In the heart of Hill Country is an annual girls’ getaway. But this one is a little different—it has more than 250 attendees and involves shooting from a helicopter. A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League was founded by Julianna Crowder in 2011 as a way for women to connect with other women who are passionate about shooting and want to learn in a supportive environment. The first two conferences were held in Waco, then moved to Copperhead Creek Shooting Club in Marble Falls.
Copperhead Creek Shooting Club provides multiple areas for different kinds and distances of shooting such as pistol, skeet and long range. A 5,000-square-foot clubhouse with two breakout rooms is available for indoor sessions. Twenty-nine RV sites with hookups are also offered for conference participants to use.
“In Texas, the biggest challenge is the weather,” says Executive Director Robyn Sandoval, Crowder’s teammate in running the league and conference. “Some years the weather is cold and stormy, while in 2016 it was so warm we were worried about sun exposure and heat stroke. We are limited on indoor training space and activities, so it’s a big concern.”
Because A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League is headquartered in Texas, it’s close to home, so logically easier for the Crowder and Sandoval to plan. “Fortunately, Texas is very firearms friendly, so it’s easy for ladies to travel here with their guns. And the ammo pallet is so heavy and we require a lot of loaner and teaching gear and equipment, so it really prevents us from taking the conference on the road,” says Sandoval. “And we wouldn’t have Heli Gunner outside of Texas.”
Classes range from learning about self-defense to how to participate in competitions, but a big draw is Heli Gunner, where participants get to fly up in a helicopter and shoot at targets on the ground. Crowder explains, “Heli Gunner is the brainchild of Jeremy Stillman. He has a background as a first responder, search and rescue, and combined with his experience in the firearms industry, it just came together. They started doing aerial tours, hog hunts and aerial gunner on private property in Temple, Texas. When we moved our national conference to Copperhead Creek Shooting Club in Marble Falls, it was a perfect fit for all of us, plenty of room to do aerial gunnery and a wonderful range to hold our classes.”
“Everyone should do Heli Gunner,” says conference participant Samol Hefley, from Washington State. “It’s so much fun and it’s completely safe. It’s an unbelievable experience that I would never have a chance to do anywhere else.”
“You can take a helicopter tour anywhere you go,” says Crowder. “Shooting from one is pretty unique.”