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.

Comments (25)
  1. Mabel Hornschlinger says:

    I have a 9 mm in my knitting bag because of what happened to my neighbors! I will be 83 next year!

    1. Hillbilly Hub says:

      You go Grandma!

    2. Jimmy says:

      Your my sweetheart, God bless you.

  2. Crazy Joe says:

    Hey CCO and the rest of you uneducated ones. It is not conceal and carry, it is a carry permit. A permit permit allows you to open carry and you should take advantage of your second amendment rights. You can open carry anywhere you can carry in Minnesota. A right unused is a right refused.

  3. Doug says:

    It is a carry permit not a conceal and carry like cco says. I have a carry permit and I have never felt so secure in my life. I have not open carried yet but I think I will try soon. many business are taking down the ban guns sings.

      1. Doug says:

        You make no sense, sounds like you cant get a permit loser

    1. Duck says:

      Doug…You shouldn’t open carry because it takes away the element of surprise. If someone wants to rob you and sees your gun, they can just walk up behind you and knock your block off. Then they will get both your wallet and your gun, and you’ll feel less secure than ever. Don’t ever underestimate the element of surprise.

  4. Alicia says:

    I am a female firearms instructor teaching an NRA certified carry class in North Branch this Saturday for anyone who would be interested- I have a few more spots open so feel free to email me for more info!

  5. Scott Funk says:

    Why would there be competition while learning how to shoot if genders are mixed? As a guy, I personally wouldn’t care one way or another.

    I dunno. I don’t like the idea of lots more people carrying guns of either gender. It’s too easy to kill randomly with handguns, since they by definition aren’t all that easy to aim, unlike a longarm.

    1. Alicia says:

      You would be surprised what *some* male ego’s can do to stunt a woman’s desire to learn! Most men are wonderful and love to help a woman empower herself by learning about guns and shooting them, but women are easily made uncomfortable, and tend not to ask as many questions when men are present. If you are well trained (as you should be if you’re carrying a gun every day- you owe it to yourself, your family, and your community) they are very effective tools for self defense. Right To Carry states have lower violent crime rates, on average, compared to the rest of the country (total violent crime by 24%; murder, 28%; robbery, 50%; and aggravated assault, 11%). Firearms are used defensively roughly 2.5 million times per year, more than four times as many as criminal uses. This amounts to 2,575 lives protected for every life lost to a gun (Targeting Guns- Firearms and Their Control, Gary Kleck, Professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University). As a woman, being mentally and physically prepared to defend yourself against a violent attacker and refusing to be a victim is very empowering! Carrying a gun isn’t for everyone, but I encourage everyone to consider it- especially women!

  6. Hey Alicia says:

    You are the woman of my dreams! Will you marry me? If not, do you have a sister?
    I’ll meet your father! He must be very proud to have a raised a daughter who is no nonsense like you.

  7. Mary says:

    Woman have the unique advantage in that they can put the gun in their purse.

    1. Best rethink your genius belief says:

      Unique advantage? That gun ain’t gonna’ do squat for you in your purse, sweetheart.

  8. Hey Jamie says:

    I’m sorry, but the video of practice time is a JOKE!!! Yeah, play shoot with those plastic guns, girls. Wait ’till you shoot a real gun of .40 cal or larger and get shell-shocked. And BTW, walking around with a gun drawn, looking for your next target is simply not going to happen, unless you want to see some jail time yourself.

    Really, that whole program appears to be a TOTAL JOKE!!! Save your money girls, and go and take a REAL course, where live ammo is used, and REAL scenarios are played out. The only thing you’re gonna’ learn here is how to get yourself knocked out and have that gun used against yourselves.

    Sad state of affairs with all these wanna-be training courses lapping up all your cash, and really not giving you anything in return, except a warm fuzzy feeling. See how that warm-fuzzy does you when Jasper Washington and his thug buds knock your lights out and have their fun time with you…

    1. Crazy Joe says:

      The simulator looks fun and I agree with you. Live ammo at different distances with the gun that you plan to carry is the best. I believe some ranges have outdoor moving targets, that will hone your skills trying to hit a fast moving object with a handgun.

    2. Goober says:

      First off, a 40 cal or larger isn’t necessary. For self defense a .380 or 9MM works just as well, you may just need to fire an extra shot or two.
      Second, don’t scoff at the virtual training courses. They are an excellent training aid and onc can always go to a range for live fire.

  9. Bob says:

    It’s nice to see people taking personal responsibility for their safety. Now if we can get the Stand Your Ground law passed by our governor.

    1. Dave says:

      Yea, bob Its funny how-fast they can get laws moved forward to let attorneys in criminal-cases have guns (Duluth courthouse shooting)
      BUT when it comes to allowing the average citizen the right to shoot an intruder in their house,somehow they can bicker and beatch about it for a whole year !!

  10. Spanky says:

    I am all for it. Woman who pack are hot!

  11. Dave says:

    BTW ,, who taught that report to hold a gun ??
    No fingy on the triggy till sights are on target !!

  12. Dave says:

    BTW ,, who taught that reporert to hold a gun ??
    No fingy on the triggy till sights are on target !!

  13. jackactionzero says:

    I’d like to help out Jamie with her stance
    her grip
    her …
    cute gal …. sharp too

  14. It’s great to see women taking up shooting sports and self defense.

  15. Sara In the MPLS. says:

    Just finiished up my regular class, my boyfriend and I took it together. Can’t wait to get my license! Take a class you are comfortable with, get educated and get yours. The day we went to the sheriff’s office they had taken in 20 applications by 1pm. WATCH OUT DUMB CRIMINALS in Hennepin County, we are HERE!