STS maintains an innovative approach when it comes to working within our community, training, and protection. Brittany Paus, an active duty Air Force Recruiter and Military Police Officer, is a single mother that places a high priority on personal safety, physical strength, and situational awareness. We have been happy to work with her to enhance her skills and training.
Nick: Brittany where are you from?
Brittany: I lived the majority of my life in San Diego. My father was stationed out there when I was in second grade.
Nick: Living the California high life?
Brittany: Yea, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was.
Nick: So you went to high school there and grew up there?
Brittany: Yes, and joined the Air Force there.
Nick: In San Diego?
Brittany: Yes, San Diego MEPS.
Nick: What year was that?
Brittany: That was in 2003. I was 17 when I agreed to sign. I respected and understood the sacrifice of those I know who had served.
Nick: Why the Air Force?
Brittany: It was encouraged, quality of life. The Air Force wasn't my first pick. At the time the Air Force was the only branch that allowed females to be SERE instructors (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) and that's what I ended up wanting to do. I enjoy anything outdoors. I didn’t want a desk job. Unfortunately, I broke my foot and was retrained into finance and accounting, Comptroller. I did that for two years and hated it, it wasn't for me. On the positive side, I learned a lot about military budget and travel vouchers...
Nick: That was what you started with, SERE instructor training?
Brittany: Yes, I just wasn’t able to continue. I didn’t even get past Medina at Lackland. On a ruck, I broke it. This was right after basic training and, in hindsight, I probably should have tried again, but I went into finance and accounting. I was stationed at Seymour Johnson in North Carolina and, like I said, I didn’t enjoy it. So I cross trained into Security Forces, military police.
Nick: What’s the future with the Air Force?
Brittany: I enjoy it. I’ve been in for almost 12, I believe I’m going to go for 20. I’m not discounting other opportunities but it would have to be something that’s substantial. Obviously, I’m building towards retirement. I don’t want to start over but if something came up, I’d be open to it. It’s definitely changed since I initially swore in, but I still enjoy being in.
Nick: Did you grow up in a kind of gun-friendly environment?
Brittany: They were in the home, but we didn’t go out and shoot all the time. I shot my first gun when I was in my young teenager.
Nick: What were your thoughts?
Brittany: I loved it. I was hooked from the start, honestly. Definitely intimidated, had the jitters, and that takes a while to get rid of.
Nick: Did you realize (as a teen) that it was important to respect what that was, that it’s not a toy?
Brittany: Absolutely. Weapons safety was stressed. We weren’t allowed to go around the gun in the house. You never even thought about it.
Nick: How do you balance being a single mom and the grind of active duty?
Brittany: Okay. Very good question. This move has changed a lot, since it's just Connor and me right now, Dan is still in Illinois, but my plan is friends who become your family. Honestly, I’ve never been fortunate enough to live close to other family.
Nick: Same here. I get that. You’re on your own.
Brittany: So I choose my circle wisely, if that makes sense, but usually friends that I make are long lasting and trustworthy. It’s definitely challenging. I realize the sacrifice that Connor is making as my child because there’s a lot of things that I’ve missed in his childhood because of work. I’ve worked until 9 or 10 o’clock at night sometimes. Dan and I have both been TDY or deployed, we have to do whatever the job requires. It’s hard to balance but you have to remember when to turn it off at the same time.
Nick: What are your son’s thoughts on the tactical industry and firearms?
Brittany: Connor thinks it’s awesome. He just recently became really interested in this kind of thing. He asks a lot of questions about guns and weapons. He got his first crossbow for Christmas, so that’s where we’re starting. I would like to take him out within the next year and get him just a feel for the weapon itself. I think he’s of age and is mature enough, obviously with supervision. And he understands the importance of what that weapon can do and you know…
Nick: The key is the appropriate instruction and the appropriate instructor.
Nick: So outside of the Air Force, are you doing any type of training or instruction?
Brittany: I have taken a couple of individual courses. Weapons handling primarily with the handgun. I did that while I was in Texas for school. I haven’t yet. I do have some friends that work for a different company and they’re more than willing to help train me. They’re close to Ohio, so I’m going to reach out to them. I need to learn more, I’m aware that I have a lot to learn, but I’m completely receptive to it. I crave it almost, if that makes sense.
Nick: Are you wanting to look into doing competitive shooting?
Brittany: Yea definitely. I’ve watched 3-gun, I’ve been to 3-gun and that sort of thing. I understand it but that’s not the only thing I want to focus on. I definitely want to get into the more tactical application; I think it’s more practical.
Nick: Why’s that?
Brittany: Well I just mean, real scenarios, your target is not stagnant all the time. Someone is shooting back and they’re moving constantly. Not saying it can’t be incorporated into competitive shooting because it can, I just think that’s more important for where I would need to apply it or need to use it.
Nick: So with that, obviously you’re an advocate for gun safety because you started a long time ago.
Nick: What are your thoughts on concealed carry or women and concealed carry; that sort of thing?
Brittany: I think more women need to understand the importance of concealed carry. A lot of times in our society, women in general depend on someone else to come save them, or to get them out of a situation. That’s not my thought process; it hasn’t ever been.
Nick: What’s the reality of that?
Brittany: There isn’t one. Well it’s reactive. You pick up the phone and call 9-1-1 or you scream for help. Like look at the Kitty Genovese story itself. She screamed, she was stabbed 22 times. Her assailant left, parked his car, came back and no one did anything to help her. That’s a prime example of diffusion of responsibility, that somebody else will handle it; it’s pluralistic ignorance. I think it’s important for women to defend themselves. Anyone! But why are there so many more men that concealed carry than women? I have a lot of friends that are afraid or may be timid when it comes to weapons handling or touching a weapon or wanting to shoot because they feel like they don’t have a need for it. But my friend for instance, close friend of mine, they have young children, she’s never fired a gun in her life. She’s not interested in it and my point is, usually if something is going to happen, what if your husband is not there? What happens if during the day, she’s home with the children and something does happen?
Nick: Which that’s the highest percentage, when she’s alone, right?
Brittany: Yea. He’s not going to be there. How are you going to defend yourself? And the answer is, “Well I’ll call 9-1-1.” Well again, they’re reactive IF they come and what’s going to happen between the time you call and they get there? What are you going to do? So I think it’s extremely important for women to take a more active role in home defense and protecting themselves. Not just going to a range and shooting at a target. Raising your blood pressure, getting your adrenaline running. It goes back to muscle memory and knowing the weapon and how to fix malfunctions.
Nick: So do you think about, not only for yourself, but now you’re moving into a new place alone, single mom. How do you feel about that with your son in the home and if something happens and you’re not there? What’s your whole thought process behind that?
Brittany: I definitely want to get an alarm system, but I also think it’s more of a façade that makes people feel better. It's a deterrent, but a preventative.
Nick: You know what the best alarm system is?
Brittany: A dog.
Nick: Yep, A dog... We’ve already kind of talked about women getting involved with personal safety, but what are your thoughts on the current situation with women and personal safety and situational awareness.
Brittany: Ignorance is bliss, Right? My head is constantly on a swivel. If someone came in, what would I do? My mind is constantly in the process, especially when I have my son, Connor. I know where he’s at, he’s always in my peripheral. I don’t like sitting with my back to a door, I want to pick out the creeper who I think is a possible threat. When I go to the car, I’m constantly thinking how am I going to get in quickly. I’ll check out my vehicle. If there’s other vehicles around, especially when it’s dark. When I’m at a gas station, im not at the last pump furthest away from the register.
Nick: It amazes me how many women don’t think about that and are just in their phone. Heading to their car, head buried in their phone, their keys are not in their hand.
Brittany: Looking through their purse, looking through their grocery bags. My bags are already ready to go. That’s just how I’ve been. I’ve got my keys in hand. That’s how I am. Why would you not?
Nick: That’s the same thing we teach in personal protection. What is the most dangerous places for women? Parking lot, getting gas, at the bank at night. What do you see them all do? None of them are paying attention. It’s the worst. It’s good that you’ve already ID’d that and hopefully it will spread.
Brittany: Even just courses being offered. Just changing someone’s perspective. Like putting them in that situation. For example, there’s a course that we give in the Air Force. They put you in hotel, it’s part of the terrorism. While you’re in class, like the first day, they go into the hotel room and they’ll do reconnaissance on you. They’ll start looking in your trash, or they’ll look and see what you’ve got just in your drawers and then they come in and give you a report, like a one-on-one interview. It just opens people’s minds to...
Nick: ... How much personal information you have laying around, how easy it is for someone to track you down ...Do you think that it would be beneficial for women to be put into those scenarios and have them have to react.
Brittany: That’s my point. It’s a completely different perspective. Now you’re brain is processing and I think a lot of times people freeze or react impulsively. And if you haven’t trained yourself, what are you going to do?
Nick: It’s like we talked about with muscle memory. When your brain shuts off, what is your body going to do? It’s going to react to whatever you’ve been doing. So I think the situational stuff is perfect because it’s opens people’s eyes to stuff like, “Oh crap, this stuff is serious.” What would your advice be to a woman that was intimidated by firearms? What would your advice be for them to get involved in firearms and their personal safety and how to break that barrier?
Brittany: You just have to get over it. Everybody gets the jitters. I was intimidated, but it’s better to do something than nothing. My advice is to obviously find an instructor that you’re comfortable with or ask around. And I understand that some instructors can be intimidating. But maybe do a one-on-one course. Maybe explain to them from the get go. Just from even Air Force weapons training, a lot of times people are afraid to speak up and they go through it so quick that you’re not really retaining the information that’s being thrown at you. So you’re really not comfortable with the weapon system that you’re handling, but you’re too afraid to let an instructor know.
Nick: As a woman, how would you go about finding the appropriate instructor? There’s a lot of people out there? There’s a lot of whackos out there? A lot of YouTube videos that are bizarre as can be. Does background or certifications mean anything to you?
Brittany: Absolutely. Definitely. I mean honestly, don’t give somebody the benefit of the doubt just because they can put up a resume or build a decent website. Find out what their background is. I absolutely looked into STS before contacting you. And then we talked. I asked some questions too. I was very impressed and actually really comfortable. I think that is soooo important. You put YOU out there. And you can tell it’s nothing that’s enhanced or fluffed up even.
Nick: So the fundamentals of what we did for the rifle today, how was that for the pistol? Because typically the way I think it should be is there’s really not much difference. It’s just a bigger gun.
Brittany: That’s pretty much what it is. Like you said, a little more curve, watching your stance, leaning into it, defensive stance/fighting stance, same thing. And I wasn’t laughing at it, it was just me thinking like, “Why wasn’t I paying attention to this before?” I mean when I was on target, it FELT so much more comfortable and more aggressive to me.
Nick: And tiring.
Brittany: Yes, very much so.
Nick: It takes a really in-shape, strong person and breaks you down really quick. It’s all those little muscles.
Brittany: Yea, it’s muscles that you’re not usually using. Running scenarios in your home with either a trainer or setting it up yourself is beneficial.
Nick: Anything you'd like to add?
Brittany: Yes... Ladies, get over your fears, It goes back to muscle memory and practicing it. And if you have an instructor there, that’s something that you’re able to do. Just getting your mind to think in a different process. We’re so repetitive as creatures. We go to work the same route, we go home, we go in the door. Just thinking from a different perspective. I think that’s important.
Nick: You wake up where’s your gun.