Lock & load, ladies! Central Alabama sees spike in gun sales to women

There are new shooters on Alabama gun ranges and most of them are ladies. There's been a big spike in women purchasing guns and taking classes. {}A Gallup poll shows the number of women with firearms jumped from 13 to 23 percent in six years. {}Here in central Alabama, gun shop owners say many of their customers are female. Hoover Tactical's gun range is growing. In fact, many of the new shooters, are women. Whether they're learning the sport or self-defense, these ladies are locked and loaded.{}"I can't put a number on it," Natalia Hawthorne, Hoover Tactical said. "We have, not as many as men, but we have a large number of women who come in the store.""I've always had a pistol at home for protection but I've never taken a class to learn how to use it or carry it with me," Diane Green, who's taking the class said. "I need to learn how to load and unload.""They're like shoes," Hawthorne said. "No one can buy you a pair of shoes and you be like, 'this is perfect!' You need to actually try it out."The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports a 37 percent increase in women shooters."When we're out late at night sometimes it's not safe for us to be out at night especially when you run out of gas and you need to drop by the gas station," Nisha Brown, who's taking the class said."When I have it on, it's almost empowering, if something were to happen, I would be able to defend myself," Hawthorne said.The first in a series of women's courses at Hoover Tactical reviews gun safety, how to lock it and store it, how to use it, and how you can carry it with you."These have been flying off the shelves since we got them in," Hawthorne said.They want to carry it with them in purses made to hold a weapon."They have pockets throughout the purse you can stick your gun in," Hawthorne said.We spoke with the gunsmith at Mark's Outdoors. He's seeing a big increase in women shooters, too."Most of the women we are seeing come in are for self defense," Russ Sockwell, Mark's Outdoors said. "They're looking for something they can carry in their purse or keep in their car that's not too heavy or bulky."He said, they're finding female customers concerned for safety."It's been quite a bit in the past year," Sockwell said. "Folks coming in wanting to get stuff for self defense and it's been people who would not normally purchase a gun.""I want to learn how to conceal it more and this class teaches us how to do that," Brown said.