Mar. 20--Teri Goodall and Patty Fowler retired from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in 2007 -- but the two are still working to keep residents safe. Goodall and Fowler are the founders and operators of Fighting Chance for Women, which they started last fall to offer affordable self-defense classes for women. They have 52 years of law enforcement experience between the two of them. Goodall was Sheriff Terry Maketa's undersheriff when she retired; Fowler was a deputy sheriff. Question: What made you decide to start up Fighting Chance for Women? Fowler: We felt there was a need for self-defense instruction for women because you've got your Krav Maga where it's weeks on end, you've got judo, stuff like that. But what we wanted was something that's quick, easy.
Goodall: Patty and I have always worked well together. We worked together off and on throughout our years at the sheriff's office, and we did some volunteer kind of stuff. I would take Patty with me, usually these are 30-minute or hourlong presentations, and we had several people who said, "If you guys would do this and start a business with this, I know we would come and get more training." Q: Was this also a chance for you to get out of the house and make a bit of money?
Fowler: Though I'm retired, I work part-time at the Whist-ling Pines Gun Club, teaching people how to shoot. So this was just for mad money for vacation. Goodall: Mine was pretty much vacation money. I was busy enough already. There are not enough hours in the day, even being retired. The sheriff's office is very regimented. You always had to bid for vacations, we worked every holiday, we worked weekends for years. So if I was going to work after retirement, it was going to be on my own schedule. Q: What's been the biggest challenge in starting this? Goodall: We're not salespeople and we're not businesspeople. Neither one of us has business cards. We have never sold anything in our lives, so it's kind of hard for us to say 'You need to come to our class.' Q: How does the class work? Goodall: It's a three-hour class, probably two hours of lecture and an hour of hands-on. That's what Patty and I saw the lack of. You could go to, say, Neighborhood Watch and get the lecture on how to make your house safe, but they didn't give you hands-on, or vice versa. So we tried to combine it into one class. Q: Where do you normally have classes? Goodall: The gun club where Patty works has a classroom that we use. We've had some classes down at Fountain Library and a couple at the East Library. We don't have a storefront; we can't afford that. Q: And you also do Fighting Chance for Women parties in people's homes? Your version of a Tupperware party? Fowler: It works really well. We've had a couple of them, and they'll have their friends over for snacks and stuff like that. Then we do our presentation, then the hands-on part. They also get a defensive tool to use as part of our class (such as a "kitty cat keychain" with sharp edges to repeal an attacker.) Q: If women learn just one thing from your class, what would you want it to be? Goodall: We ask that question on our evaluation sheet, "What do you remember most about class?" And I think the thing that gets written down most is be rude, make a lot of noise. You know, we've been raised to be polite and help others and stuff, and that's exactly how Ted Bundy killed all those women. We live in a society now where it is time to be rude. And if somebody approaches you, whether it's a homeless guy, or somebody, with "I need $5 for gasoline," you respond, "Stop, I've got nothing for you, back off." Use your outdoor voice, be firm, be authoritative, and get them away from you. Fowler: We go over situational awareness. Like when you're coming out of The Citadel or you're coming out of Wal-Mart, be aware, be looking. Look people in the eye, don't be looking down at the ground. We also teach what not to do. Nowadays, you see people with the iPods with the earphones in their ears. If you've got those in your ears, you're not going to hear anybody coming up from behind you. Q: What do you teach in the hands-on part? Fowler: We teach people that if you're being attacked, they're there to hurt you or kill you, and all bets are off. What we teach is not to stay there and kick the person's butt who's attacking you, but to break away and get out of there.
-- Questions and answers were edited for brevity and clarity. Contact the writer at 636-0272. DETAILS --Cost for the three-hour Fighting Chance for Women class is $35. The next class is 2 p.m. Saturday, March, 27, at the East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd. For more information, or to register, go to www.fightingchance forwomen.com.
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