Hello, my name is Ava Flanell, and I am the founder of Elite Firearms & Training!
I do not have a military or law enforcement background, nor did I grow up with a love for firearms like most firearm instructors or gun store owners. My story is quite different, and as I write this, I still find it crazy to believe that I have chosen this career path that I’m absolutely in love with.
I grew up in Colorado, where my parents owned a local gun store and shooting range. Contrary to what most would assume, I did not own my first firearm at the age of five or go shooting everyday. My experience is the opposite: like most little girls, my attention was more focused on Barbie’s and my Easy Bake Oven. This did not change as I grew to be a teenager. Occasionally, I worked at my parent’s store when I needed money to go to the mall with friends, but otherwise I avoided it. I wasn’t anti-gun; my interests were just directed towards other things. In addition, I saw the firearm industry as more of a male hobby.
After high school, I left Colorado to attend Fordham University in New York City. I graduated with a double major in English and Communications in just three years. I was then grateful to land a job with the New York Yankees, starting off in sales and then, after only a year, I moved to the legal and finance department. I lived in New York City for a total of eight years, where I gained invaluable personal and work experience.
In June 2012, while visiting my family in Colorado, a few cameramen wanted to videotape my mom, a certified firearms instructor, teaching me how to shoot. I remember my mom loading the firearm for me, because I couldn’t manage to load the magazine or rack the slide. I even wore workout gloves so my hands wouldn’t hurt. Fake pearl bracelets hung on my wrists, and I was more excited to wear pink ear muffs then I was to shoot. After my mom explained the shooting fundamentals and ensured my stance was correct, I fired a 9mm for the first time. My first shot was dead center. A perfect second followed, then a third and so on. It was exciting, empowering, and oddly enough meditative. Shocked by my accuracy, the cameramen kept asking my mom if it was really my first time shooting.
A few days after, I sadly lost my mom, my best friend, my everything, to a horrible (firearm-unrelated) accident. For the first time, I truly realized how unjust the world can be at times, and that there are no promises or guarantees in life.
I left New York and moved back to Colorado to help with the family business. This time devoted to learning the business with the intent of preserving my mom’s legacy and continuing her contributions. The family business I had always taken for granted and never took an interest in, suddenly became very important me. I learned all that I could.
Then, as crazy and cliche’ as it sounds, I woke up one day and decided I was going to be a firearms instructor like my mom. I practiced often, and within a year I became NRA certified in Basic Pistol, Range Safety Officer, Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection Inside the Home, Personal Protection Outside the Home, and Refuse To Be A Victim. I became obsessed with learning anything related to firearms and shooting. I’d go on dates and instead of engaging in conversation, I’d often catch myself staring off into the distance and think of theories as to why 22lr is notorious for misfires, whether or not 9mm is better than 380 auto for self protection; and nonconventional ways women could conceal a firearm with quick access.
When I taught students who were new to firearms I could completely relate to their fears and questions. I passed on strategies I found to be helpful when I was starting out, which I felt made me a better instructor. More so, as I became more knowledgeable, and followed my mother’s footsteps, it made me feel, and continues to make me feel, so much closer to her.
In May 2013, I created Elite Firearms Training. As a very feminine woman, I hope to show women they can still be girly but capable of protecting themselves. This industry does not have to be male dominant, and I plan to continue to break the many stereotypes most associate with firearms.
In June 2014, I received my federal firearms license, changing the business name to Elite Firearms & Training. I wanted to not only teach students how to use firearms, but also equip them with something they felt comfortable using at a much more affordable cost, so that personal protection would not have to be such a financial crutch.
After being in business for some time now, I cannot believe how well things have taken off. I often look back and think it’s crazy how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned, and how accurate my shooting is. That morning when I woke up and decided to follow in my mom’s footsteps, I know I wasn’t alone.
I dedicate my past, present, and future success to my mom. A person who has taught me more than I ever realized I knew.
Thank you for your support!