From day one, Jen Blake has been accustomed to all things firearms. Growing up around avid shooters, Jen adopted her passion for educating others, especially women, on the importance of learning to shoot a firearm. Aside from instructing, Jen is a decorated competitive shooter who Norma is proud to call a partner.
Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I am from a very small town in southern Ohio, called Richmond Dale – a rural area nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. My grandparents on both sides of my family moved here in the 1950s and they’re still here. Now their great grandchildren are being raised here too. Growing up in the country and surrounded by hills, most people can walk outside and target shoot or sight in their guns for hunting season. I’ve always said, “Where I come from, when you hear gun shots it means someone’s having more fun than you!”
Q: When and how did you first hear about Norma?
A: Years ago, teaching Ohio Concealed Carry courses I would always end up with buckets full of spent casings at my range. I learned to polish it and began making jewelry with the shiny brass. Then I would use that money to fund my own ammo purchases. I was contacted by a guy to make some special earrings with his own brass. He wanted the cases stamped with Norma for his wife named Norma!
Q: When did you become interested in shooting and why?
A: I grew up hunting deer, squirrel, and turkey with my dad and grandmother. They were incredible hunters who would travel to Alaska periodically for big game like caribou, bear, and salmon fishing, elk in Colorado and New Mexico. Later when concealed carry permits became available we all took our twelve hour class together and inside our packets was a pamphlet about the NRA needing female instructors. I thought to myself, “Wow! I’d love to talk about guns all day and teach others to shoot!” I started taking every training course I could and began teaching my own concealed carry weapon courses. That progressed to being the first firearms instructor for Shoot Like A Girl and traveling the country with their mobile shooting simulator to Cabelas grand opening celebrations, Deer & Turkey expos, other events where we would invite women into the trailer and teach them the basic fundamentals on a pistol, rifle, and compound bow for free. Our goal was to grow the number of women in shooting sports, and giving them the confidence that they could do it. Finally, I met the match director for the first ever ladies only major 3Gun match and she invited me to fly down to Conyers, Georgia where they would have loaner guns for women who didn’t have all the equipment. I’d never attended anything like that, and at times questioned, “This is crazy, what am I even doing here?” But I flew down with my own pistol, borrowed the rifle and shotgun, and had a blast (pun intended). After it finished, I knew I HAD to do it again. I came home and the first thing I did was put an AR-15 on layaway at Walmart (back when you could do that, lol) and each paycheck went toward acquiring more equipment like mag pouches, sling, and shotshell caddies.
Q: What is your favorite Norma product and why?
A: The Norma Golden Target Match .223 REM 69 grain hollow point! The heavier bullet helps me reach those targets sometimes out to 600 more yards!
Q: What advice would you give to an anxious new shooter or someone interested in learning to shoot a firearm?
A: Sign up for an entry level class from a reputable range or instructor. Friends and family sometimes aren’t the best teachers. My family were big hunters and firearm enthusiasts but as I started taking more classes, I learned a lot of the ways we did things weren’t ultra safe. I also learned that while I could hit the target, there was still a lot that I didn’t know.
Q: What are 3 fun facts about you outside of shooting that you want people to know about you?
A: 1) In summer, I own and operate a kayaking rental business on Salt Creek where I haul people and kayaks upstream and then float back to their vehicles. 2) I love to travel and a few years ago on a family trip to Royal Gorge, Colorado, my 75 year old grandfather and myself rode the highest zipline in North America at 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River! 3) A bucket list life goal of mine is to apprentice and become a licensed Falconer and train birds of prey to hunt.
Q: What aspect of shooting sports are you most passionate about sharing with your audience?
A: There’s something for everyone! There are so many disciplines to choose from like the very physical 3Gun, to dressing up and shooting cowboy action, riding in a golf cart to stations shooting sporting clays, to standing in one spot for rimfire or centerfire steel challenge! Shooting is a sport you can do your entire life, and with the entire family. With hunting you get time in nature, and if you’re successful sometimes you get the satisfaction of putting food on the table for your family.