BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Being attacked by four men while working as an unarmed security guard, spending years in an abusive marriage, and then a burglary at her home taught Kim Bartlett a thing or two about staying safe.
A gun, and knowing how to use it, is the answer for her.
She has a concealed carry permit and most often has a gun within reach. She packs a 9mm handgun, and owns more than 20 pistols and long guns.
Other women share her belief, and dozens are expected to show up at today’s inaugural meeting of Monroe County’s Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapter, “Where the Feminine and Firearms Meet.” It’s the eighth chapter to be established in Indiana – there are two others in Indianapolis, one in Avon, one in Westfield, one in Columbus, one in LaPorte, and one in Brown County.
Diana Biddle, just elected as a county commissioner in Brown County, started the Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapter there in April. Fifty women attended that first meeting, and about 25 have continued to attend the two-hour gatherings at the Hoosier Hills Rifle and Pistol Club‘s outdoor range in Gnaw Bone the first Sunday of every month.
Biddle has a permit to carry a handgun, and keeps a Beretta Nano 9mm — it’s pink — holstered to her body. Until a few months ago, she owned and worked at the grocery store in rural Bean Blossom, and leaving late at night in the dark left her feeling uncomfortable. “As a matter of safety, a couple of years ago I got a concealed carry permit,” she said.
Biddle grew up around guns and lives in a community with a high per-capita number of concealed carry permits. She said about half of them have been issued to women, and she’s not surprised. “We are a rural community, and law enforcement is pretty spread out and response times are long. People here are a pretty self-reliant bunch, and we depend on ourselves to take care of our safety.”
She said the well-armed women’s organization’s goals are simple: to educate, equip and empower women.
“Education is probably 90 percent of what I do,” she told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/1x63pOV ).
During the upcoming cold weather months, the club will move indoors from the shooting range and have session on gun cleaning and mechanics, how to not become a victim, and also an informal holster fashion show. “You can get a holster in 48 different colors,” Biddle said.
Female gun owners also can choose compression undershorts with a sewn-in holster, a concealment midriff tank top, a FlashBang bra holster or a thigh holster that sells for $49.99, with a garter belt available for an extra charge.
Members, who pay $50 in annual dues, are diverse. “I have a 21-year-old who’s a new mom and a lady in her mid-80s whose husband died and she lives in the middle of nowhere. She knew how to shoot, but had not done it in a long time.”
Biddle and Bartlett both know women who own guns but want an opportunity to practice to become proficient in their shooting skills.
“Gun clubs and gun ranges are dominated by men, and some women are intimidated, and this puts the whole firearms education scenario into a more friendly environment,” Biddle said. “It’s just girls.”
Bartlett was surprised to learn about the nationwide shooting organization solely for women. She has heard from more than 200 wanting to learn more.
“There are a lot of women with guns that need to learn more about using them, and others who don’t have a gun but want to invest in one and learn to shoot,” she said.
Bartlett was in her 40s when she bought her first firearm, a .38-caliber special, from a gun dealer in Texas. Her collection has grown since. On Friday, she and her husband drove to a Terre Haute gun shop to buy her a new 9mm Kimber Sapphire.
Today’s event is from 2 until 4 p.m. at the Liberty Bail Bond office at 410 N. Morton Ave. in downtown Bloomington. The meetings will move to the Precision Shooting Range now under construction on Ind. 43 in Owen County.
“It’s not about hurting someone else,” Bartlett said. “It’s about protecting yourself.”
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com