The Well Armed Woman, a national organization that empowers, equips and educates women about gun ownership and protection, started a chapter in Duncan and will meet Oct. 10 at the Firearms Solutions gun range just outside of town.
Taryn Stewart, NRA certified pistol instructor and co-owner of the range and gun shop, serves as chapter leader in Duncan, which is only one of five in the state.
“The amount of women coming into the store to purchase handguns for themselves and taking our training classes has dramatically increased in the past two years,” she said. “I have talked about starting a women’s only group for quite some time now, and this just felt like the right time. With stories I am reading on facebook and seeing on the news women need to be educated, empowered and equipped on how to use firearms for personal protection.”
Stewart believes women, like any other responsible gun owner, should be aware of safe handling, laws and how to operate firearms.
“Women are an easy target. We can not rely on anybody but ourselves for protection,” she said. “If a woman chooses a gun for protection, then she needs to know how to use it properly and she needs to know the law, gun ownership responsibility, and she needs to know how to safely handle the gun.”
The Well Armed Woman Chisholm trail chapter meets the second Saturday of each month at 3 p.m. at Firearms Solutions.
“There is a yearly $50 member fee to join and pay that fee at www.twawshootingchapters.org,” said Stewart. “We will also pay a $5 range fee at Firearms Solutions, which is half price regular fee. The well armed woman members Also get half off daily range fees anytime they come out to shoot.”
The organization started from a company founded in 2012 by Arizona native Carrie Lightfoot, who was learning about guns for her own self protection but was having trouble finding the resources for women to learn about firearms.
“It was so male driven,” she said. “What I found is that it was oversexualized — women in bikinis shooting guns — or the information was condescending. That really frustrated me and I knew I was not the only one.”
She decided to quit her job and start the Well Armed Woman in her living room.
“I decided to start the company to create a resource for women shooters that spoke to them respectfully and answered their questions,” she said. “Gun ownership is very different for women as it is for men. We have a lot of different questions that need to be answered.”
The company not only offers resources but also offers an extended array of gun-related products designed specifically for women.
“Our bodies are different. We carry firearms in different places than men do,” said Lightfoot with a chuckle. “There weren’t any holsters for women. We designed holsters and carry product that are made for or work well for women.”
In 2013, Lightfoot decided to create the nonprofit organization to help women learn about firearms and shooting.
“A lot of women who were curious and wanted to learn about shooting were uncomfortable about going to a shooting range by themselves,” she said. “It was very intimidating and they really wanted to shoot together and be comfortable. The idea of the chapter program was born through a lot of that feedback. The program is designed to create the opportunity at range all across the country that are for women only and they can go and talk about issues that are important for them without being intimidated by al the testosterone and to shoot together.”
At every meeting, women speak about issues that are important for them and also have the ability to shoot together.
“It could be children on the home, how to safely store your firearm and what goes along with decision,” said Lightfoot. “There will be training and shooting.”
The organization is now represented in all 50 states with 235 chapters serving more than 6,500 women.
“Our chapter leaders, like (Stewart) are the ones that are in the ground at communities all over the country fueling this whole thing,” said Lightfoot. “Their passionate and committed to helping women and that has been an amazing thing to see. We have about 500 chapter leaders across the country. They are all volunteers.”
For more information about the chapter call Firearms Solutions at 580-470-9508.