She Can Shoot: a women-only gun club

The all-women's firearms training group was founded locally in 2010. (Photo: WJLA)

There’s been a dramatic increase in the number of women arming themselves with guns, but it’s not just about protection.

Besides the feeling of empowerment, the release of stress and the camaraderie while gripping a firearm, the women of “She Can Shoot” share a much greater bond.

"It's a sport, it’s fun,” said Patti Brennan, a member. “I get to relax after a long day."

"When I was 17 in college, I was raped and I swore never again," said Tess Ailshrie, member.

Tina Wilson-Cohen, an NRA certified firearms instructor, founded the all-women’s group locally in 2010. Within 24 hours of going online, 99 women had signed up. Today, more than 1800 woman are members of the group nationally and dozens more have turned this into a career.

"It wasn't just like, oh, I get to shoot, it was like I really need to protect myself," Gardner said.

All of the members are trained and certified to use firearms and perform tactical shooting.

Member Rachelle Gardner said it was a defining moment in her life that convinced her that this group was for her.

"My mom was caught in the crosshairs on her way home. She was shot in the head. She survived," Gardner said.

The majority of the women are married, some of whom have children as young as 18 months.

Many of them already own their own guns and they say that ear-pairing bang comes pretty natural.

"I can't remember when I didn't shoot,” Ailshrie said. “My father was a gun instructor."

But for others, it’s a challenge.

"It’s scary at first, but then you should be able to overcome that fear and feel like you're still in control," said Joni Rocha, member.

As a former Secret Service agent and Air Marshall, Wilson-Cohen says she wholeheartedly believes women are more patient, more thorough and simply a better shot than men.

"I recognized the need once I retired from law enforcement that it was a huge need for civilians to become trained with firearms,” she said.

"Women, I find, tend to do their homework first," she added.

According to "Gun Owners of America," at least 17 million women own firearms in the United States - a 73 percent increase in female customers in 2009.

While self-defense is a popular reason of why women are joining the group, some admit it's just more fun than joining a book club.

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