TAYLOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — A girl and a gun, a fitting name for a shooting league created for women by women.
“It’s kind of like being on a bowling league, only we shoot guns,” said Audree Danielson.
A new study finds that close to half of all new U.S. gun buyers since 2019 have been female. In Michigan, a growing number of women are learning how to use a firearm. Images showing unprecedented turnout – 1000 to 2000 women – wrapped around the block during the pandemic to attend the free firearm training event Legally Armed in Detroit.
“I have been consistently teaching ladies-only classes without even intending to because they’re coming out of the woodwork,” said Danielson.
Danielson is a firearms safety instructor specializing in helping first-timers, much like myself, buck the fear.
Hunting, political tensions, armed self-defense, COVID-19 anxiety; researchers say several factors have pulled women into the fold.
For Rachel Gottler, it was about conquering a challenge.
“I enjoy the competitive side of it,” said Gottler.
For Michelle Kinna, personal safety.
“I was nervous. I was by myself,” Kinna.
But for Stephanie Ciner, it was a far more personal undertaking.
“I turned around masked, bag, gun, man coming in,” said Ciner.
At the age of 17, Ciner was held hostage as a patron at a bank during a robbery.
"We were this close, he got into my space, and he had a gun at my head,” said Ciner.
For decades, she was terrified to be in the same room as a gun... until the pandemic.
“I just kind of had it with fear,” said Ciner.
Drawing inspiration from Danielson, a fellow female who was just the mentor she needed to take her power back.
For these women, it’s the feeling the knowledge provides.
“How better to learn how to do this, be amongst my peers and with all women,” said Kinna. “It’s different. It’s a different environment."
Women like Danielson paved that judgment-free zone. She spent years as a minority- the lone woman in a sea of men.
With that— came adversity, but nothing quite as memorable as the shocking thing told to her by one man in the early days of gathering as a women-only group.
“We could exchange recipes, we could gossip like chickens in a coup, but we could not formally learn to shoot without the help of masculine entity of some kind,” said Danielson.
Sparking a camaraderie that has inspired a new wave of women to step into the unknown, to lean on each other, and lean in at the chance to ‘shoot like a girl!'