Fourteen years ago, a suggestion from then-member, now Oklahoma City Gun Club President, Suzi Rouse for a women's-only instructional shoot at the club was met with skepticism by the male members.
“The boys said, ‘Honey, you will be lucky if you get 10 women.' I got 57,” Rouse said.
Fourteen years later, the event has grown to almost 600 participants, the maximum the Oklahoma City Gun Club can accommodate for the event, which allows women to shoot .22-caliber handguns, all kinds of lever- and bolt-action .22 rifles, shotguns and AR-15s.
“It's basically designed for an absolute rookie,” Rouse said of Saturday's 14th annual fun shoot just for women. “When they come in the morning they are absolutely intimidated. By the end of the day, they are loving it.”
The women's-only fun shoot is funded by a grant from the National Rifle Association's Women On Target program, which also funds other women's instructional shoots around the country. The Oklahoma City women's fun shoot, however, is the largest, Rouse said.
Benelli donated all the shotguns for the women to shoot. Smith & Wesson and Glock provided the handguns. DPMS Panther Arms of Minnesota provided the high-powered AR-15s, which seemed to be most of the ladies' gun of choice on Saturday.
Law enforcement officers from the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Midwest City Police Department, as well as Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation employees, served as instructors.
The women are divided into groups of 100 each and move from range to range throughout the day, which each person getting a chance to shoot all of the guns at metal targets and clay pigeons.
For some women, Saturday's shoot is the only time of year they will pick up a gun.
“I have families, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, who come every year just to do something together,” Rouse said.
For others, Saturday's shoot will lead them to become gun owners.
“Some of the ladies go on to get their concealed carry license, and some of them get into competitive shooting,” Rouse said.
In addition to Oklahoma residents, women from Florida, Colorado and Missouri participated in Saturday's shoot with friends from the Sooner State.
Rouse, who has been president of the OKC Gun Club for eight years, advertises the event on the OKC Gun Club's website in February, and the field is full by March.
“There is a desire to learn,” she said.
Lisa Hooker Young, 53, traveled from Morrison, Colo., to attend Saturday’s shoot at the invitation of her former college roommate, gun club member Galene Stupic of Arcadia. Young had fired a handgun before, but never a rifle or a shotgun before Saturday.
Her father was a hunter but didn’t think girls needed to learn to handle a gun when she was growing up.
“I had very little opportunities,” she said.
Young said Saturday was the first time she had been even near an AR-15, much less fire one.
“I thought it was really terrific,” Young said. “I thought it was a terrific opportunity to attend an event like that and not be the only new kid on the block.”
Now, Young has developed a trigger finger. When she returns to Colorado, she plans to go shopping for a gun.