She needed a hobby. She tried guns — and now this Nampa woman is a renowned shooter

Aimee Williams never would have imagined her late 40s would involve being a magazine cover model. Even less likely was the fact that it would be the cover of a shooting magazine.

Williams, 48, was featured on the cover of American Shooting Journal in June. The Nampa resident picked up shooting as a hobby in 2012 after going target shooting with her children for Mother’s Day. Wanting to learn more about proper safety, Williams said she began taking classes and eventually purchased her own pistol. In 2013, she began competitive shooting.

This all seemed rather unlikely from the credentialed trainer at St. Luke’s Medical Center who banned her children from brandishing finger pistols.

But Williams has paved her own way, shooting her way to notoriety in the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). She was approached by the American Shooting Journal about an article on being a woman in shooting, as it is still a male-dominated sport. That article turned into a full-fledged cover shoot, causing her children to brag about their now-famous mother.

“Even my children would come back and say to you: ‘Mom didn’t even buy us toy guns. We weren’t allowed to point our finger at anything,’” Williams said. “My family that knew me when I was little or even prior to 2012 are like, ‘No, we never thought you would be doing this.’ And I would never have dreamed of being on the cover of a magazine.”

Until two years ago, Williams said she hid her passion from coworkers, wanting to avoid the chiding she assumed she would get about “responsible gun ownership.” Williams said she owned guns when she was in her 20s but got rid of them when she had children.

A hospital wasn’t likely to invite inspiring words about her new passion.

“There were a couple of people that I told, and one of them majorly lectured me,” Williams said. “(Then I) told an anesthesiologist. … He told (everyone) I shot competitively. I had people coming out of the woodwork.”

As she continues to thrive on the competitive circuit, Williams said she feels a responsibility as a role model for other women. Shooting doesn’t have to be dangerous; it also doesn’t have to be for men.

Williams’ shooting coach, Ron Stricklin, believes Williams is the perfect ambassador for sending such an important message. Stricklin got into mentoring after his positive experiences as a ski instructor at Bogus Basin. He said he sees that same desire to help others in Williams.

“The first time I saw a student skiing on the same brand of ski that I have, it was very impactful. It opened my eyes to the role that an instructor plays,” Stricklin said. “(Williams is) very personable and she has a drive to make it happen. She enjoys, I believe, seeing other people succeed. And that success is as simple as helping somebody with their first time shooting.”

Williams also wants people to know that owning a gun is not a decision to be taken lightly. Instead, it is a decision that requires training, knowledge and a serious commitment to getting better.

“If you are going to own a firearm, you own the gun. The gun doesn’t own you,” she said. “You learn how to clear malfunctions, you learn how to shoot. People go and they purchase firearms and they don’t do anything to lock them up.”

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz