Women's Tactical Association: Helping Women Find their Inner Sheep Dog - ITS Tactical

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Women’s Tactical Association: Helping Women Find their Inner Sheep Dog

By Kelly Black

Earlier this year we noticed a more pronounced female audience for all things tactical. As we’ve looked deeper into what’s out there for ITS gals, we’ve been pleasantly surprised. Not only are more women becoming hunting and outdoor sporting enthusiasts, but more women are interested in protecting themselves with a firearm.

As I’ve been looking for content to contribute to ITS I’ve found that one of the recurring questions in my mind is “what can I do to become better prepared for handling myself in a defensive situation?” More specifically, “could I help protect my family if we were the victims of a home invasion, or could I assist with stopping a criminal if I witnessed a crime being committed?” My answer so far is simply “I don’t know…”

Acknowledging the Need

Even if there aren’t many women who are asking themselves those exact questions, I’m willing to guess that one thought I have in common with all of the women who follow ITS, is that if someone attempts to attack my family they’re gonna see a momma bear in action. That also leads me to wonder how best I can protect myself and my family and how quickly can I stop the offender. Again, I have to acknowledge that I just don’t know how I’d react to best assist in any situation.

This is an area where I need training and I can’t get it from my husband no matter how much training he has or how willing to help me he is. There is an intimidation factor when he helps me with my shooting and self-defense skills. I know it’s self-induced because he’s been nothing but a great coach to me, but it’s there all the same. Maybe it’s because I know I can let my guard down with him, which makes me vulnerable. I feel like for this level of training I can’t be vulnerable.

Women’s Tactical Association

I’m excited to share with you what I’ve learned about a group of women in law enforcement who are helping to educate other women on how to think tactically and with defensive skills in mind; Women’s Tactical Association.

The primary mission of WTA is to promote and encourage training and education among female law enforcement in an effort to enhance and refine skills in the areas of firearms, combat mindset, tactics and fitness. If you’re not a member of law enforcement don’t be discouraged.

Because of the tremendous response that WTA has received from civilian women and due to the recent changes in gun laws in Illinios, they are expanding training opportunities to women outside of law enforcement.

Women’s Tactical Association is a non-profit organization located in Chicago, Illinios and offers training in several different areas; Hand to Hand Combatives, Basic Shooting Skills, Technical Entry skills such as lock picking and mechanical breaching and Introduction to the AR-15/M-16 Rifle. Business plans for 2012 include expanding their available training programs to other states including Texas, I’m happy to report!

In Their Words

I had the pleasure of speaking with WTA President and founder Karen Bartuch and Instructor and Board Member Kim Heath about the organization. Karen is currently a full-time law enforcement officer for the Chicago police department and began developing WTA in June of 2010 after realizing more women in Law Enforcement were interested in women’s training for active shooter situations other than what was being offered by her department. “Getting more women involved in SWAT training has been a hurdle, but specialized shooting and entry skills are needed,” Karen noted.

She also mentioned that “women should know the law well, in order to be better prepared; know when to shoot and feel confident with the use of force.” Kim is also a full-time Law Enforcement Officer in the Chicago area and described WTA’s training program as having well respected and highly trained instructors for all of the classes they offer. “This isn’t touchy feely, pink and fluffy just-for-women training; this is the same training as for men, but in a relaxed and fun atmosphere just for women. You don’t have to be G.I. Jane though, we have trainers who can teach women who aren’t so aggressive.”

“It’s my job to get them [women] up to the same level and get on the same page,” Karen described as we were talking about the basic level shooting classes she offers. “They have different approaches for different skill-sets and we’re willing to work in smaller segments if necessary.” She sees women gain confidence with each training course and both Karen and Kim noted that there are “no egos” in their training. They, along with other instructors, are committed to providing the best possible training to women. They’re taking what they’ve learned from their own law enforcement experience and training and also from men experienced in combat to provide the resources women need for self-defense and confident service to their teams and families.

Member Testing Program

Another valuable part of the organization is their Member Testing Program headed up by Kim Heath. Kim described how the clothing and gear they’ve been wearing for years has historically been designed for men. “Things could work better if they’re designed specifically for women; our bodies are different.”

Kim is working with various companies in the tactical industry to test and review garments and equipment that’s being tailored with women’s bodies in mind. WTA is committed to providing the best group of field testers possible for the companies they work with in order to provide solid feedback that will help develop the best possible products for women in the field.

You can find out more about Women’s Tactical Association by joining their Website at no cost or look them up on Facebook. After registering for their site you can access their calendar of classes in the Chicago area, interact with members on the blog and keep track of when WTA will be coming to a state near you. Paid memberships are also available to law enforcement and civilians to help support WTA, with discounts offered on classes and from participating vendors as well as networking opportunities.

With the knowledge of training that’s available from Women’s Tactical Association and other organizations throughout the United States, I’m challenging myself and other women to become better prepared for whatever life might throw at us. Whether we like it or not, we may have to take the lead and defend our lives, our homes and our family at some point in the future. Personally, I need to know I’m ready.

As the ladies of Women’s Tactical Association say, “We Are Training. Are You?”

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  • junebee

    Sheepdog? You couldn’t come up with a better animal reference? Ugh.

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks for reading the article, junebee and for your comment. I must admit the first time I heard that reference I was a bit alarmed. But, after learning what the meaning behind ‘sheepdog’ is I think it well suits the article. Like Eric S. mentioned, I can choose to be either a wolf, a sheep or a sheepdog. The wolf is looking for victims, the sheep can become victim(s), but I can choose to be the sheepdog and fend off the wolf to protect the sheep and myself.

  • Love it! Thanks Kelly and ITS!

    • Kelly Black

      It was so great to chat with you and Kim! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to learn more about your organization and pass it on to our readers.

  • sandra ma

    great article. Good job Kelly!

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks, sandra ! Glad you enjoyed it and I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  • Awesome article Kelly!

    As for the Sheepdog reference I dont see a problem with it (its better than pink poodle). You’re either a wolf, sheep, or sheepdog. Doesn’t matter what sex you are.

    • Blade Stalker

      Or a “Fox,” if you’re lucky. 😉

    • Kelly Black

      I may have to use that one for a future title…. I like it!

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks, Eric! You know, pink poodle was part of my original title. (just kidding, of course… hopefully you remember I’m not a big fan of ‘the pink.’)

  • Beata Staszewski

    Great article-thanks!

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks, Beata! I appreciate you taking the time to read the article and comment!

  • Awesome article Kelly! Can’t wait to see what else is coming!

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks, Mike! There are some awesome resources out there for women and self-preparedness. I’m hoping this article will spur more women to find out what’s available in their areas.

  • Blade Stalker

    Great story, passing this story to the Mrs. 🙂

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks for checking out the article and for your comment, Blade!

  • great article…recently I had a similar discussion with couple buddies who are homicide detective & a police chief who’s the chief in a small suburb of Seattle. We concluded that today’s LE & military is a young man’s(woman’s) career. There comes a time when our bodies just don’t bend, twist or recover the same way as when we were younger, even if one is in peak physical condition! We just get old! thanks for your insights and thanks to WTA and their commitment to help keep the next generation of females highly skilled in tactical warfare! Ive spent most of my life in the Marines and in law enforcement, while my mind knows what I need to do, its my body that’s having the difficulty in responding!

    • Kelly Black

      Hi Deborah, thanks for your reply! Hopefully mind over matter will prevail when you need it to!

  • Michael

    You can’t imagine how glad I am to see women showing an active interest in tactical skills – it’s not something I get to see often around here (Greece). Given the opportunity and since you’re law enforcement, I have a question: in the event that a drug addict tries to attack you (me) with a -presumably used- syringe, what do you do? I ask because I’ve studied the FM 3-25.150 manual and albeit I understand the techniques shown for defense against an assailant armed with a knife or a firearm, there is no reference to a syringe that probably is infected with God knows what diseases like AIDS or hepatitis (among others) thus, a mere scratch can prove to be fatal (something that is rather unlikely if the same scratch comes from a knife). For the record, that is a scenario that actually happened to me a few months ago and I’m only here today because of my study of the FM 3-25.150 and my quick reflexes (I am a civilian with no formal military or LE training). Still, I know that there has to be a way to deal with such a situation safer than the knife combatives from the manual (or at least there should be) so, here I am, asking. Thanks and good luck!

    • Kelly Black

      Hi Michael, I’ve forwarded your question on to the ladies at WTA so an experienced person can best answer your question. Thanks for your feedback on the article!

  • Irishmanlost

    Wow, that was a coincidence, I was just a watching a video about US Cultural Support Teams. These are all female teams who provide support to Army Special Forces. Great article !

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks for checking out the article, Irishmanlost!

  • Great article! I plan to share this with my wife too. Thanks!

    @Michael June 4, 2011 at 8:18 am – Pleae pardon me for answering your question as I know it was directed at the author, I just felt I could provide you with some food for thought. I would suggest you learn the laws pertaining to self-defense in Greece. If they are anything like those in the United States, you would be justified in defending yourself up to and likely including, lethal force. The needle could very easily cause great bodily harm or possibly death if in fact it could at all be contaminated. You just don’t know. The fact that your assailant is weilding the syringe and needle as a weapon could indicate to a reasonable and prudent person that the device was in fact infected with something. This of course would give pause to any law enforcement officer faced with the same situation and would very likely justify an armed response. Granted, many LEO’s are now equiped with tasers that are less-than-lethal options but citizens may not have that technology at their disposal and might therefore have to rely on either empty hand tactics (least favorable) or possibly a concealed firearm (more favorable at least here in the USA).

    Presented with the same situation I would want to 1. Escape, if possible to do so SAFELY or 2. Keep the assailant at a distance from me with whatever I had available so as not to get stuck. If that means using my firearm then I would feel I had no other option and would be justified in doing so.

    • Kelly Black

      Thanks for reading and for your feedback, Christopher! I hope your wife enjoys the article, too.

    • Michael

      Thanks a lot Mr. Doner. Any kind of reply is more than welcome! I’m actually glad that you mention the laws since that gives me an excellent excuse to summarise that subject. Simply put, even a simple swiss army knife can be considered a concealed weapon by any officer and off course judge if it ever comes to that. Moreover, if you put any kind of aiming device other than your standard iron sights to… even an airsoft gun, it is considered an illegal posession of firearm regardless if it is a real sight (say an Aimpoint M2 on an airsoft M4) or a copy (the type used in airsoft). Still, everyone is using them (myself included). Like I said in a post of mine in the forum (my only post since I’m here to learn – the post is in the EDC thread) where I give pretty much every detail I can remember about the incident (and the laws, etc), this is the twilight zone. Let me give you an example if you like: There was an elder man whose home was invaded a few months ago by two burglars at some village at Peloponese and he defended himself with a kitchen knife, injuring both burglars IN his own property. They escaped and one of them died as a result of the bleeding (he was wounded in the thigh – my guess is that an artery either femoral or obturator got severed). Anyway, the other guy was arrested. Both the burglar that got arrested and the old man ended up in trial and both found guilty. The burglar currently does six months and the old man (70+ years old if I remember correctly) twenty years for manslaughter… Anyway, less than lethal devices are -as you probably can guess by now- illegal here and unlike aiming devices, impossible to obtain legally unless you have a “friend” in the parliament that will take care of things with a couple of phone calls (but if you have such a friend, why buy a tazer and not a Glock 17 with hollow-points?). The only firearm that a civilian can legally own is a shotgun (obviously not particularly useful unless you live up in a village away from a big city) and there’s only a handful of exceptions (other than active law enforcement and military personell) that a civilian can own a rifled-barrel firearm (being a professional athlete say in 10m rifle is one such exception). The official advice from the local police (check their website if you like: http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&perform=view&id=123&Itemid=116&lang=EN) is to just give up, do as you’re told (by the attacker) and pray they won’t injure or kill you anyway. As for the chances the syringe is infected, I’d say it’s about 97%… I remember he actually challenged me when he saw that I wouldn’t just give up by saying something to the effect “wanna get AIDS?”. To tell you the truth, it’s not the physical injury that concerns me (it’s not that I never had a normal accident before in my life) as the very real hazard of highly infectious and perhaps incurable deseases (I’ve survived leukemia and I can say that I absolutely hate the very idea of being anywhere near a doctor or a hospital – strange enough, some of my best friends are doctors). I even thought of obtaining a stab-proof vest once (a Level III Kevlar vest would have been too much – not to mention the 38+ degrees Celsius of Greek summer) but I gave up the idea. Plus, I’m a computer geek with a long interest (of more than 10 years) in the outdoors (I’m 24 years old and a city boy). If I put any vest on, it would be obvious from 1.000m (and it will draw a lot of unwanted attention) not to mention that a mere scratch can prove to be fatal and the vest -any vest- only covers the torso. So, I’ve got myself a KA-BAR TDI, practiced a lot with it so as to make sure that I’ll deploy it instinctively should such an action ever becomes necessary (plus some other things that I mention in the forum post), I keep my eyes open (I learned that -situational awareness- in school – sometimes it helps being a geek because you become a target for the bullies and when they don’t understand the meaning of the words “back off” you get to kick their ass and I must admit that afterwards you feel so good with yourself…) and I just hope I’ll never need any of that stuff… Next time though, I hate to say it but law won’t make me hesitate neither the knowledge of the harm my actions will cause to the attacker and to that effect, I’ve developped a rule (after the incident): when you shoot (strike/attack/ put any verb you like), shoot to kill (preferably on first shot). Why? It’s not a game, there’s no referee and there is no guarantee other hostiles won’t pop up out of nowhere to get you so if you must fight, you must also make sure that when a target goes down, he’ll stay down. Sorry if that’s too harsh but my grandfather had a saying; he said “son, if you ever have to choose between facing a judge or facing a priest, always pick the judge”. Obviously by “facing a priest” he meant ending up dead… Funny guy my grandpa, God rest his soul…

      PS: If you check the Hellenic Police website above, check advice #5 “Walk at the inner side of the pavement and hold your bag tight by the hand facing the wall and not the street.”
      Here’s what I think of that: As I walk at the inner side of the pavement, I’m putting myself with my back against the wall so, if something happens, I’ve already limited my options considerably. Why holding my bag tight? To tell the bad guys that I’m afraid or to act as if I have something valuable inside and become a target? Moreover, why holding a bag in the first place? Isn’t it better to have a versipack with all my things in it and my hands free at all times so as to be able to react to… well, anything? I could just keep writing and writing but this became way too long… Sorry for the length but this is one case that details do make a whole lot of difference. Again, thank you Mr. Doner and everyone else here at ITS, you’ve been extremely helpful! Keep up the good work!

  • randypb

    Great to see you posting Kelly! Look forward to more posts.


  • Raven

    Hey Kelly. I know this is an older post but my gf just signed up with WTA and she loves it! I’m going for the life membership with ITS now so hopefully we can have a multifaceted relationship when it comes to the tactical aspect! Thanks again for the post! Sorry I’m late!

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