Women are arming themselves at an unprecedented rate. And although, statistically speaking, the number of female shooters is still relatively small within the gun community, the number has continued to increase over the last several years and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.
“I think they realize in the society we live in they are not always in a group where gentlemen are around, and they are taking personal responsibility for that,” Doug Williamson, owner of The Gun Shoppe in Montgomery, Ala., told the Montgomery Advertiser last week. “These ladies have (made) the decision to be able to prepare… to take care of themselves.”
And learning to take care of themselves they are.
Lt. Stephen Lavender, training bureau commander with the Montgomery Police Academy, conducts a monthly eight-hour Firearms Familiarization Course. The course not only teaches new shooters how to properly handle a firearm, but also covers gun laws as well as the personal responsibilities that come with being a gun owner.
Lavender admits that month after month, the number of women enrolling in the course continues to rise.
“Women are coming here to learn how to use the weapon,” he said. “And what we’re able to offer is more than just the ability to shoot.”
Dennis Cotton, project manager of the Alabama Shooting Complex just north of Talladega, agrees that it’s a growing demographic. In fact, 51 percent of the 345,000 shooters located within 35 miles of the range are women.
“Women are enjoying it,” Cotton said. “They like to have the ability to protect themselves.”
While men still make up the majority of gun owners, the number of women who own firearms is at the highest it’s been since 1993. (Photo credit: Gallup)
Williamson, who has offered firearms training classes for 15 years, added that there’s also been an increase in female-only classes and that most women say they want to learn how to use guns safely and effectively.
“Since we offered specifically ladies-only courses for those who have had no previous exposure to firearms, and make sure everybody is accommodated according to their skill level, we’ve had more interest,” he said.
Billy Cates, general manager at Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply in Fort Collins, Colo. told The Daily Camera back in November that exclusively female classes often help reduce anxiety in women who might otherwise being leery of participating in such training classes.