POSTED: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 10:43pm
UPDATED: Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 1:39pm
(KETK) - Tyler, Tx — They are the fastest growing gun customers in America, and the guns they are buying are pink. Whether the purchase is for personal protection or for sport, it is the ladies who are taking over the gun industry. Women's participation in shooting has increased by more than 50 percent in the last decade.
"It's been a huge spike, a lot of manufactures have noticed a lot of females wanting to do more than carry around pepper mace so they want to protect themselves with a fire arm so they're geared toward women," said Robert Quates, manager at Lock and Load shooting range. "Weapons that are pink and purple, it's something a little more feminine and it's bringing a lot more women out into the shooting industry."
Across the nation, and especially here in Texas you are seeing women not only entering the gun world, but succeeding in it. And they are the ones sky-rocketing the number of gun owners in the United States.
"In years past, the equipment that we used was simply small men's equipment," said President of the Youth Target Foundation and Founder of Lipstick and Lead, Jeanie Almond. "But our industry has responded now so we have clothes and equipment that fit us which is absolutely the way it should be."
Almond's granddaughter, MaKenna Enfinger is a fourth generation shooter who has adopted her grandmother and mother's love of shooting.
"The fact that it is such a male dominated sport, the fact that girls can go out and shoot the same scores that guys shoot and the same targets that guys shoot if not better it's so awesome," Enfinger said.
For Enfinger, it is in her blood; she grew up watching a string of her family members dominate the sport, but she was also taught to use her gun as protection.
"As soon as I started learning that stuff I was never scared to be anywhere I'm always in control of the situation," Enfinger emphasized.
Unfortunately, MaKenna is an exception and all too often women go to buy a gun and learn these valuable skills after they have been hurt.
"Many times the women who approach us are women who've been frightened and in some way have been a victim," Almond said.
According to gun experts, a woman will use a gun to protect herself against sexual assault 200,000 times a year.
"I recommend getting a gun for women who may be alone," Almond said.
"A gun provides for them, if nothing else, a way to protect themselves," said Monique Dorsey, owner of Rose City Flying Clays in Tyler.
"We recommend very simple handguns, revolvers, and that the women be very, very capable of understanding and handling their equipment," Almond said.
Jeanie Almond or "Mama Jeanie" has dedicated her life to empowering others.
She started "Lipstick and Lead" and "Handguns and High Heels" to give strength to women and teach them how to handle a gun.
She is also the President of the Youth Target Foundation, a non-profit that promotes and protects the traditions of target sports, giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in scholarships.
Her passion came from a tragic incident that hit close to home.
"My oldest daughter is a statistic," Almond said. "Her husband was gone on a business trip when she heard the noise. There was a hairy arm sticking through the doggie door, trying to unlock her doorknob. She said, 'I looked down and realized I had my 38 in my hand and at that point, I said loudly to the intruder come through the door and I will defend myself and my children."
"He was so surprised he broke her fence trying to get out of the yard and then the sirens when on," Almond explained. "At that point it would have been too late, had my child not been trained and able to defend herself."
Her goal now is to teach other women the same way she taught her daughter.
"We have to make them aware of everything around them, in order to keep them safe." Almond said. "We work really hard to have women come work with us before they're hurt, rather than after."
The best way to protect yourself? Get comfortable with your equipment, take the required classes and know the law.
"If you have a gun you need to use it," Dorsey said. "You need to use it on a regular basis practice, practice, practice."
"We've actually had all females in the class and they weren't female classes, it's kind of different but it's good it just means there's more people out there protecting themselves and not becoming victims," Quates said.
"There are terrible stories about women who were defenseless," Almond said. "You are all so precious and wonderful and important, to convey that you need to protect yourself, that's the real message."