Gals with Guns: Packing heat... and it's not all pink!

BOISE - You might think owning or carrying a gun is mostly a guy thing.

But the truth is, more women are choosing to pack heat.

Personal safety is a driving motivation.

But in Idaho, it's certainly not the only reason it's triggering popularity.

Lisa Desilet will be the first to admit she's a beginner when it comes to guns.

For years, she wouldn't even touch them.

"I was really adamant that I don't like guns, I don't want to be around them - big mistake marrying a hunter!" she said.

Twelve years into marriage and Lisa now has a new hobby in an arena with a substantial gender gap.

Men are three times as likely as women to own a gun.

"As with most things that tend to be male-dominated, it can be intimidating for women just to think about the idea of picking something like that up," she said.

But she has, and KBOI-TV recently caught up with her at Impact Guns in Boise.

She's already seeing reward even as a novice.

"You know, you have a very real sense of accomplishment and it's instantaneous," she said. "Did I hit the target, did I not? How close was I? What can I work on?"

Desilet's not alone in her passion for shooting.

The National Sporting Goods Association says the number of women trying sport shooting has increased 51 percent in the last decade to more than 5 million women.

When it comes to hunting, it's up 41 percent.

What's further driving female gun ownership: the National Rifle Association is conduction more training sessions aimed directly at women.

Its "Women on Target" program, which started in 2000 with 500 participants, had 9,500 women by 2011.

The "Babes with Bullets" program, started in 2004 in Louisiana, is now a multi-state handgun camp with 1800 female alumni, spanning ages 16 to 78 from a dozen countries.

"A big statement that I remind myself of is that if it doesn't challenge you, it's not going to change you," Desilet said.

For Desilet, having a good shot comes with three purposes.

Target shooting offers its challenges.

But that's not all.

"There's something empowering to know that if my husband's not around and there's something terrible that was to happen to us in our home, to know that I have the abilities and the strength to be able to protect my children," she said.

And finally, her third reason has to do with her hunter-husband.

"This year my ambition is to eventually get my hunting license so that I could actually go out and hunt with him," she said.

That's why she chose the buck target at Boise's Impact Guns.

"That's the heart and the lungs right there. That's what we want!" she said.

Safety Manager Cindy Pratt Carrell keeps a close eye on Desilet's progress.

"Your goal is to cover all of your shots with one hand," Pratt Carroll said. "But that's a goal, so you gotta have something to work towards."

"Yeah, I can't be perfect straight out of the gate!" Desilet said.

Perfect or not, Desilet's on target to keep up with the boys.

Just don't make any assumptions about the girl-power thing.

"I tend to take the opposite approach," she said. "Yes, I'm a girl, but I don't want it to be flashing lights on a girl, especially if you're going for the intention of hunting. I mean, how obvious is a pink gun out in the forest, really?" Desilet said.

Studies show that 15 percent of women in the U.S. own guns.

That's up from six years ago, when the same Gallup Poll showed it 12 percent.