My Sister’s Keeper Defense is a Black owned firearm instruction business owned by Marchelle “Tig” Davis. She is on a mission to teach a million women how to defend themselves with firearms.
We caught up with her to find out more about her business and the state of Black gun ownership.
What inspired you to start a firearm instruction business?
In 2015 I started working at a gun range in Atlanta after leaving an abusive relationship. I realized how important self-defense was for my healing process to begin. I had to regain my sense of safety.
While working at the range I met hundreds of women; some were survivors, others just wanted to learn how to use a firearm. I decided to start a woman focused firearm instruction company to provide quality training for these women.
Why is it important to you to instruct Black women in particular?
I make a point to specifically encourage Black women to attend firearms classes because we’re statistically more likely to be attacked or abused. When you think of gun owners, you tend to envision non-black males. I wanted to make sure black women knew that gun ownership was for us too.
What does it take to build a successful business in this industry? What strategies have you used?
It takes consistency and determination to build a successful business. You also can’t be afraid to fail or take calculated risks. I focus heavily on social media marketing to promote my brand. I also network and create opportunities to meet other like-minded instructors.
I often ask myself, “What’s missing in the gun industry and how can I create that”. Everything you need to know about running a business is on the internet. I constantly watch business related videos, read blogs and study other businesses. Think about the last great business experience you had and ask yourself what made it great. Replicate that.
How has interest in firearm training changed from the last few years to currently?
I’ve seen a steady increase in people seeking firearms training. Americans are more afraid for their safety and realize no one is obligated to help them. I think the beginning of the pandemic really showed people how vulnerable they are. When I started my company in 2016, gun ownership was more taboo and seen as an ‘extremist’ hobby. Now, I see men, women, and children of all ages embracing responsible gun ownership.
Even though there is more interest in gun ownership, there is still hesitancy to learn how to use a firearm. Why is that?
Yes, I definitely still see hesitancy and I think it’s ok. Everyone isn’t mentally, emotionally, or spiritually prepared for the responsibility of becoming a gun owner. There’s also a lot of misinformation and stereotypes out there about gun ownership. I work to replace myth with truth without being disrespectful about people’s beliefs.
Do you feel firearm education can play a role in the reduction of violence against Black women?
Yes, I think so and “education” would be the operative word. Simply owning a firearm does not make anyone safer. Being a gun owner is a lifestyle change that requires consistent firearm training, a mindset change, Stop The Bleed classes, situational awareness training, wardrobe changes, and budgeting.
I fear women are buying firearms because they make them “feel” safer but not seeking out the training necessary to be responsible. I tell my students they should practice at the range at least twice per month with a certified instructor. A partner or family member is not the same as a certified instructor.
Gun owners also need to become subject matter experts on their firearms. Do a self-assessment and ask yourself if you’re ready for this kind of commitment. If not, then gun ownership might not be for you but there are several other ways to defend yourself. You can save your own life if you are both armed and educated.