Some new statistics show that the number of women who shoot and carry in Florida is growing significantly. Currently, almost one out of four of the state’s 1.49 million residents with concealed carry permits are women, according to this story from Florida Weekly.

The story quoted gun shop owners and instructors from around the state who confirmed this upswing, saying that they offer ladies’ nights with reduced costs or special classes for women.

“We specialize in women’s programs, and I can empathize with a lot of my students and customers,” said Annabel Bleicher, owner of the Naples Gun Range and Emporium, which is owned by women and staffed by female shooting instructors and hosts the local chapter of A Girl and a Gun. “I had no clue about guns and fell upon the right instructors and training programs when I started years ago.”

Bleicher said the number of women coming into her shop has been up over the past two years.

“They’re coming in because they’re scared—with all the things going. I see married women whose husbands travel a lot, and a lot of real estate agents,” Bleicher said in the story. “So the women’s market has really spiked, especially older women who live by themselves and decide to become proficient with a firearm. I have two 83-year-olds, an 80-year-old, and maybe 10 to 12 students in their 60s and 10 more in their 50s.”

From the story: “In fact, middle-aged or older people constitute the most sizable market share of shooters getting permitted, according to statistics maintained by the Licensing Division of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“The largest group of concealed weapons permit holders falls between 51 and 65 years of age, followed closely by 66 and older shooters. Together those age groups represent almost 650,000 men and more than 190,000 women, about 29 percent of the total for Floridians in their 50s or older.”

The main reason these shooters give for owning and/or carrying a firearm is for protection, plain and simple.

“I got my gun because my ex husband attacked me,” said Madeline Edenfield in the story. “He got away with it, continued to stalk and harass me for years on end. The cops weren’t going to be able to save me, so I had to be prepared to save myself.”

“The older women, my students, are independent, they live by themselves, and they are physically able to do this,” Bleicher said. “They have things going on, but it doesn’t hold them back.”

For the full story from Florida Weekly, go here.