CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Kristi Whisner is a mom, a teacher and a gun owner.
Take one of her gun safety classes and you will learn as much about situations in which you shouldn't use your gun as you will how to safely use it.
She has taken numerous instructor certification classes through the National Rifle Association - with names like Personal Protection in the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home, along with basic pistol safety, firearm safety and a class called Refuse To Be a Victim.
Yet Whisner emphasizes that she acquired her weapons first and foremost to use them in her hobbies, skeet and target shooting. And if faced with a dangerous situation, she said the first thing she would do would be to seek a safe escape. That's a lesson taught time and again in gun safety classes.
About eight years ago, a friend introduced her to skeet shooting, the sport where you use a shotgun to try to break clay disks that are flung into the air.
"When you're involved with it, you're fully involved. It was such a getaway for me; I just really loved it," Whisner said.
The next thing she knew she was buying a 20-gauge shotgun from a friend and joining a skeet shooting club in Winfield.
The club lost its lease on the property, and there was no other club close by at the time, so Whisner turned next to target shooting and got a handgun.
"I found it was the same thing," she said of the appeal. "It was totally addicting."
Whisner, 57, was as unlikely a person as there ever was to take up shooting as a hobby. The native of South Charleston is a former Miss West Virginia who teaches music at John Adams Middle School. She did not grow up with guns in her home or even any close relatives who had guns or hunted.
Once she started the hobby, Whisner couldn't turn off her teacher side.
"If you're that interested, you want to know everything about it," she said. Then a shooting buddy suggested she should become certified to teach gun safety.
"That put a bug in my ear," she said. "And that almost became a new hobby, going to classes."
Whisner graduated from basic gun safety to classes taught by SWAT experts in which she learned tactical maneuvers. It all fascinated her.
She recently opened a new business, Simply Safe Group LLC, and began teaching classes, often to folks with no gun experience.
"A lot of people come to me and have absolutely no idea how to use a gun," she said. "You have some people who (have guns) out of fear, but they don't know how to use them."