Reporting Jamie Yuccas
LAKEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) – Thousands of Minnesotans carry guns. The latest numbers show 20,000 people applied for permits to carry last year. A big number of those who carry are women.
The female trend is growing so fast, demand in classes is up and the way instructors teach is changing.
“I’m already aware of my surroundings at work,” said Sara Vickerman, who is taking the ladies-only conceal and carry course at Gander Mountain’s academy in Lakeville. “We’ve been robbed so many times at our credit union, you need to be aware of what’s going on.”
Vickerman is not alone.
“We teach classes multiple times a week, and our ladies-only classes are on the rise,” said instructor Justin Johnson. “In a class of men and women, there’s a lot of ego. In a ladies-only class it takes a lot of that away and allows the ladies to relax and to learn at their own pace.”
What makes this class different is putting the women in real scenarios in a virtual environment.
“I think that will help take the edge off a little before the testing,” said Vickerman.
“You’re still working on your stance, your grip, your trigger control in a more relaxed environment,” said Johnson.
It’s easy to get fooled into believing you’re using a real gun. But after mastering the range, Johnson takes his teaching a step further — into a 360-degree virtual room, which also feels very real for Vickerman.
“A little intense. Your heart gets pumping, but it’s good adrenaline,” said Vickerman.
At first, it’s difficult to take it seriously, as it’s a little like looking at a video game. But as the videos turn into real-life situations inside a parking ramp, you’re then forced to interact, sometimes with sweaty palms and a racing heart.
“That scenario creates tunnel vision,” said Johnson.
Though some will find it necessary to undergo more training before feeling completely comfortable carrying a gun, Vickerman passed her conceal and carry tests.
“Everybody should be comfortable with a gun. Everyone should be able to shoot a gun,” said Vickerman.
There are dozens of businesses across the state that are certified by the state to teach conceal and carry classes, with a number now offering women’s only classes.