Ladies Night

Robin Kasckow, left, Newport Rifle Club chief instructor, coaches Lisa Knowles of Middletown at a recent women-only firearms safety and marksmanship session. Pistol safety class for women held at Newport Rifle Club Newport Rifle Club recently held its third free pistol safety and shooting skills session for women only.

Eight women participated in the two-hour, hands-on class, the maximum number the indoor range accommodates. The idea for the training came from one of the club’s female members, who pointed out the growing number of women at the club who are new to shooting. Female membership began growing about 10 years ago and has now reached approximately 20 percent of the club’s 700 members.

Founded in 1876, Newport Rifle Club is the oldest continuously operating gun club in the US. The club provides a wide range of safety, marksmanship and firearms care training for youth and adults and offers a number of competitions within the club and throughout the state. General and membership information can be found at

Battle of the Bulge

In Newport This Week, 12,28/17

Honoring Battle of the Bulge
For the seventh straight year, the Newport Rifle Club held a shooting competition to commemorate American servicemen who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Shooting at 50 and 100 yards with the types of rifles that were used in the battle, Kevin Mathis of Middletown finished first, Keith Silvia of Bristol was second and Paul Donovan of Newport was third. Craig Corsetti of Newport won the Panzer shoot, which was a 100-yard one shot from the prone position at a nine-inch wide picture of a German tank.

On Dec.16, 1944, Hitler launched the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and bloodiest fighting of World War II involving U.S. troops in Europe. The
battle raged for 45 days in such bitter cold, snow and rain that tanks froze to the ground and many soldiers suffered severe frostbite and trench foot. Of the 610,000 U.S. forces in the fighting, 19,000 died and 70,000 were wounded. The Battle of the Bulge was the last major German offensive and left their military so depleted that they surrendered less than five months later.

Founded in 1876, Newport Rifle Club is the oldest continuously operating gun club in the country. With a membership of 700, the club provides a wide range of safety, marksmanship and firearms care training for youth and adults and offers a number of competitions within the club and throughout the state. For more information, visit

NRC Mother and Daughter Champions

A Mother and Daughter from Portsmouth win at the National Rifle Association National Championships

Two members of the Newport Rifle Club in Middletown – Portsmouth residents Michele Makucevich and her daughter, Danielle Makucevich – were part of an all-female team at the National Rifle Association National Championships in Bristol, Indiana, last month.

The team, called the Lady Black Hawks, won three events – Team Any Sights, Team Iron Sights, Aggregate Prone – and in doing so posted the highest aggregate score for the three events, beat the United States Army team and broke two longstanding national records.

In Team Any Sights, the Lady Black Hawks were the only team to post a perfect score of 1,600 with a total of 131 center X bullseyes, besting the national women’s team record from 1981 by 16 points.

In Team Iron Sights, the foursome scored 1,599 our of a possible 1,600, eclipsing the Army Marksmanship Unit by a point and toppling a women’s team national record that had stood since 1976. The Lady Black Hawks won the Team Aggregate Championship, scoring 3,199 of a possible 3,200 with 246 dead-center bullseyes.

Danielle Makucevich, who attends the University of Akron on shooting and academic scholarships, was unable to compete because of an injury, but served as the team’s captain and coach.

Danielle and Michele also recently teamed up for the 16th straight year at the national Mentor Match, which pairs an adult with a junior shooter. The mother-daughter team can no longer compete in the event because Danielle, 20, is no longer considered a junior shooter.

Michele has coached the Newport Rifle Club junior team for more than 20 years. Fifteen former members of the program went on to compete in college and 16 have participated in the junior Olympics.

Members of the Lady Black Hawks small-bore rifle team, from left, Bobbi Vitito of Michigan, Michele Makucevich of Portsmouth, Ginger McLemore of New Mexico, Michelle Bohren of Michigan, Nancy Tomkins of Arizona and Danielle Makucevich of Portsmouth competed last month at the National Rifle Association National Championships in Bristol, Ind. The all-female small-bore rifle team won three events and broke two national records in the process.

Contributed photo

NRC Pistol Safety In The News

Seated from the left, Seth Bousquet, his mom, Samantha, and Taylor Brown and her mother, Angela Mandia, listen to Newport Rifle Club Chief Instructor Robin Kasckow talk about firearms safety.

MIDDLETOWN – Newport Rifle Club’s last Basic Pistol class until October was a first. It was the first time a parent and son or daughter have taken the class at the same time. Along with five others, Samantha Bousquet and her son Seth, 13, of North Smithfield and Angela Mandia and her daughter, Taylor Brown, of Portsmouth took the all-day class recently in the club’s new combined classroom and air-rifle range.

Basic Pistol is geared toward people with little or no experience with handguns. Among other things, the hands-on instruction covers firearm and range safety, pistol and ammunition knowledge, basic marksmanship, target scoring, pistol selection, pistol cleaning, safe storage and firearms transportation laws. For safety and individualized training, each student has his or her own one-on-one instructor for the live-fire portion of the course.

Newport Rifle Club offers Basic Pistol at least half a dozen times a year with several classes for women only. For information about Basic Pistol and other classes go to Newport Rifle Club Instruction.

Newport Rifle Club is the oldest continuously operating gun club in the US. It was founded in 1876 by W. Milton Farrow, one of the finest long-distance rifle shots in the world at the time.

The club usually has a waiting list for membership, which is capped at 700, but currently has a few openings. See Newport Rifle Club Membership for all the details.

Newport Rifle Club has a nine-port 100-yard outdoor range and an eight-port 50-foot indoor range with a HEPA filtration system for air purity. The club provides a wide range of safety, marksmanship and firearms-care training for youth and adults and offers a number of competitions within the club and throughout the state.

Some very good media attention for the NRC

Taking aim

It’s my first time shooting a gun at a real indoor range. I point the .22 semi-automatic at the target, a flimsy piece of paper depicting a shadow of a man. I try to shuffle my feet into the correct position, remember to still my breathing, and correctly aim the gun at the X on the target. I pull the trigger, but the gun still kicks back in my hand with
force. No such luck hitting the X.

I’m at the Newport Rifle Club, one of the oldest existing gun clubs in the country, founded in 1876. It’s a members-only club where one has to be vetted through a strict process to join. I had recently stopped in to the very popular ladies-only class, an all-day beginners shooting course for women, to examine the rise and prevalence of female shooters. Robin Kasckow, 66, an NRA training counselor and the club’s chief instructor, teaches the course. He had been teaching his students about gun safety for the majority of the day, but when I walked in, they were noisily firing off rounds and coming out of the range looking rushed with adrenaline.

“They instill such self-esteem in us in a one-day course, it’s tremendous,” a registered nurse remarked to me.

I noted that instructors did not shy away from the strong emphasis on safety. The club has regulations so strict that club privileges are automatically suspended if any rules are broken. Cameras are on all day and all night to monitor any funny behavior, which includes breaking the standard NRA rules: (1) Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, (2) Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, and (3) Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. This is a strong discrepancy to what you see in movies and TV.

The discipline of gun clubs contrasts with all the attention on gun violence with mass shootings in California, Oregon, Colorado and
Connecticut in recent years. Calls for more gun control measures only seem to send more people to gun dealers to buy firearms fearing their Second Amendment right to bear arms will disappear.

“All of us sitting on this side, we’re all thinking, we don’t need any more laws to make this safe!” Kasckow says. “You want to punish responsible individuals, but it’s not the gun.”

The female club members I met, ranging from ministers to nurses to ex-police officers, all seemed to share Kasckow’s view. Most of the women I talked to preferred to remain anonymous, what with guns being such a controversial subject in the media.

I did some shooting myself to get a feel for it, and also watched the happy shooters in the women’s class. The ladies were gleeful, not regretful, with one firing off a few rounds with a smile then saying, “The Beretta, now that is the one for me!”

Increasing gun sales and interest in target shooting is either frightening or empowering depending on your stance. More than 22,000
Rhode Island gun purchase background checks were made in 2015, according to the FBI. That’s an 8 percent increase over 2014 and a 129 percent increase over 2005.

And it wasn’t just men contributing to the rising trend in gun ownership. Seventy-four percent of gun retailers reported an increase in female customers in 2013 over 2012 in a study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and released last year. Women in the study cited the single most important reason they decided to purchase or own a gun as self-defense (26.2 percent) and defending their home (22 percent).

After the class, I decided to talk to a couple of women one-on-one. Heather, 36, and a mother of two, told me how guns piqued her interest even though she was raised in a household in which they were abhorred. Living alone with two kids, she keeps guns in her home but has been taught how to make them safe.

“They’re secured, put away, locked, and separated,” she said.

Although she does love the hobby of shooting, she has other reasons for it. After all the media attention and the focus on worldwide terrorism, she thought she needed another kind of protection. She has no qualms about teaching her kids about gun safety, and is slowly introducing her 7-year-old to rifles.

Upon being asked if she feels OK about keeping guns around kids, she said, “Yes. I actually feel safer with guns in the house.”

I also observed many married couples come in to the club to shoot together for sport. Beth Devlin is a member of the club, a consultant who is married with no kids. Her husband, who has had police training, introduced her to shooting, and she really took to it.

“It was the people I met along the way who really pulled me into this, and I say that in a really positive way. It changed my life, actually. It became something for me that is so much fun to do,” she said.

The picture one gets of guns is macho, masculine, very competitive and testosterone-driven, usually involving violence, hunting prey, defense, terrorism, and other negative connotations. But Devlin, who considers herself a feminist, says that’s not what she got out of learning to shoot:

“Women are becoming more involved in every aspect of society. If more women are purchasing cars, houses, and becoming the breadwinners, it makes sense they would be interested in this, too. Why not?”

I at least agreed with that line of reasoning. The next time I picked up the silver revolver at the Newport Rifle Club, it felt lighter and more natural. Having less trepidation, I was able to enjoy it more.

I fired off five rounds with ease, and hit one bullet in the center target. Bull’s-eye.

Posted in Features on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 4:30 pm.