NEWBURY, Ohio - Nearly 13 million Americans have permits to carry concealed handguns, which is triple the number from just nine years ago, and a good portion of them are women.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation found 42.1 percent of women in the U.S. have owned a gun for at least 10 years, but most don’t use or know how to properly handle their firearm.
But that is slowly starting to change.
"We wanted to have a female presence within the firearms industry,” said Leah Frederick, co-owner of the First Strike Indoor Range in Newbury.
She is a female instructor. One that’s pretty rare, as she’s the only female who owns two major gun range facilities in Northeast Ohio.
But she says she’s not breaking the glass ceiling all alone. Slowly more women are stepping up to the plate as instructors, teaching fundamentals, which traditionally, would be something women have either shied away from or been discouraged to do.
The key she says is to decrease intimidation and emphasize education.
“[Women now feel] more comfortable coming to the gun range, where before they didn't, they felt very much like outcasts," she said.
The latest numbers from the Ohio division of the National Rifle Association, which have only been released to News 5, show there are 38 women instructors in Northeast Ohio, 526 in the state that's more than doubled over the past decade, and that’s not including private organizations.
Fredericks and other instructors say part of the growth is due to a desire for education and an industry that's becoming more inclusive.
That inclusion has been helpful for beginners like Mardee Ciresi.
"Before I took the class, I would've never been able to pick one up or even know how to fire it," Ciresi said.