EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSIN HER SIGHTS
from Eyewitness News Online
Many Women Taking Bold Approach To Stay Safe
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett, Troy Morgan, Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: May. 21, 2012 8:40 PM EDT
Updated: May. 21, 2012 9:52 PM EDT
Eleanor , Putnam County , West Virginia
There's a new trend among women and it has nothing to do with high heels or hairdos. The number of women who now own guns has grown at a staggering rate.
Eyewitness News reporter Leslie Rubin has a look at how conversations between women about caliber and kickback are swirling across the country.
Call it a sign of the times, but perceptions are changing more and more about a sport that's long been thought of as a man's sport. Girls and guns now go hand in hand.
A different kind of ladies night...at the firing range!
For NRA certified instructor Crystal Newman, it's a niche she didn't know was there until just a few years ago.
"We're good to go. Now I can re-holster," Newman explains to one of her students during a class at the Putnam County Gun Club in Eleanor.
Newman founded the "In Her Sights Women's Only Gun School" after realizing the intimidation some women feel learning to shoot from men. In just one year, she's fielded more than 150 women through her school. She teaches them the basics, and helps them qualify for their concealed carry permits.
"They're starting to realize that we don't live in the same place that we lived in five years ago. It's a big, rough world out there and if they're going to get into a problem, they want to come out on top," says Newman.
"That's what happens a lot of the time. A woman will say, 'aw, I don't need to carry a gun,' then something will happen and they'll realize maybe it's not such a bad idea," she explains.
The same thing happened to her.
"It was the catalyst. I knew I wanted to carry a gun before that, but that was the catalyst." Her home was broken into not once, but twice, the second time, she was armed.
"Fortunately he took off before we were able to get to him, but it's not a good idea to break into my house," she says.
It's that fear of the unknown that's convinced Robin Simms and her daughter Sarah Curry to take action.
"More for personal protection for myself and my family," explains Simms, of Milton.
A trend that's evident across the country. Not only for protection but also for the sisterhood that comes with a day at the range.
The National Rifle association says the largest demographic increase in gun ownership over the last three years goes to women.
At Spring Hill Rod and Gun in South Charleston, the statistics don't lie.
"Alot of woman are packing heat, that's for sure," says Dan Kessel. He's owned the store for 18 years. Back then, he says he would go weeks without selling a gun to a woman. Now, they make up 20% of his sales.
"If a day goes by where a woman doesn't buy a gun in today's time, it's shocking," he says.
An October 2011 Gallup Poll reveals that gun ownership among men increased just 1% between 2009 and 2011, but gun ownership among women rose a staggering 10% during that same time.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation said gun store owners have reported a 73% increase in female customers, 28.5% were bought for hunting, but the number of women buying guns for personal defense increased 83%.
"So many times I'll go into a gun store and the first they want to do is hand the woman a pink pistol, a pink revolver, that's an airweight, snub nose, with 14 pound trigger pull, and that's the absolute worst gun, first gun for a woman," says Newman.
Kessel says it's not easy picking out a perfect gun for a girl. It's all about their experience, and what they're willing to learn and feel comfortable with.
It's that kind of knowledge Newman passes on to her students.
Driven by feelings of vulnerability, and leaving with a sense of reassurance.
"I don't want my children to be in danger, and as a mother, it's my responsiblity, especially if my husband's not home, or around, for me to be able to protect my children properly," says Curry.
"They're going to hunt you down in that house. If they come in, they're going to get you. You see, I'm going to be waiting on the other side of the door. I'm prepared and I'm ready. It's them or us and it's not going to be us," says Simms.
Newman offers classes in small groups, or individually. For more information, log on to www.inhersights.net.
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