by Lori Sanner
Former TWAW Illinois State

The Well Armed Woman (TWAW) started in January of 2012.  Founded by Carrie Lightfoot of Scottsdale, AZ, the group serves  as a comprehensive resource for women shooters.  

Right away, it filled a hunger from women for a place where women could network, ask questions, seek advice,  practice and grow their shooting skills with other ladies.  To serve that demand, TWAW began organizing shooting chapters in January 2013 and the group has grown rapidly from there.  

Illinois saw its first chapter in February 2013.  Since then, the organization has expanded to 23 chapters spread all over the state.  Our growth proved so phenomenal that Illinois won the award at the National Leadership Conference in Provo, Utah last October for the state with the most TWAW chapters!  


The Land of Lincoln now has around six hundred members ranging in age from 21 to well into their 80’s.  What’s more, we continue to grow.  

Nationally the organization now claims more than 370 chapters and nearly 11,000 members.

TWAW chapter leaders are committed, knowledgeable volunteers, most of whom hold instructor certifications from either the National Rifle Association or the US Concealed Carry Association.  

The chapter leaders usually host a monthly meeting (or two) which includes an hour of education and at least an hour of range time.  The education typically covers self-defense related topics or firearms.  In addition to all the firearms-specific topics, past sessions have included non-gun self defense,  situational awareness, conflict avoidance, noise-induced hearing loss, escaping from a trunk & zip ties (rope and duct tape), home protection plans, first aid, and far too many others to list.  

twaw logo

Quite often the education portion of the meeting features a guest instructor or speaker.  After the meeting, it’s off to the range for an hour of instruction, or maybe a friendly competition in an easy-going environment lead by female instructors.  

Over the last five-plus years, our chapter leaders have watched many eager ladies who had previously never handled a firearm grow into confident, educated and safe shooters.   And well armed women.

Not only do our leaders and members participate in monthly meetings and shooting practice, they enroll in additional classes, and attend state and regional special events.  They also serve to introduce TWAW to others, while others compete in leagues and other competitions, giving media interviews, organizing community activities and fundraisers along with making new friendships.  Some have even pursued new jobs and careers in the firearms field!


$50 covers the annual membership for The Well Armed Women  for ladies 21 or older who are legally allowed to own a firearm in Illinois.  Additional range fees usually apply.  

The perks of membership include a TWAW hat, gun basics DVD, local and national discounts plus a 10% discount at TWAW online store, and of course 11 or 12 monthly meetings a year with certified instructors.

First time visitors may attend one free meeting.  Please visit the website, TWAWshootingchapters.org for a list of all Illinois chapter’s meeting times and locations, and a link to join.  

Additionally, Guns Save Life posts a list of locations and meeting dates and times on page 22 in each issue of GunNews.  We thank Guns Save Life for their long and generous support!

Ladies, do you have an interest in guns or self-defense?  Come out and join us for a welcoming, nurturing environment to learn more.  

Also, we are always seeking new leaders, and would love to start some new chapters in the western and southern parts of the state.  Ladies interested in participating or becoming a leader should contact our state leaders at twaw.illinois@gmail.com.


Chicago Western Suburbs IL

bolingbrook, Illinois

Leader: Melanie HertelJennifer DeVittoMaria BrunoElaine Campo-OplanicCynthia SobusKelly LestinaKatherine Johnson






Kankakee County IL

Bonfield, Illinois

Leader: Melanie HertelJennifer DeVittoTheresa EmanuelsonTina GibbsKatherine JohnsonMandi Ehler






McHenry County, IL

Crystal Lake, Illinois

Leader: Melanie HertelJennifer DeVittoTonya FranklinCheryl MostowskiLee Anne RiouxKatherine Johnson