“Women are different than men. We’re not better, we’re not worse, we’re just different.” That understanding is what led Carrie Lightfoot to a new career. When she decided to buy a gun for self-defense, she started looking for information and resources – and found them both sadly lacking.
Equipment was geared towards the male physique and information was based on how men learn best.Being an entrepreneur, Lightfoot realized there was a need for a business that could provide what women want.
So in February of 2012, Lightfoot started “The Well Armed Woman,” a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. She quickly knew she had hit on a great idea. The response from women, as well as men, has been extremely positive. Lightfoot began by offering products that women want, such as lightweight holsters and concealed carry purses. She has produced instructional videos covering topics from choosing a holster to how to talk to legislators. She says that women are thrilled that the industry finally “saw” and they are expecting more choices and expecting better equipment.
The Well-Armed Woman chapters were not part of her original plan, but she realized that women need a place to learn where they feel comfortable. When Lightfoot first posted the question on Facebook asking if there was interest in starting women’s shooting groups, she immediately received over 350 responses. “Women learn differently so they need a different environment. We need to talk in order to process things and that can drive men crazy in a classroom situation,” Lightfoot laughs. She says women are uneasy when they don’t know about the equipment and the shooting environment. They simply need to relax and gain confidence.
There are now 357 Well Armed Woman chapters in 49 states with over 10,000 members. Lightfoot loves traveling to chapter meetings and talking to women, hearing their stories of how their lives have changed. When asked what she has accomplished that makes her the most proud, Lightfoot become very quiet. Finally, she responds that it is the fact that she is changing lives. She doesn’t take this lightly, commenting, “It’s also a heavy responsibility to know women are listening to you.” So she works hard at making sure all information she provides is very accurate.
Lightfoot says that women are becoming more comfortable with the role of self-protector. They are realizing they are responsible for their own safety, and understand the reality that someone else can’t always be around to protect them or their families. While legal topics aren’t covered during the chapter classes, Lightfoot is excited that women are getting more concerned about gun rights, speaking out and getting involved. “They are gaining confidence, talking to other women, and really coming out of the shadows.” She’s excited by what it all means. “It means that women are starting to be more engaged in politics and they are the person getting the whole family out and learning about shooting. Women are the ones changing the next generation.”
Images courtesy of The Well Armed Woman