Handgun sales numbers are up, but it's who's buying them that may be surprising. National numbers show that women are quickly becoming some of the top customers at gun shops.
Certified handgun instructor Kathy Richardson said, "I've had more women in this past year than I have in the past years before."
Richardson has taught this concealed handgun class for more than eleven years, but these days more women than ever before are filling the seats in her classroom.
She said, "A lot of women are really stepping up and getting their pistols and they are learning how to shoot."
This isn't just in Richardson's class. Enrollment numbers are up nationwide. The National Shooting Sports Foundation shows gun stores reported a 73% increase in female customers.
"The men are usually the ones that know how to handle a gun and the women are deciding that they need the experience and that's what I need," said Nan Suggs, a student in Richardson's class.
Of those female customers, more than 83% bought their guns for self defense. It's a trend Richardson sees in her classroom.
"Their husbands are leaving them home alone because of their jobs. Some ladies are now widowers and they want to be sure and protect themselves," Richardson said.
Nan Suggs is 80 years old. Her handgun is a brand new investment.
"I just bought it," she said. She wants to learn self-defense just like many other Texoma women.
"I read that a lot of ladies are buying guns and then I always thought when I travel that if I had car trouble I would need something you know, more than pepper spray," Suggs said.
Her daughter Vicky is taking the class for the same reason. "To feel safe and secure and watch over my family and take care of issues if I have to if they arise."
Richardson has to take a different approach when teaching women how to shoot.
"Ladies are really intimidated by a gun. Its the old wives tale where guns are dangerous, they'll kill people. Guns are not dangerous. Its the person that is holding the gun that is dangerous,"said Richardson.
That's why her classes stress safety and then technique.
"I've had some ladies that have come to me that have never shot before, and they will tell me right up front, 'I am scared to death of this gun' and by the time through with them, I've got them shooting one handed."
For Kathy, empowering other women through her classes is a joy. "We make it fun! Bring a lot of ammo is my suggestion!"
She's happy more women are buying guns. "Sometimes there is not going to be a man around that is going to protect you, so you have to know how to protect yourself."
Kathy says her concealed handgun classes fill up quickly. If you are interested in signing up or just to get more information about classes you can reach her at (940) 851-6079.
Kathy gave Newschannel 6 some tips for first-timers who may be considering buying a handgun.
- Find a gun you feel comfortable holding.
She says the key is finding a gun that feels comfortable in your hand is best and most important. Unless the handler feels comfortable holding the gun, they will not feel comfortable shooting.
- Practice, practice, practice.
The more you shoot, the more you will feel comfortable with your handgun. Kathy suggests buying a lot of ammo and head to your closest range.
- Find a certified instructor.
Last, she stresses the importance of getting lessons from a qualified teacher with a lot of experience.