literally wrote the book on concealed carry for women, she’s wise, articulate, and has the experience to back up her opinions.
Over the years, Kathy and I exchanged the occasional email and maybe ran across each other on forums but it wasn’t until 2014 that I really got to know this woman that I can now call my good friend.
In 2013 I had decided that I wanted to take all of this gun knowledge and training and do something with it. My goal shifted from being a consumer of training to a producer but I wasn’t sure how to do that and do it in a professional way. My husband pointed me toward Rangemaster and their programs and on the list of “must attend” events was a Rangemaster Tactical Conference. Kathy Jackson would be there and speaking on women’s issues.
Very selfishly, I determined I must get some one-on-one time with her. Weeks before the conference I emailed her asking for a dinner date. She agreed. I felt like I’d nabbed a coveted gold nugget and I’m pretty sure I annoyed my husband for the next few weeks leading up to the conference by dancing around the house and randomly breaking into song to the tune of “na-na-na-na-boo-boo” with lyrics like, “I’m having dinner with Kathy! I’m having dinner with Kathy.”
The conference arrived and less than a few minutes into it I met one of my many idols face to face. Not only was she adorable–dressed in the cutest hat, blazer and blouse, with a gentle, wise face and ready smile–but she was about my height! Instead of pressing her hand out for a traditional greeting, she wrapped her arms around me and pulled me in for a hug like an old friend who was truly happy to see me.
I loved this woman, immediately.
Then I sat in on her “What Women Want” lecture and whatever respect I already had for the woman multiplied itself by ten. I had honestly considered not attending her lecture because I thought, “Well, I’m a woman and I know what I want so do I really need to hear about it from Kathy?”
I’m so glad I sometimes don’t listen to myself.
Her lecture was exceptionally well-researched, direct and insightful. She drew parallels from other industries where women are commonly under-represented and the whole time I kept taking notes feeling a little creeped out that this woman got inside my head without so much as a phone call.
I was putting arrows next to her points that especially resonated with me until I realized my page was filling up with arrows!
That evening we met for barbeque and for the next two hours I felt honored to get to know her on a personal and professional level. She laid down some real practical steps for me to take on my journey to becoming a professional-level instructor and we parted ways as friends.
That conference and meeting changed our relationship and I am honored to call Kathy my friend.
We’ve spent hours and hours and hours (and hours) on the phone since that day and I always take notes. She’s a fountain of wisdom who is both understanding and kind but uplifting. She’s also a natural teacher who never lets me get away from a conversation without teaching me a lesson through a phrase that starts something like, “Now, Melody, let me ask you this…”
When I have a strange or interesting day teaching, she’s the first person I want to call because I know she’ll have been there before and can give me insight. When I’m not sure about a particular way I handled a student or staff of a range personnel, I find myself shooting a message to Kathy asking her opinion. Not only does she have the experience working those scenarios before but she has the experience working them as a woman. And we women instructors have some interesting hurtles even some male instructors may not understand.
On top of all of that, when I reached out to my fellow instructors for guidance on the Families With Firearms Conference she was one of the first to throw her full support behind it.
Her generosity with her wisdom, knowledge and time continue to touch me on an almost daily basis.
I cannot thank her enough and I will never be able to repay her. Which, when I told her as much, in her very honest and blunt way (which I LOVE) she said, “So pay it forward.