Since March, many industries have come to a stuttering halt or had to adjust their operations quickly to remain afloat amid COVID-19. However, the weapons industry, particularly gun ownership among both women and men, has seen a huge spike amid the pandemic and nationwide protests.
An estimated 46.3 percent of adults own guns in Arizona in 2020. Women gun ownership accounts for more than 20 percent of gun owners nationwide. In 2019, about 5.8 million background checks were done for overall gun purchases and is up 69 percent—to 9.8 million in 2020 so far.
C2 Tactical in Tempe offers its Women of Steel shooting club, which provides firearm education, safety, and training for women in small classes. The Women of Steel club has courses that cover an introduction to handguns that include types of handguns and ammunition, handling, safe loading and unloading procedures, and live-fire exercises; fundamental shooting skills and a defensive course that focuses on shooter movement, target engagement, transitional shooting, and pressure drills and skills.
Vince Vasquez, C2 Tactical Managing Partner, said C2 began offering women’s classes years ago as a way to help the average person learn about firearm safety.
“Women of Steel is technically called a women’s firearm shooting club, but inside Women of Steel, we like to call it a self-defense club because we talk about more than just firearms” said Heather Glaser, C2 Tactical Women of Steel instructor.
“We do classes from the beginning stages of learning about firearms to how to use certain tools to defend yourself like Tasers. We also get into classes on situational awareness, pistols, firearms, rifle and shotgun. So we expand on a lot of different stuff to help give the ladies a well-rounded experience of different options that are out there.”
Glaser started getting into shooting about 10 years ago before she came to C2 Tactical to take classes and became a certified instructor at C2. “I had a conversation with the woman who was managing the Women of Steel program at the time and she was looking for volunteers to help out with the program,” Glaser said.
“The Women of Steel program is what pulled me completely into the firearm industry because I started seeing all these women grow and change and become empowered. I did a lot of range safety training, took more classes and worked with our director of training to become an instructor and started running the program about three years ago.”
A survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that gun stores nationwide has seen a notable increase in business from first-time buyers in the first four months of 2020. Of the first-time buyers, more than 40 percent were women; and about 23 percent of women in the U.S. now own guns, according to the NRA, up 13 percent in 2005.
Vasquez said it’s important to C2 Tactical to offer specialized programs for women because he wants to help people learn how to be safe with a firearm and provide a sense of empowerment for women with their classes, training and instructors.
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of different things, but I think what it comes down to, for women especially, is that they have an environment where they feel safe to ask questions around other women without feeling like they’re going to be criticized or not able to get a direct answer,” Glaser said of Women of Steel.
“We want people to understand (after learning and taking classes at C2) that, ‘I have this tool and if it means I can save my family or my life, then I’ve learned how to safely and effectively use it,’” Vasquez said. “Firearms are in our lives, just like swimming or riding a bike, you may not do it all the time, but it’s good to know,” Vasquez said. “For example, if a gun is in your home on the floor or on the counter, how do you properly pick it up and safely handle it? So I think it’s really important that we take the time to learn about those essential functions of a weapon and a great opportunity to do that is at C2 Tactical.”
C2 hopes that women who take their classes learn not just how to effectively and safely use a gun, but feel empowered, safe and capable of protecting themselves after gaining firearm knowledge and skills.
Vasquez said the most rewarding part about C2 Tactical is that they help people through discussing the best products for each customer and offering classes that cover many topics with high instructor-student interaction.
“I would the say the most amazing part of being an instructor is seeing them grow from the women that walked in the door the first time looking at their feet and unsure,” Glaser said, “then flash forward a year or two years later and when they walk through the doors their head is held high and they have a sense of empowerment to them; they feel safe and comfortable and that they can take care of themselves and take on their own personal responsibility to make sure they’re safe.”
C2 Tactical’s Women of Steel program is offered in Tempe and will be offered at the Scottsdale location in October 2020. To learn more about C2 Tactical and the Women of Steel program, visit: C2Tactical.com.