Rene Audsley doesn’t teach gun safety for the money.
Retired from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Audsley now follows her “passion” with SAFE-Safety Aim Fire Education.
“My passion is educating and empowering the normal citizen who does not have a law enforcement or military background,” said Audsley, a Desert Hills resident.
“Most of my students are civilians. I have a couple corporate accounts. I do executive protection, and I recertify armed guards.”
Audsley has been a firearms instructor since 1995, when she started teaching police officers. Her co-workers asked if she could teach their daughters or wives how to properly fire a gun.
“When family tries to teach family, it doesn’t work out so well,” she said. “A lot of people said I have a knack for teaching people. It’s very gratifying and rewarding. It’s different than teaching police officers.
“When you teach police officers, it’s a different world. We’re serious, and we focus on safety. People learn better in a real educational environment. I get to watch that person evolve before my eyes. That’s what brings me so much joy.”
Typically, her students have limited knowledge of guns or have never touched one. By the time they leave the range, though, Audsley said her students are confident, empowered and shoot extremely well.
Following in her father’s footsteps
Audsley became a police officer in April 1990, inspired by her Marine/law enforcement officer father, David Audsley.
“He was a sergeant in charge of the bomb squad (unit) for the Arizona Department of Public Safety,” he said. “My mom died when I was young. My dad, still to this day, is my hero.
“He’s a magnificent human, a wonderful father. He did a phenomenal job of raising myself and my siblings. That’s where I got my idea from. Throughout elementary, junior high and high school, I was the kid who would try to stick up for the ones getting picked on.”
An Arizona native who was raised in Peoria, Audsley has another love—competing in barrel racing professionally in rodeos. She received her first horse in the fourth grade, as she lived in an area of town with irrigated property. Her parents encouraged their children to get into FFA, “farm stuff, county fairs and horses.”
“It stuck with me,” she said. “I absolutely love horses.”
Audsley has been shooting just as long. She has a photo of herself holding a pistol at age 7 with her father behind her in Sedona.
“I still remember that picture,” she said. “It wasn’t scary for me to hold a gun. The reason it wasn’t scary was because I was educated. I find in my classes, when I’m teaching people, that’s what takes the fear away.”
Upon entering the private sector in 2014 with 24 years of service with DPS, Audsley did protection detail for the Arizona Cardinals during the 2015-16 season. She now offers executive protection for celebrities.
Audsley founded SAFE in 2014, after she retired from DPS. She has five instructors, most of whom are independent contractors.
Her students start in the classroom and learn the nomenclature of the guns. They are tested on that knowledge, and Audsley doesn’t lead anyone to the range until everyone knows the safety rules by heart—without looking at the back of her business card.
Retired since 1992, Audsley’s father lives in Prescott Valley and formerly did consultations for movie companies. As the international director for the U.S. Bomb Technician Association for one term, David Audsley consulted after the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11.
As for Audsley, her classes include CCW ($80); combo CCW and basic intro ($200); children’s basic introduction to firearm safety ($130); adult basic introduction to firearm safety ($130); intermediate firearms class ($110); tactical class ($150); and a basic introduction to firearm safety refresher ($90).
“The parents of the children have to be present for the entire class,” she said about the children’s class. “Curiosity is what kills the cat. It’s them not being safe. If the parents are gun owners, it can lead to peer pressure. I tell the kids, don’t be the duck and follow friends. Be the eagle and lead the pack. Meaning, they should get out of the situation and call their parents immediately.”
She thinks weapon safety is so important that she taught her three daughters—Alexa, 21, Bailey, 23, and Jessica, 25—how to shoot. Her husband, Doug Pavlock, has two children as well—Kamille, 17, and Kolby, 21.
Audsley said she’s happy she retired from the police department.
“In the past 30 years, people’s perspective has changed on law enforcement,” she said. “I had a good experience, but you deal with people totally at their worst.
“Only one or two people took the time to thank me. That’s what matters to me. I made a difference in someone’s life.”