Kansas: Dorothy Trades in Ruby Slippers for Handgun

Becky Blackburn and Kristie Wichert have never shot a gun before.

But on a Thursday evening, they were sitting in a classroom at Bullseye Shooting Range in Wichita with four other women to learn how to shoot handguns.

“The reason why I’m here tonight is so I don’t feel foolish if I went to a firing range on my own and looked like a newbie,” Blackburn said. “I want a good education tonight so I feel comfortable if I go someplace else and do it and not have a man looking at me like, ‘What are you doing?’ ”

The two friends had driven from Hutchinson to learn how to shoot a gun. They chose Bullseye because of the women-only handgun class.

Blackburn and Wichert said they intend to use their guns not just for protection but for fun, too.

“I don’t buy purses; I don’t buy shoes,” Blackburn said. “So, this is my new little hobby.”

The pair are examples of a growing trend: More and more women are becoming interested in guns and learning how to shoot.
Numbers rising

According to statistics from the Kansas Attorney General, 2,491 women submitted concealed-carry applications in fiscal 2012. That represents more than a 57 percent increase in applicants from the previous year.

In Sedgwick County, 512 women applied for concealed-carry licenses in fiscal 2012, a 43.8 percent increase from the previous year.

Patricia Stoneking, owner and instructor at Target Master Shooting Academy in Bonner Springs, says she’s seeing more women in her beginner classes and on the range.

“One or two years ago, there would be one or two women and six men in a class,” she said.

Now the ratio is reversed.

“When you’re dealing with it every day, it’s obvious to see the increase of women shooting…”



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