by Sheila Rockwell
Bree Michael Warner is a bit of a chameleon. Petite, brunette, classically beautiful, and smart, with a dual degree from the acclaimed University of Southern California. She’s a successful actress, with roles ranging from primetime television sitcoms to cable networks programs to feature films, as well as stage experience. She’s currently a host on GunTV, which brings us to her other passion–guns. As the owner/founder of TactiGal, Bree blogs and creates instructional videos on safe firearm practices. She’s a certified pistol instructor, and even an auxiliary police officer. In fact, we can’t think of much that this powerhouse can’t do, and do well, at that. Read on to learn more about Bree!
Tell us about your first experience with firearms, and how your love for guns grew from that point forward…
My absolute very first experience with firearms is an excellent place to start as it showed me the
value of real training. I had gone to an indoor range in my early 20’s with a guy I’d been seeing. Knowing little to nothing about firearms, I mistakenly presumed that he did simply because he had gone before. Luckily, nothing tragic happened, but I can think back and remember how ‘unsafe’ we probably were. There was no muzzle awareness, no understanding of proper grip or how to safely lock the slide to the back and remove the magazine when finished. I had gone shooting a couple of times since, but never once had a real understanding or instruction on what I was doing. It wasn’t until almost 3 years ago that I went with my current boyfriend who is both a police officer, as well as firearms instructor. This time, shooting a firearm came with real knowledge and a world of difference. I’m sure he thought it would become a fleeting interest, but 3 years later that interest not only stuck, it grew and grew. My advocacy for training came from realizing the value and the sense of empowerment when one not only has the tool but also strives to be better than their best day.
You’re a successful actress on both screen and stage—do you
prefer (or seek out) roles that incorporate usage of firearms or was it vice-versa—were you sought after for particular roles because of your knowledge/expertise in firearms? How has this impacted your career as an actress?
It’s funny because it’s almost as if the firearms ‘roles’ found me (or at the very least I hadn’t started out looking for them but they sort of manifested themselves as if this was the plan all along). Truth be told, there weren’t a lot of roles like that available back then for women but, over time, I’ve seen the industry embrace strong female characters that encapsulate both beauty and brawn. I entered full speed into ‘firearms training’ as a means to better prepare myself for potential roles, never expecting to love it so much independent of my acting world. The more my peers saw me getting involved in the gun world, the more opportunities began presenting themselves. It was a great lesson of do what you love, and be truthful to who you are. Eventually the right projects and the right connections will present themselves. I’ve always loved the saying “success is preparedness met with opportunity”. It’s a great reason to start today on whatever path you feel drawn to, no matter what others may think. Being able to combine all these worlds professionally has been such a blessing. I hope to continue finding ways to bridge my passion for acting and for shooting.
Tell me about TactiGal—why did you decide to start the site, and
what do you hope to accomplish through it?
About 2 years into a fairly rigorous training regimen, I found a deficit in the firearms industry when it came to the value of the female shooter. Either they weren’t taken seriously or were described as nothing more than “tomboys” who hunt and only wear camouflage. I never identified with that. I was a girl, never raised around guns, that loved fashion magazines just as much as I loved the latest issue of RECOIL.
When it came to training, I found myself to be the rare bird in most classes filled largely with men. My 5’2” frame didn’t help bolster my confidence, but my shooting skills did. I would meet so many women who had a similar interest in firearms but didn’t have a community where they were encouraged and supported. From there TactiGal was birthed. My goal with the website and the newly-launched training sessions is to help other women nurture their love of firearms and interests in better defending themselves without needing to abandon their feminine sensibilities. My tagline, “I know how intimidating the industry can be for women. Your experience on the range shouldn’t be!” Is exactly what I hope to achieve with TactiGal and a way to encourage other women to feel empowered in the process.
As a woman in the traditionally male-dominated shooting industry,
how do you work to bridge the gender gap? Have you experienced any bias on the range from male shooters? If so, what advice would you give to other ladies in regards to handling gender bias and/or pushing through the stigma of a “GunGirl” image?
The wonderful thing is that there are more and more well-respected female shooters coming to the forefront and it seems as though the industry is taking notice. That’s great when it comes to promoting others to do the same, but I would say there is still some bias happening in the industry. I have met a number of women who’ve been told by gun store owners “they don’t need a gun” or “it will be too much for you to handle”. I remember when I purchased my 1911 (lovingly named ‘Margaret’), that the gentleman doing my paperwork at the permit office said to me, “Oh a .45–that’s got a kick, you sure you’re going to be ok with that? Be careful.” Mind you, at this point I had quite successfully shot belt-fed machine guns and other various firearms that packed far more punch. Nevertheless, I just politely smiled and nodded my head. I didn’t need to prove anything, but it really inspired me to find other like-minded women and help redefine the female shooter. It’s also why I sought to become a certified instructor myself, so that I am able to design classes that specifically cater to women. In general, training can be inherently intimidating to many people. For women, especially new shooters, training with a male majority can feel as though all eyes are on you, as if you are less capable. And sometimes, training with significant others can present its own issues with relationship dynamics creating friction. You have to see what works best for you. Everyone has a different way of learning. I absolutely think there is value in going outside your comfort zone, but there is also nothing wrong with progressing at your own pace in a manner that makes you feel most comfortable and empowered. The more you progress, the more you will seek out classes that will challenge you even more. My hope is to flood YouTube with inspiring videos of my female students being badass vs. just sexually objectified accessories of a gun. No more videos of girls knocking themselves in the face with the stock of the shotgun while her boyfriend laughs instead of properly showing her how to grip and position the gun. I hope to show that women who embrace the fundamentals of shooting and become proficient at it are sexy by virtue of their own abilities and confidence. More importantly, they’re better prepared to defend themselves, and that is ultimately the goal.
You mention your Faith in God a good bit on your website and social
media. Tell us how your Faith has impacted your life, and what role it
plays in everyday decisions for you…
I try to keep GOD at the absolute center of every larger focus I may have. He has done an incredible job helping me understand HIS purpose for my life. Something that I’m very open about is that I am a widow. My husband passed away suddenly just as we were actively trying to start a family. In an instant, there was very large hole in my world. It was a major turning point that made me reevaluate everything I thought I knew. We had our whole world mapped out, planning our lives to the minute, only to see it come to a screeching halt. I struggled to figure out who I was in the absence of him, but knew that he would want me to continue forward. It was then that I realized true vulnerability, going from being part of a partnership to being on my own in the midst of emotional turmoil. Suddenly, I had to find the strength to stand on my own two feet, to be my own cheerleader, to be my own motivator. Then I awoke one day and realized that God had always been right by my side doing all of that for me. I didn’t have to work so hard at trying to do and be everything. So I trusted Him completely with what was to come. My future was His to write. And write He did. I eventually met my boyfriend and slowly began to heal. I discovered passions within that I never knew existed, and realized that God can be quite creative when we get out of His way.
What advice would you give to a lady that is interested in learning
to shoot, but doesn’t know how/where to get started?
First thing I would say is to investigate your local state laws, and find out what’s involved in getting your firearms permit. Every state is different and with the influx of new applicants, the process can take upwards of 6-12 months to complete. Better to get a jump on it sooner than later. The next step is to determine the type, make and model of firearm you are most comfortable shooting. Depending on the state you live in, look for ranges where you may rent various guns to test fire with one of their instructors. What you’re mainly looking for at this point is how the gun fits in your hand. I tell many women finding your first firearm is like finding a great pair of jeans. We all know about the fit of jeans. Each style is slightly different as is the fit. The other thing to be mindful of is whether this will be for home defense or for carry. The latter will need to be concealable where as the former gives you more latitude in options. A good rule of thumb is that you want a gun with which you will enjoy training. Most classes require about 200-250 rounds of ammunition at a minimum. The only way you will become more accurate and more comfortable is by training. A 5 round revolver with a heavy trigger and crude sights may not be your best friend at the end of a long and mentally draining training day. There are a lot of fantastic semi-auto pistols out there that are easy to maintain, easy to learn, and are consistently accurate. Once you’ve acquired your permit and your firearm, I suggest checking the local ranges. Many instructors will advertise there. Another worthwhile organization to look into is the Well Armed Woman. They have local chapters all over and sometimes can also provide further information on classes and resources in the area. Any readers that are located in New York and Connecticut and are interested in training can reach me via my website www.tactigalinc.com if they would like information on classes being held in 2017. I can also be reached there for anyone having questions about getting started!
Do you CC, and if so, how/where/(why this item/choice) do you
I have a Sig Sauer P938 which I absolutely love as a concealed carry. Even though it’s a very small handgun it’s still chambered in 9mm with an overall length under 6 inches. My small frame makes it a challenge to find a firearm that works for me as a CCW and this has been the perfect fit. I usually use it with a Can Can Concealment hip hugger holster, and have an extra magazine either in the holster or in a pocket, wardrobe dependent. This combo is great for me both in the summer and winter months. Beyond being a comfortable carry gun, it has been consistently accurate, which is the most important factor to consider.
What’s next for you?
On the acting front I’ve just completed filming on the feature film Eleanor and a television pilot called Wholly Broken. Both are currently in post-production and due to come out sometime next year. In my firearms world I’m launching a training program to coincide with my blog and hoping to expand the TactiGal brand in other related ventures. I’ll be attending SHOT Show 2017 and very much looking forward to continuing to build industry connections and hopefully meet more fellow female shooters!
What else would you like our readers to know about you?
One of my biggest goals is to get on the show “Blue Bloods”. I love the series, the writing, and think it would seriously be a perfect combination of all my worlds. In the end GOD is writing my story but if I could chime in… that would be a definite wishlist item!
LIGHTNING ROUND QUESTIONS:
- Dream Gun to own? -IWI X95 Tavor in a Battleworn Cerakote or Alpine White
- Spa or Campground? – Spa
- Casual or Dressy?- Hmmm… that’s a hard one. Probably in the middle as Dressy Casual
- Rifle, Pistol, or Shotgun?- Pistol
- Favorite Food?- Chocolate
- Favorite Drink?- Starbucks Dark Roast or Malbec depending on the time of day.
- Favorite Designer? – Alexander McQueen
- Mountains or Beach?- Beach
- Cats or Dogs?- Cats
- Hunting or Fishing?-Fishing
- Favorite Vacation Spot?- Bruge, Belgium
- Makeup or No Makeup? – No makeup
- Early Bird or Night Owl?- Early Bird
- Name one beauty item that you cannot go without: Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Smoothing eye mask
- If you had to run, and could only take one gun with you, which one would it be? – Glock 43
- Complete this sentence: If you were to look in my Range Bag, you would be sure to find: Smith Optics Eyepro, Peltor Comtac III Ear pro, dummy rounds, Maglula pistol mag loader and SKD Tactical Charlie Gloves for women (LOVE).