She came. She learnt. She conquered.

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Miena Visser

This woman is taking on the boys as one of only a handful of female firearm instructors in South Africa.

Miena Visser refused to be a victim. When violent strikes rocked the Velddrif-based Gallo Group mussel processing factory that she and her husband Schalk own and run, she realised that gun training, and more specifically self-defence training, was essential.

Like many other firearm owners, she initially thought that it was a matter of point-and-shoot after she bought her gun and passed the competency test. Locked in a safe for 15 years, when she took it out, she was gripped by fear and helplessness.

“I just didn’t know how to go about using it. As factory manager, I have to open the doors in the early morning darkness and with the strike’s resultant intimidation, I was paralysed with fear. That’s when I decided enough was enough. My next step was enrolling at Marksman’s Nest shooting range without further ado.”

In a two-year journey, she completed all the skills builder courses. In addition, she passed the three levels of self-defence training, the anti-hijacking course, firearms for business purposes, as well as the range officer course. Finally, on 18 August this year, Miena earned her stripes as firearm instructor with aplomb.

“I’ve been helping out as range officer at both the Malmesbury and Velddrif shooting ranges and I must say, it’s right up my alley.”

With crime and gender-based violence on the increase, she sees women wanting to be able to defend themselves as the next big thing. She said the number one reason women purchased guns was for personal protection and empowerment.

“What’s especially interesting is that most of the women visiting the range face the same problems I did initially: fear, intimidation, and not knowing where to start. Learning from a female instructor somehow eases the intimidation factor.”

Miena, who holds a BSc in mathematics from the University of Pretoria, explained that she’d been interested in teaching all her life, but the opportunity never presented itself. “When I was about to embark on a teacher’s diploma course, my husband was transferred to Italy as embassy attaché. So, bye-bye teaching.

“Fortunately, as a firearm instructor, I can now realise my teaching dream. What’s more, I can indulge my passion for shooting and self-defence.” And right now, she’s ready to sock it to the world, plus make a difference in the lives of others who crave empowerment.

Between managing the mussel factory and firearm instruction on the two ranges, Miena pretty much has her hands full. But hydroponic gardening after hours is her idyll. “I’m all for self-sufficiency – the pretty pastoral with free-roaming chickens, fruit trees and a veg garden.”

That said, life simply wouldn’t be complete without family get-togethers, as well as walks with 24/7 sidekick, Rottweiler Duke. And to balance the quotidian busyness, she and hubby often up and leave over weekends for the dreamy bliss of Tietiesbaai in their camper van.

FAST FACTS
To relax, I read
Pet place on the West Coast is Tietiesbaai
Best restaurant is Charlie’s Brewhouse in Port Owen
I love eating apple tart and all things sweet
My signature drink is gin
On TV I enjoy watching NCIS and CSI