More women choosing to protect themselves with firearms

Posted: 7:00 PM EST Feb 11, 2013   Updated: 5:24 AM EST Feb 12, 2013

They're not trying to be Annie Oakley but a lot of woman admit they are learning about firearms to protect themselves and family members.

A new study shows in the last 10 years there has been close to a 50% increase in women that participate in shooting sports.

Many of the women cited self-defense or personal protection for the reason they are packing heat.

Also one particular group of women seem to be learning more than others.

They are at the shooting range and more women are also carrying guns for protection.

"I think it's fantastic," said gun owner Ashlee Winter.

Winter started learning about firearms two years ago.

"I wanted to defend myself if I ever needed to," she added. "You know my husband and I aren't together all the time."

Many women feel like Ashlee Winter.

A survey by the national Sporting Goods Association shows in 2011 five million women were participating in target shooting.

“A lot of them are just really interested in how these things work,” said Sandy Kashpureff, a certified National Rifle Association instructor.

The interest in guns spans all adult age groups, but instructors say they have been seeing more of one particular group: seniors.

“Home invasions are on the rise," said Kashpureff. "A lot of older women, their spouses are dying and they are left with their own firearm and they are not really sure how to use it or when it's appropriate.”

Now many say they do know when to shoot.

“They do not have to be a victim,” said Kashpureff.

It also gives them a peace of mind in case anything happens.

"If I came across a 250 pound man and had to defend myself without a firearm I probably wouldn't be able to," said Winter. "I'm not as strong as he is. And I feel that having a firearm does put me at that level to be able to defend myself."

One other reason for the surge in new female gun ownership is the looming gun control laws.

Ashlee Winter tells us in her gun club certification class there were 70 people, and a lot of them were women.