CAIRO — As a mother of two teenage daughters nearing adulthood, Jen Whitaker thought she had her daughters prepared to someday leave home into a dark and scary world.
She then realized her daughters were naive when it came to personal safety.
“It hit me they are the morons who would park in the deepest, darkest corner of the parking lot next to the child molester’s van,” she said.
Whitaker wanted to learn more about self-defense, especially to teach her daughters. She recently heard about a national group, The Well Armed Woman, and decided to set up the first chapter in northwestern Ohio, one of 11 in the state.
“This is our first meet and greet,” she said.
Nearly 100 women attended the first meeting Sunday at the Cairo Sportsman’s Club, where they will meet others interested in learning more about guns and gun safety in a woman-friendly environment.
“I was hoping for five to 10 women, we have 92 registered today,” Whitaker said.
One of those attending was Heather Cooper, of Lima, who wants to gain more experience with a gun. She has shot before but does not own a gun. She also plans to get her concealed handgun license. She’s interested in learning from a woman’s perspective.
“Explanations will be very clear and it will be less intimidating,” Cooper said.
Above all, gun safety will be a constant theme, Whitaker said.
“We are focusing on gun safety first and foremost,” Whitaker said. “For a lot of these women who are new to guns we just want to take the scary out of the gun.”
Nichole Miller was another attending.
“I think it’s great they are starting a group to empower women to help them learn how to handle guns safely and to protect themselves to make them feel safer,” Miller said.
Miller has some experience with guns but was more interested in a group dedicated to only women. She attended with her mother and several friends. She was there to learn more about gun safety.
“My main focus is gun safety and how to handle a gun in a different situation,” Miller said.
As a woman, Whitaker found it hard to learn about guns and very few women around. When she took her class to get her concealed handgun training, she was one of three women in a class of 20.
“There’s not the pressure to be able to ask a woman if you’re doing something right,” she said.
Women in the class range from those who never handled a gun to those very skilled, Whitaker said.
Each month, the group is going to focus on a different topic. At next month’s meeting, Whitaker plans to bring in a local gun store to have its sales staff talk about handgun options for women before women go out and buy something they may not like.
Future classes will talk about women’s self-defense, concealed carry and how to manage a home invasion, Whitaker said.
Women gun ownership is a fast-growing segment of the population, Whitaker said.
“It’s a scary world out there and women have got to be prepared,” Whitaker said.
For information on the group,email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.