Femme Fatale Finishing School

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive

I walked past the taxidermied deer and gave a slight nod to the man behind the counter coyly cleaning his firearm. The Black Wing Shooting Center in Delaware was hosting a meet-up of the Femme Fatale Finishing School. This night's class of six women was waiting in the back room. As I opened the door I saw them sitting at a table, eating quiche and talking mass weaponry secrets (I assumed, anyway). One look andI knew these dames was trouble.

The leader of the gang was McCort, Peg McCort, a long-locked brunette who harbors a hand-strike technique that could devastate the toughest thug. Her partner in kickass (he is her Krav Maga trainer) and Finishing School co-founder, Jason Holt, was also on the scene.

The two began Operation Femme Fatale Finishing School in January. They plan missions for women to master the ways of the femme fatale, those ladies in action movies who are the XX equivalents of James Bond.

The crew I joined was learning how to shoot handguns, but other lessons have included pole dancing, seduction, mixology and casino gambling. At a fall class at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, femme-fatales-in-training will learn professional race-car driving techniques and shoot airsoft guns out the windows as they speed by their targets.

All necessary skills for when undercover ops really shake down in the 614.

Some of the school's classes have prerequisites, and costs vary; next Thursday's Loaded Guns 2 costs $150 per participant.

The broads with whom I killed paper-target men were all over the spectrum of life experience - from a physical therapy student to moms picking their kids up in Hilliard after we finished our celebratory champagne and chocolate (the school's gastronomical symbol of having unlocked clearance to new femme fatale levels).

"This is all fun, but the real hope is that the sense of not being afraid translates into their real lives," McCort said. "The idea underlying everything is to not be afraid. Don't be intimidated. Possess an inner fierceness."

My inner fierceness did not appear until after shooting a .22 at a target 10 feet away. It was shockingly empowering to learn how much effort goes into actually shooting it. We also shot a 9mm pistol, a .38 revolver and a $3,000 .45 handgun, all under the watchful eyes of two Black Wing instructors.

The best part of the two-and-a-half-hour class was seeing the transformation of one femme fatale. She was afraid and crying when we first started but begged to shoot the .45 again by the time we were done.

Also, the fact that we all went to the bathroom together and talked honestly about our feelings afterward was awesome. Not all gender stereotypes are insulting. Femme fatales know this. One class and I knew these dames was special.

Photos by Tessa Berg

Femme Fatale Finishing School