“I was car jacked at gunpoint in one of the seven cities. An individual literally jumped through my passenger side of my vehicle, held a gun to my head, and it was at that point that I realized I needed a way to protect myself,” Gerber said.
Locally, this sentiment is having a chain reaction and an all-women’s group in Virginia Beach is taking action by getting educated and training in firearm use.
If you think women are not as likely to walk into a gun store or gun range – think again.
Jay Agustin, owner of Colonial Shooting Academy, said he is seeing more and more women come into the store. He said the classes are comprised 75% of women.
Gerber said she was petrified to hold her first gun, but she knew she needed to conquer her fear, “I was drenched in sweat, my hands were sweaty I was scared and I hadn’t even loaded it yet or shot it, I was just so petrified.” Gerber said thanks to her training she got much more comfortable.
Now, two years later, Gerber teaches other women about firearm safety and self-defense.
Gerber started the 757 Ladies Packing Heat club in October 2014 and with three other women. Today it’s more than 100 women strong and meets weekly.
Gerber said, “I totally believe that every woman needs to be trained. We train women all the way up. I had a 77-year-old and an 83-year-old that I trained to draw from her walker because she has a right to defend herself. Every woman has a right to defend herself, they need not only firearm safety but other methods of self-defense.”
Colonial Shooting Academy also teaches people how to use pepper spray, Tasers, and other items you can fit in a purse. The courses focus on being aware of your surroundings and protecting yourself and your family. Many of the members are mothers and feel the need to protect their young, especially if they are single moms or wives with deployed husbands.
Not every woman needed a traumatic event to take action. Many, like Brenda Tusing, are training as a precaution. Tusing said there are guns in her house and rather than be frightened by them, she decided to learn how to use them. “The reason I started shooting was because I was terrified of guns and I needed to get past that,” said Tusing.
Instructors are getting more and more women in their classes who say they buy the guns because they’re afraid, but they train so they are not afraid of the weapon.