Combat to Clays: A Woman’s Journey

When I left theFBIAcademyafter sixteen weeks of training in 1986, I was covered in the most beautiful shades of purple, green, and yellow from my face to my collarbone, and down my bicep. The shotgun was too long, and my long neck and high cheekbones made it impossible to mount the gun properly to my shoulder while maintaining a proper sight picture (which is critical to defensive shotgun shooting). I lifted my face off the gun while shooting creating a horrible flinch, and all of the bad habits that ensue when shooting an ill-fitted gun followed suit. I was convinced that no one had ever hated a shotgun like I did in my bruised and frustrated condition.


Despite all odds, I was determined to accomplish two things:  learn to shoot properly without pain, and share with others (especially women), the training and tricks I had learned over time. Thirteen years later, armed with the knowledge that comes from first-hand experience and training, I was hired by the NRA’s Law Enforcement Activities Division. I had the opportunity to share what I had learned by training police officers and members of the military to become Law Enforcement Firearm Instructors in handgun, rifle, and yes, shotgun.

I set my sights on expanding my shotgun knowledge into other realms.I sought out top combat and competitive instructors, and made great progress after spending a week at Tac Pro Shooting Center in Texas with Bill Davidson, and practicing with the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Grand Master Greg Wodack (who manages the NRA Range in Fairfax, VA).

Believe it or not, I now enjoy shooting three-gun matches (imagine cowboy action shooting with modern firearms), and I teach students to use shotguns for action shooting and home defense.

The world of shotgunning is so large, that it was not until two years ago that I first tried my hand at trap shooting.  I was invited by a co-worker and I took the only shotgun I owned: a Remington 1100. It had a black pistol grip stock and 10 round magazine tube – I was quickly told that I needed to buy a different gun for trap so that I wouldn’t scare everyone.

After talking to a few friends and co-workers that were familiar with shotguns, I selected a Krieghoff International K-80 Pro Sporter. It has met all of my expectations for a “social shotgun” – it is expertly balanced, points well, and has a crisp mechanical trigger.  I love the beautiful wood and craftsmanship, and the great service I have received since purchasing it.

I am now on a journey to learn how to successfully shoot and enjoy trap, sporting clays, and five-stand. It has been a journey – from the FBI training that left me in colorful tones of purple, green, and yellow to the clay sports that I really enjoy.  A lot of training, practice, and determination has brought this girl a long way from 1986.

I would like this column to reflect all the various interests that women have in shooting shotguns: sporting, hunting, and self-defense. I would also like to encourage everyone to help increase the number of women who take that first step to pick up a shotgun and learn how to safely shoot, and then become lifetime shooting or hunting enthusiasts.  I look forward to sharing stories of women and their shotguns.

Heide Kaser has worked for the National Rifle Association since 1999, and is now the Assistant Director of Strategic Giving at the National Rifle Association.  She is currently working with national leaders to develop the Women’s Leadership Forum.  This group seeks to identify, inform, and involve women in the shooting sports, hunting, and helping to secure the future of the NRA.


Heide became an FBI Special Agent after completing her Masters in Criminal Justice at American University in 1985, and took time off from her career to be a full-time mother before joining the NRA Law Enforcement Activities Division.  Heide is an avid USPSA competitor, an NRA certified firearm instructor for pistol, rifle, and shotgun, and is now focusing on shooting clays.


You can reach Heidi at


    Leave a Reply

    XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    Shotgun Life Newsletters

    Join an elite group of readers who receive their FREE e-letter every week from Shotgun Life. These readers gain a competitive advantage from the valuable advice delivered directly to their inbox. You'll discover ways to improve your shooting, learn about the best new products and how to easily maintain your shotgun so it's always reliable. If you strive to be a better shooter, then our FREE e-letters are for you.