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By Art Holliday

BRIDGETON, Mo. (KSDK) - A dozen women gathered at the Gateway Gun Club. It was the inaugural meeting of The Well Armed Woman, Bridgeton.

Organizer Shanan Smith, the indoor range manager of the Gateway Gun Club, is demonstrating the proper way to hold a handgun.

"Have a nice firm grip on this hand where it's comfortable. Don't cross your thumbs. What happens when you cross your thumbs is you're going to gash yourself," said Smith.

The Well Armed Woman is a gun organization where women who enjoy the adrenaline of shooting or want to learn to shoot can practice in a female friendly environment. Nationwide, there are 150 chapters, including a chapter in Arnold.

Rhonda Wurm says she's been shooting guns most of her life and it shows on her target with bullet holes bunched near the bullseye.

"You still want to have a respectful fear for the weapon always because it can be a weapon and can harm," said Wurm.

A 2011 Gallop poll found 23 percent of American women own a gun. Self protection is one of the key reasons.

"I'm a 5'2" grandmother," said Linda Robey. "It's nice to have something that gives you a feeling of security."

"Just knowing how to use it and how to use it confidently if we ever need to in that situation as far as self defense goes," said Wurm. "Also just to realize we can enjoy shooting, too."

It feels like much of the national gun safety debate has been dominated by men. That could change as gun ownership by women continues to rise.

"I think we are being heard. I think there is a big rise within the NRA with women and we do feel empowered within that group to speak our mind," said Smith.

For more information about The Well Armed Woman, visit their website.

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