SPECIAL REPORT: Well Armed Women

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She had her concealed pistol license, but Marcy Jankovich didn't feel comfortable carrying.

"I didn't feel confident that I wouldn't shoot my toe off," she explained.

So, Jankovich helped create the Jackson chapter of the Well Armed Woman, a gun club just for women.

"There's something for every level of experience, but our mission and our purpose is to educate, equip and empower women in the safe use of firearms and self defense," Jankovich told News Ten.

Right now, there are over 250 chapters across the country, ten of those are in Michigan. That means there are well over 7,000 women in the U.S. learning the safety and proper techniques of a firearm.

"Knowledge is power. And for me, it's self defense and the women I'm talking to, for them, it's self defense. Plus, once you come for that reason, then you find out shooting's fun," Jankovich added.

At their first meeting in January, Jankovich says well over 100 women attended. It was standing room only.

"Shooting sports has been very male dominated for a number of years and there are issues that women need to think about that men don't understand," she explained. "So, it's primarily to encourage women in a non threatening, non intimidating environment."

An environment Maria Gelispie knows is crucial. So, after noticing more and more women taking her husband's class, she told News Ten that she jumped on the opportunity to become an NRA Instructor.

"Women seem to be more at ease in a classroom when there's another female around," she explained. "And, I take the time to work with the women that are really, really slow. Because a lot of women that we get in our class have never touched a gun before in their life."

Gelispie says women are learning to shoot because when it comes to self defense a firearm is the weapon of choice.

"They are concerned for their safety," she said. "Besides women that move around at night, you have a lot of women that are heads of households now, you know and women that have their own business."

So, part of Gelispie's class is focused on how to defend yourself.

"We put up three targets 'cause usually nowadays when you're attacked, it's by more than one person. So, there's two shots into each person," she said. "The main thing is women are looked on as easy targets and they're tired of that. You know, women want to be empowered."

Which might be why they're taking over the classes at East Lansing's Demmer Center.

"We have like a three month waiting period right now," said Range Safety Officer, Al Vansteekiste, with the Demmer Center. "And then, the CPL classes, we're up three months ahead, too. So yeah, they're taking 'em left and right. We've seen younger people in their 20s, all the way up to 80, you know, they enjoy it."

And, the market has even started catering to women with colored guns and special concealed carry purses.

CPL Instructor, Joe Burden with Schupbach's, said this strong participation from women is long overdue. And, he admits, they're great shooters.

"They don't overthink it. They open their mind and they just do what needs to be done. They - also in the classroom. Man, I'm gonna get excommunicated. They make better students because they don't come there with all these preconceived notions and they want to learn," Burden said.

Because for some, that education could save their life.

Jackson's Well Armed Women Chapter will host their 2nd meeting this Saturday, Feb. 20th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Columbia Township Hall.

If you're interested in learning how to shoot, the Demmer Center has a number of programs specifically for women. The facility also offers CPL classes on a regular basis. For more information, click the link on the right.

And, if you're in the market for a firearm or would like to take a CPL class in the Jackson area, Schupbachs Sporting Goods is open every day, but Sunday. For more information, you can visit the store's website (link on the right) or call Joe Burden at (517) 782 - 8418.

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