Alex Vonhindenfalken has a firm belief that confident, strong, capable women can do anything. She’s helping women do that every day with her company, Falken Firearms Training. But, not only is Alex NRA certified but she is also an USMC veteran, where she specialized in mechanics and marksmanship. I think she definitely checks the boxes on being a strong, bad ass woman for others to look up to.
Don’t take my word for it, find out more about Alex in my interview below!
You joined the Marine Corps early on in your teens – What inspired you to make the decision? How has that experience shaped the woman are you today?
I was in Marine Corps JROTC for 4 years leading up to the decision to join. I felt like I wasn’t ready to make a decision on what college to go to, what major to choose or if I wanted to get married early. I also had no money to jump into any of those lifestyles. I already knew so much about the Corps from JROTC and everyone around me told me that I was definitely tough enough to be a Marine, so I took the leap of faith, and boy was it a leap!
Were firearms and shooting a part of your life growing up or was that something the Marine Corps introduced you to?
No, I didn’t really know or handle firearms too much when I was growing up, my dad had few and taught me the basics but I was more interested in books and boys. It wasn’t until I tried out for the air rifle team in high school (JROTC) that I really learned how to shoot.
When I joined the Marines I went in with an open MOS (job) under the mechanical option, meaning that after some testing, they determined that I was best at mechanics. I didn’t choose the armorer life, it chose me haha. The unit that I was stationed with was understaffed so I offered to go through the training to become a marksmanship instructor as a secondary MOS, which is where I got my real training. Also, after boot camp, every Marine goes through some sort of combat training which lasts at least an entire month.
Tell me about Falken Firearms Training – What inspired you to start your business?
I really do enjoy teaching people how to shoot (women are just more receptive than men, so I like teaching women more) and I am good at it. I also want women to realize that they don’t have to live in the “victim” mentality. Carrying a gun and knowing how to use it can do wonders to your self-confidence. Especially when you are in a seedy part of town, or just going about your day. My inspiration came from everyone around me telling me I am so good at it that I should do it full time. (scary!) So one day I just said “okay, let’s make it an official business. I’ve been doing it for years already.”
I also believe in the validity of the 2nd amendment. If the government ever decides to disarm us then we are in trouble, so I feel that if I can have a positive impact on the other “half” of the population then we will be okay. For example, Australia banned guns and it’s not working out for them well at all…
What has been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced starting your own business?
Being a full-time student and teaching. It’s very difficult to focus on both. Also finances. FFT is a bootstrap business, I don’t want to take out loans, and I don’t want to overcharge my customers.
What has been your biggest accomplishments and/or proudest moment operating FFT and training women?
My proudest moments are when I have a student who has come to either learn for the first time, or fix an issue (with precision) and they start hitting the bullseye over and over again and from further and further distances. It’s like standing at the top of a hill after we’ve been struggling up for a while, and seeing an awesome view.
I also did a Free Range Day back in January and I was so happy to see all the women who have never shot a gun before, venture out to try something new.
What can someone expect from you as a firearms instructor?
- I really care about all my students. I care about their well-being and their ability to hit the target. (My major is Psychology, so that may explain it a bit.)
- Definitely professionalism, and expertise.
- They can expect me to give them the right kind of advice for their situation, whether they are a mom, elderly, just curious or totally enthralled with the shooting. I find with most male instructors, that they don’t take into account things like small hands, the type of clothing that the student typically wears, whether the student has children at home, what gun feels comfortable enough to shoot and practice with, etc. They just throw generic information about the biggest and baddest guns their way and let them sort it out on their own.
I’ve mentioned before that I wish I learned the basics from a woman. Do you have any specific techniques or teaching styles specifically for women?
I don’t jump straight into pulling the trigger. I start with the absolute basics from the get go. Like, explaining why the gun does what it does, I have the student go through the motions with dummy rounds, while emphasizing certain things that will help the student understand why it works that way. I find that goes a long way. It also makes the process less scary for someone who may be afraid of taking their first shot.
I’m very patient if there aren’t any results at first, and I always go at their pace, not mine and I don’t always follow what I had planned for the lesson. Every single student of mine is very different from each other and I adapt to them and the way that they learn. (Psychology comes into play here a lot.)
What’s the biggest piece of advice for any shooter (grip, stance, sight picture, etc)?
It’s always to pull the trigger to the rear in a slow and steady way, so slow and so steady that when the gun finally goes off, it should surprise them. Everyone is so eager to jerk the trigger!! Also, to focus their eye on the front sight, not the target.
What advice would you give to a woman that is interested in learning to shoot, but doesn’t know how/where to get started?
Giiirl, hit me up!
Just kidding, haha. I would tell them first to look for a local group of women that shoot, if they can’t find that, then go to a local range or gun store and just walk right up to an employee and tell them exactly what they are looking for, whether it is lessons, advice, or a gun!
What is your go-to Firearm for classes and/or concealed carry?
I’ve got different favorites for different things. For concealed carry, I really like my Glock 42 (.380), but I got it before the Glock 43 (9mm) came out. A 9mm is better for self-defense but a .380 is still good and effective. I also recommend the Sig Sauer P938 for concealed carry.
For my classes I use a Sig Sauer .22 Mosquito for students who are apprehensive about shooting a gun for the first time, I also use it for older folks, and if I need to figure out exactly what a student is doing that is causing their shots to migrate one way or another on the target. For classes, in general, I use a Sig Sauer P226, HK VP9, XDM (9mm), and my Glock 42. I like to have an assortment of handguns and let the students take turns with each so they can see that every one of them is built a little differently, but they are all manipulated basically the same way. My favorite of them all is the Sig P226 ❤.
As a woman in the traditionally male-dominated industry, how do you work to bridge the gender gap?
I just invite women to see what they’re missing out on, if they like it, then I nurture the interest. If they don’t, I don’t push it. If I find any other women that actually do what I do then I like to support them any way I can which is usually just encouragement and advice if they ask for it or teaming up to teach a class together.
Have you experienced any bias on the range? If so, what advice would you give to other women in regards to handling gender bias and/or pushing through the stigma?
ALL. THE. TIME.
It depends on what mood I am in really. I am an introvert by nature (shocking, I know.) So, usually, I just ignore it if they have something ignorant to say. If it is really outlandish then I am very straightforward with my thoughts and I let them know they are being ridiculous. I also just let my shooting and skills speak for themselves. Guys usually mean well if they say/suggest something, so I keep that in mind.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about women and firearms?
Probably that women aren’t interested in learning about them. I’m blown away by how many women actually want to learn, but are just intimidated by how it seems to be such a male-dominated interest.
Outside of your training schedule, I’ve seen you post that you shoot in IDPA. How long have you been participating? What do you enjoy most about it?
Ha! I have to be honest here, I have only shot about 4 IDPA matches in my life. Most of my competition shooting was in high school (I did go to nationals!), the Marine Corps, and with co-workers at a range I used to work at. I do plan to become more active in IDPA matches when I am done with school. I love them, they are SO fun.
Last but not least, what is in your range bag?
Currently, 2 handguns, 5 magazines for them, .22 ammo, 2 sets of eye and ear protection, a multitool, some gun oil, dummy rounds, a pen, a snack, a lens cloth (for eye pro) sunglasses, a notepad, a gun owner’s manual, two holsters (inside and outside the waistband) and class learning material for my Ladies Only Basic Pistol Class. ← I’m not too sure why I have that in there.