KXAN News reports every other Wednesday night Red’s Indoor Gun Range in South Austin is hoppin’. Every bay is usually taken by women. It hasn’t always been this way.
“Every week there would be just me and then one week there would be two of us,” said Nikki Jones who founded Sure Shots, a women’s gun club that got its start back in 2005 when Jones moved from New York to Austin and got her concealed handgun license.
“The difference between the amount of women who were shooting and now is just off the charts,” she said.
Sure Shots now has 300-plus members, some who walk in never having picked up a gun.
“We have a few guns in the house that are in a safe, but in case I needed to use them I thought this would be a comfortable setting since it is all women,” said Elena who is married to a law enforcement officer.
Elena liked it so much she recently decided to get her Concealed Handgun License. She is not alone. As of July 31, 2014 there were 198,000 Texas women with an active license to carry.
“The reason to get a firearm should be one of empowerment and not fear,” said Julianna Crowder, who started teaching CHL courses with her husband eight years ago.
She also founded a Central Texas women’s shooting league called A Girl and A Gun. They meet regularly at a new indoor range in Cedar Park called Shady Oaks. It’s where Bettye Lane Chambliss comes to shoot.
“One day I was out working in the yard and when I came back in there was a man standing in my house,” said Chambliss. “I was pretty much blocked in. There was no way to get to the door.”“The reason to get a firearm should be one of empowerment and not fear,”
— Juliana Crowder, CHL instructor/span>
Her dogs scared off the stranger, and after that she decided to get a gun and learn how to shoot.
“I went, it’s time, it’s time to get something,” said Chambliss.
As women’s gun clubs grow, so do the number of Texas women getting their license to carry. In 2010, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued 22,000 CHL’s to women. In 2013, the state issued nearly 67,000.
“The fact that we’re seeing them take such an interest and putting themselves first is a big testimony to the work that we’re doing,” said Crowder.
Gunmakers and shooting equipment manufacturers are responding with more products targeted toward women.
“As you can see most of our guns are just black and women tend to like more color in their accessories,” said Alex Griffith with STI International, a gun manufacturer in Georgetown.
The company started making a women’s specific pistol called the Electra a couple of years ago due to customer demand. The grip comes in several colors including pink and purple.
“We can’t keep it in stock,” Griffeth added.
The gun has a smaller grip and a spring system that helps absorb more of the recoil.
Back at Sure Shots, league night is more than just target practice. Safety, training and education go hand in hand. After women hit the range, they can step into the classroom.
The night we went, an instructor walked them through a lesson on gun cleaning. The goal is for ladies to leave even more comfortable with their weapons.
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