By LOIS KINDLE
Candace Calderon, a recently retired FBI special agent, believes people who own a gun, especially women, should know how to properly use it and be comfortable doing so. After spending 18 of her 21 years with the bureau as a firearms instructor, she founded Triple C Strategies to use her experience, knowledge and skills to teach others to handle a gun confidently and competently.
“I support the 2nd Amendment, and with that privilege comes immense responsibility”
Calderon, 53, is dead serious about her mission.
“Finding yourself in a position where you fear for your own safety is not the time to think, ‘I should have prepared for this,’” she said. “Yet for many women, these are the very moments that trigger them to think about their personal safety for the first time.”
Since she retired from federal service, Calderon has spoken with many women who have concerns about their personal safety and want to do something to allay them, but they fail to follow through for several reasons. Some can’t find an instructor they can relate to or click with, some find it difficult to sift through tons of information online they don’t understand and others find very little information that speaks directly to the specific needs and concerns of women.
“I want to demystify guns. They’re not only for men,” Calderon said. “I’ve had the absolute best training in the world, and I want to use the opportunity I was given to share it with others. Using a firearm is not rocket science. If I can do it, anyone can.”
Calderon’s lifelong friend, Cyndi Ivory, and her mother, Anne Wade Davis, recently took the Triple C Strategies basic pistol course together. It was a birthday gift Davis bought for her daughter, and both women thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“Candace’s instruction was superlative,” Ivory said. “Our class of all women included a lot of cross talk and classroom instruction before going outside. It was a great experience.”
Davis, broker of Sun City Center Homes and longtime Ruskin resident, agreed.
“Candace is like my other daughter,” she said. “She’s gifted, funny and talented. Her basic pistol class was the second gun class I’ve taken, and I learned I knew nothing (from the first). She’s very much into safety and making a woman feel comfortable and confident she can do what she needs to do.”
Calderon, also a private investigator, is state certified and has a Class K firearms instructor’s license. Additionally, she is certified by the NRA and has the qualifications to certify and re-qualify security personnel with D or G licenses.
The Apollo Beach resident teaches her classes at Gun Craft’s outdoor shooting range, 2102 24th St. SE, Ruskin.
“It’s less intimidating, less stressful and gives me the opportunity to be much more creative with my training,” she said. “Gun Craft has been very welcoming, nothing but supportive.
The duration of training depends on the type of class participants sign up for. Even in a group, each person gets one-on-one instruction, and she has guns available for those who don’t own one. Calderon is constantly updating the kind of classes she offers, based on what people want. The following are currently available:
a six-hour, women-only, co-ed or private basic pistol course that includes classroom instruction and live fire training; results include a training certificate that can be submitted to obtain a concealed carry license (CCW)
two- or three-hour, concealed carry certification for groups of intermediate shooters who are looking to carry their firearms on or off the body regularly
two-hour, home defense class in the privacy of one’s home; includes “trigger time” with laser and Airsoft pistols only, no live fire.
a two-hour, group refresher course for gun owners with some experience, featuring a review of basic fundamentals and a larger focus on execution, includes “trigger time” on laser and Airsoft pistols, plus live fire.
two-hour private lessons, which are based on the client’s individual goals.
“I’m committed to creating a space where women can come to learn how to become more self-reliant and develop the mindset, skills and confidence to handle a firearm safely,” she said. “Along the way, we’ll be sharing stories, discussing issues specific to women and having a “blast” to boot, pun intended.”
Triple C Strategies has scheduled three basic pistol courses during the month of May: Tuesday, May 4, women-only; Saturday, May 15, women-only; Saturday, May 22, both men and women. All will take place at Gun Craft from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. As always, the $150 cost includes a $30 range fee, $15 NRA handbook and use of a firearm and ammunition. Participants are welcome to bring their own pistols.