By DANA DELGADO
Individuals who first step into A Texas Girl’s Guns, a gun shop owned and operated by Judith Baker, are invariably surprised.
But Mrs. Baker’s remarkable military background makes the business a natural fit, and the bonus comes when customers see the extent and quality of her store’s products and services.
“We are a full service gun shop,” says a self-assured Mrs. Baker. “We have such a large inventory that it always surprises our customers.”
The one-stop gun shop carries a full line and ready supply of firearms and accessories that include Kimber pistols and LaRue Tactical rifles, Surefire and Advanced Armament silencers, training DVD’s, concealment products, cleaning supplies, speed loaders, range bags and tactical gear.
There is also a well-stocked reloading section that has become a much more integral section because ammunition, according to Mrs. Baker, has become somewhat limited since the market has been “inundated with hoarders and a growing number of new shooters.”
The store also sells hunting and fishing licenses and has added a line of ladies western purses and boots.
In only its third year, A Texas Girl’s Guns has developed a niche in the firearms and accessories, and training industry that has reached customers in South Austin and all points in between. The success has led Mrs. Baker to double her store space to 1,500 square feet, which includes ample shop and training space.
Despite the store’s name, the business is not a novelty gun shop that is exclusive to the needs of women. It has an appeal to individuals from all walks of life and all ages, genders and interests. While men still dominate the customer base, Mrs. Baker and her husband and business partner Dennis Baker, have seen a steady increase in women especially since she encourages couples along with extended family members to attend training sessions together.
“As an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed) and Class III Dealer, we specialize in supporting the shooting enthusiast, law enforcement, military, hunter and gun collector,” she said. “We offer several firearms training courses including Texas Concealed Handgun License and Texas Hunters Education.”
Also offered are a Pistol Training Course and Firearms Maintenance Training. Instruction is provided at the Gun Shop’s onsite classroom. The shop utilizes the Astro Outdoor Shooting Range on North U.S. Highway 183 for additional training.
Dennis Baker operates a Gunsmith Shop adjacent to A Texas Girl’s Guns as an additional service to customers. The Bakers have been married 38 years.
Judith Baker is certified by the Texas Department of Public Safety and is a former military firearms instructor who has taught hundreds of students over the past eight plus years. She gained in popularity from her reputable teaching and was requested to provide training by military units across the state. In addition to being an experienced firearms trainer she is a Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer who is very knowledgeable about pistols. A multi-media presentation is provided making the class educational, interesting and fun.
Mrs. Baker served eight years in the Texas Guard garnering much experience from her deployment during Hurricane Rita after initially ordered to the Superdome in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. She is the only female in Texas to provide firearms training to active duty soldiers in Texas. She still teaches Texas National and Texas State Guard soldiers. She also was the first engineering specialist in the Texas Guard.
Mrs. Baker got a major shove into firearms training from a General at Camp Mabry in Austin when he directed her to take charge of the firearms training program and “run with it.” Shocked at first by the directive, Mrs. Baker revamped the entire program and despite some early reservations, won the respect of soldiers across the state as well as her superiors for her leadership, determination and innovation.
“I didn’t expect it (success), but I like challenges, breaking boundaries,” the Liberty Hill gun shop owner said. “I built my knowledge and skill with the firearms courses and realized I was changing lives. I enjoyed it.”
Encouragement from fellow soldiers was Mrs. Baker’s inspiration for opening the business in Liberty Hill as well as the intriguing name – a tribute to her trailblazing nature. Initially, A Texas Girl’s Guns got its start at various gun shows.
Ironically, Mrs. Baker grew up in a mobile military family with little interest in firearms. In marriage, she finally relented to her husband’s persistent pleas to become involved with firearms; although her initial experience firing a shotgun left her in shock.
Mrs. Baker worked for years in the rather sedate banking business in Fort Worth before her children were born.
“Children changed my life and I never went back to work again until they were in their teens,” she said.
She established herself as an adept teacher at her children’s schools as well as her church. The experience would serve her well when she became a firearms instructor in the military and in her business.
In their desire to be a community business, the Bakers proudly participate in the annual Wild Game Dinner with the Liberty Hill United Methodist Church. The store also serves as an official food drop off for Operation Liberty Hill, and takes part in the yearly Stonewall Ranch Community Fall Fest at Bill Burden Elementary School with Hill Community Church.
“Take it and run” may have been Mrs. Baker’s call to excel in the military, but it has also been her rallying cry in her business and personal life. Don’t be surprised by anything she undertakes, be amazed.
A Texas Girl’s Guns is located at 13740 Highway 29 Suite 6, and is open from 12 Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, and from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Learn more at www.atexasgirlsguns.com.