Women look to arm themselves for safety

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NAPLES, Fla. – Local ladies packed a women’s only gun course at the Alamo in Naples recently.

The one-hour course, led by Shirley Watral with the ALTAIR Gun Club, gave a general overview of firearms and gun safety. Watral said while this started as a man’s sport, more women are interested in it and she wanted to offer a class that wasn’t intimidating for women.

Watral started to learn more about guns after she says she was attacked by a now ex-boyfriend.

“They [women] need to understand that an event like that can either determine who they’re going to become or they can take that event and make that a stepping stone to the person they want to be. For me, it took me a long time to figure that out and the turning point for me was four years ago when I started shooting.”

Watral said she was held hostage in her attacker’s home for eight to 10 hours and physically and emotionally abused. At one point, she said her attacker brought out a gun and she thought that was the end.

“I thought this is the end, I’m going to go out fighting because I’ve already been fighting this whole period, whole time. And I did not know at the time, and I might have known if I had a little more experience with firearms, that it wasn’t loaded. So I went for it thinking that if I got a shot off the neighbors would hear.”

But the gun wasn’t loaded, and Watral said after that her attacker beat her even more. While it was obviously hard for her to share that story, she did so because she knows other women have had similar situations. In fact, during the class Watral asked every woman to answer yes or no to a single question: Have you ever been physically abused?

“10 out of 16 women here have been physically abused at some point in their life, still over half…I want you to know that I’ve been there. I know what you’re going through,” she said while holding back tears.

WINK News talked to several women at the class, all who said they were there because they worry about their safety.

“The world unfortunately isn’t a pretty place anymore,” said Stephanie O’Malley, who already owns a gun but liked the idea of taking a ladies only class. “I think it’s a great opportunity for women to come out because it’s not going to be so intimidating.”

Tracey Young who does not have a gun right now but plans on buying one echoed a similar thought.

“I am a realtor in Naples and you hear about, it gives me chills just thinking about it, but you take a lot of people that you don’t know and you take them out into vacant houses. It’s just something to think about, better safe than sorry,” Young said.

Saturday, June 4, ALTAIR Gun Club is hosting a Women’s Pistol 1 course in Copeland, FL. It will teach women basic handgun skills and how to select your own weapon. The Alamo also hosts Ladies Night on Mondays, where you can get free range time from 4 p.m. until close.

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