Ladies, grab your guns.
Pocono Pistol Club in Stroudsburg wants to help local women become comfortable with a firearm by offering an all-women shooting class for beginners.
"There is an increase in people learning how to use a gun because of the increase in area crime," said Norm Lattig, the range master.
The pistol club opened in mid-April and has been booming since. With no other program like this in the area, women are now able to try their hand at a new hobby or means of self-defense by learning how to properly handle a gun in a comfortable environment.
"Quite a few women are coming in lately. We feel that there is a need for ladies that want to possibly own their own firearm for protection," said club owner Jere Dunkelberger.
Dunkelberger's daughter, Tricia Dunkelberger Fritz, added, "Women shoot and women want to protect themselves. I think that the women in our area want to be comfortable with a firearm."
The first ladies-only shooting class was held last Tuesday night and the class sold out fairly quickly. Eight students showed up for the inaugural class and many looked apprehensive but determined.
"I am a little nervous about this. I have never touched a gun before," said Mary Anne Constable of Stroudsburg.
Instructor Harley Lattig told the students, "This is no different than golf or tennis. The golf clubs or tennis rackets don't do anything unless you do it. The gun won't go bang unless you do it." Lattig has been shooting since age 9 and enjoys teaching new gun users.
The two-hour session is first held in a classroom where a formal introduction to the gun and ammunition is done. "Safety is paramount," Norm explained.
Instructor Luann Larussa added, "Get the safety rules in your head."
Once safety was discussed and questions answered, it was time to head to the range to try out a gun. There is an instructor for each group of two so no one is left alone with a pistol — a situation that made students feel more at ease.
"I wanted to learn how to use a gun properly and I thought that this would be fun and the safest way to do it. I saw the ad in the paper for the class and my husband thought it was a great idea," said Joan Stimson of Stroudsburg.
Classmate Sue Ardito of Stroudsburg added, "I am here to learn how to shoot a gun because my brother gave me one as a gift. Ironically, the day after I got the gun, I saw the ad in the paper for the class."
Larussa assisted Ardito in her first round of shots. "It was a little shocking, but easier than what I expected," Ardito said.
Range master Norm Lattig is a retired police officer. "I failed retirement," he said with a chuckle. "I taught at the police academy and I ran instructor courses. This becomes a part of your life. I enjoy teaching people the correct way to handle a gun."
After a few rounds fired by each person, the anxiety level in the room dropped significantly.
Easton resident Amy Boccadoro attended the class wanting to become comfortable with guns.
"I have never fired a gun before. They kind of scare me," she said. "I feel like if I knew how to do it, I wouldn't be so scared."
The class eased her fear and she now plans to go shooting again.
"Guns are no different than anything else. Education is the key," Norm Lattig said.
The students left with shot-out targets, feeling satisfied and more at ease with firearms. All of them said they plan to revisit the shooting range and practice their new skills.
Classes are being scheduled for two to three Tuesday nights each month. Every Tuesday, ladies get a 20 percent discount on range time. Pocono Pistol Club is located at 85 N. First St. in Stroudsburg. For more information, call (570) 424-2940.
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Ladies, grab your guns.