More women taking advantage of firearms classes

The Port Clinton News-Herald is reporting on a mother-daughter partnership that offers all-female gun education courses, as well as National Rifle Association-certified concealed carry courses.

Joy and Faith Ferkel have instructed more than 75 men and women, who are now better prepared to defend themselves and their families. They say most of the female students have taken advantage of all-women classes.

From the story:

The Ferkels began offering the all-women classes last year as a way to provide a comfortable setting for women to learn how to shoot a gun and obtain a concealed carry permit.

"Women have different reasons for choosing a women-only class," Joy said. "Some feel intimidated by those they know have more firearm experience, some have personal protection issues that they believe other women understand, and some want the encouraging camaraderie of a ladies' sewing circle."

"It's easier to ask questions and easier to take the skills test (in an all-ladies class)," said Kim Kuieck, who took the class this spring. "It's easier to think about what you're doing, instead of what everybody's thinking about you."

"I went into it not knowing a thing," said Suzanne Black, who decided to obtain her permit after experiencing a break-in robbery. "I had never touched a handgun before. The class was very interesting, very informative and very comfortable, especially in a group of ladies. Had it been a mixed class, I don't think I would have been there."

"I love shooting," said Kathy VanWey, wife of former Fremont Assistant Chief of Police Dennis VanWey. "It's a lot of fun, and it was fun to (take the class) with all girls. Joy and Faith are so hospitable. They kept it very basic, and took us through the ropes very gently."

Just as the women had varying reasons for taking an all-ladies class, the story goes on to say they also had different reasons for obtaining a concealed handgun license in the first place.

"I felt like it was a civic duty," VanWey said. "I believe all citizens should be armed, not only to defend themselves, but to defend others. If citizens are well-trained and know how to use the firearm, it can only help them."

"I've been fascinated with shooting for a long time," Marilu Waleryszak said. "I had the time and decided to pursue it. I was very inexperienced and wanted to do it the right way."

Shelly Biddle said she decided to obtain her concealed carry permit because of President Obama's anti-gun stance. Many of the ladies readily agreed with her.

For others, it was fear of another kind that brought them to the class. Mel Wammes was robbed at gunpoint while working in a Fremont tavern last year.

"Everyone had left, except a friend and the captain of the dart league," she said. "A man came in demanding money. He had a mask on, he had his hood up, and he was wearing gloves."

That night, both she and her friend were physically assaulted. "That's when I decided, that's it. Never again will I get hit across the face."

Joy, herself, was attacked by an armed intruder while babysitting when she was 17. Before the man left, she had a broken nose and was covered in blood.

"I had a very supportive family," she said. "I always thought at that time that men take care of women and children. That's why it was such a shock to me."

Having been in the vulnerable situation of being beaten by someone much bigger than she, Joy told the News-Herald she realizes the necessity for women to have the knowledge and tools to defend themselves, and she also has greater sympathy for the women who come to her class because a past experience has made them afraid.

There are openings in the all-ladies and coed classes in August and September. For information, or to register for a class, call 419-547-6203.

For a county-by-county list of Ohio CCW classes and instructors, click here.

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