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Effective Defense
The Woman, The Plan, The Gun

Gila Hayes

This book has been renamed, expanded and is now available through


Effective Defense begins with a discussion of the will to survive. Gila Hayes also spends time on the theme that "Victory is a Fight Avoided." She stresses the importance of recognizing and assessing threats and finding appropriate responses. As undramatic as it may seem, an appropriate response can be as simple as walking away. Another chapter deals with unarmed defense or self-defense with tools, such as pepper spray or the kubuton.

The bulk of Effective Defense, however, deals with firearms, primarily handguns, but with strong chapters on rifles and shotguns, both with a clear eye on home defense.

Readers who are new to firearms will find much valuable information in a chapter entitled "Annie Get Your Gun." This takes the reader through the rudimentary decisions on configuration and caliber after a discussion of gun vocabulary.

A chapter on concealed carry is also full of practical advice, again from a woman's point of view. "Individual build governs holster choice," writes Hayes, as she provides a myriad of options as well as a very complete manufacturers' list at the end of the chapter.

Effective Defense continues in the practical self-defense mindset of the first edition of this popular book. In addition to current information about assault and crime prevention, the newly updated volume expands into detailed information about gun and holster selection, legally carrying a concealed handgun, home safety and home defense concerns and other issues facing today's women.
• Developing the self-defense mindset
• Intermediate (unarmed) defenses
• Threat detection & avoidance
• Home defense concerns
• Rightful use of deadly force
• Handgun selection
• Shooting techniques for women
• Children and gun safety
• Sexual assault prevention
• Surviving and avoiding workplace violence
• Separate, in-depth chapters on rifles & shotguns
• Tactics of armed defense
• Concealed carry methods that work for women

Effective Defense: The Woman, the Plan, The Gun (Police Bookshelf) 2000, 247 pages, ISBN 1-8850-360-27

Reviews of this book include:

Gila May-Hayes, a female firearms instructor and gun writer based in Washington state, has written a book for women considering purchasing, using and/or carrying a defensive handgun.

At one time, Gila May (not yet Hayes - she's now married to the head man at the Firearms Academy of Seattle, Marty Hayes) was a self-described "woman who grew up with my mother's repertoire of fears: attack by strangers, rape, and other violent acts by men against women." Her mother warned young Gila to avoid strangers, keep window shades down, dress modestly, etc. Gila's early training was in avoidance, with no game plan if evasion failed. Part of her avoidance plan was that she never left her home after dark. This changed when her job-at-the-time reassigned her to swing shift which entailed nighttime commuting through a bad neighborhood not far from downtown Seattle.

Now that she was forced into driving the streets at night, Gila realized it was just possible she might find herself caught in the middle of a situation all the avoidance in the world (and a can of OC spray) couldn't get her out of. Unfortunately she'd never had any training on how to fight and win under such circumstances. The answer to her problem came from an unexpected source: a college professor's dissertation discussing the reasons people gave when applying for concealed carry permits. As Gila puts it in her introduction to the book: "Ah, ha! I exclaimed. Of course! I need a gun!"

Gila was smart enough to realize her gun wasn't a magic wand that would make her safe by its very presence: she needed to get training in how to USE the gun. What followed over the next several years was the remaking of a shy, timid woman into one of the finest female firearms instructors in the country. Gila trained with and/or picked the brains of Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, Jim Cirillo, Jim Lindell, Ed Nowicki, Greg Hamilton, Evan Marshall and future husband Marty Hayes, among others. Eventually, she took up the mantle of instructor herself, became a frequent contributor of articles to
Women & Guns magazine, and wrote Effective Defense.

I've had the pleasure of shooting and training with Gila when we were both students at another instructor's speed shooting course...and let me tell ya, this woman knows what she's doing with a gun in her hands. I got to watch her fire a Government Model .45 with full-charge loads, all day long, day after day, better than most men can. It was COOL.

Most books on using guns for self protection start out telling you that things like mental attitude, being conscious of your surroundings, avoidance skills, and tactics are far more important than guns per se...then they spend the entire rest of the book talking about nothing by guns, totally ignoring the more important stuff. Gila by contrast begins by telling you the same thing...and then spends most of the rest of the book talking about mental attitude, being conscious of your surroundings, avoidance skills, and tactics.

One of the most important chapters in the book for the new female gun owner will be Chapter 2, The Will to Live, in which Gila addresses the determination to fight for your own life, even to the extent of killing your attacker if need be. Gila puts it bluntly: "The primary concept in self defense mindset is: The assailant forfeited his right to live when he began the assault with intent to cripple or kill." Not to be overlooked, however, is Chapter 6, the one on tactical avoidance skills. The title of this chapter, Victory is a Fight Avoided, pretty much sums up the contents. This is a lesson, in my opinion, more than one macho male gun carrier I've met could stand to learn, as well.
-- Duane Thomas, Tacoma, Washington

This is a comprehensive work written from a women's perspective and Gila knows of what she speaks. She's one of the few competent firearms instructors out there and has written a truly informative and original work. She goes far beyond the "the pointy part goes forward" style of instruction and includes unique lessons learned from her own experience. Any women's self defense book that includes chapters on long guns is A-OK in my opinion.

I buy this book for EVERY women I meet who is looking to get into firearms for self defense or sport. It is invaluable.
-- Roger Young, Tacoma, Washington.  

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