The growing number of new target shooting enthusiasts is different from established shooters, according to a recent study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Those who have taken up target shooting in the last five years are younger and female — with females representing the fastest growing segment of the firearm industry by far. Also, they are city and suburban dwellers. Over a three-year period from 2009 to 2012, target shooting participation increased by 6.4 million. Firearms sales increased 88 percent over the last decade.
Two Tarrant County entrepreneurs are using their unique talents to take advantage of this flourishing industry.
Several years ago, Abby Walker earned her concealed carry permit and carried her gun in the zipper compartment of her Gucci handbag. One day, she lifted the gun out of her bag and discovered that her lipstick had gone through the trigger guard. “It scared me to death,” Walker says. “I knew I couldn’t safely carry in a bag that did not have a dedicated compartment to a handgun.”
Walker didn’t like the available products, so she designed her own. “The bags had to be safe, secure, readily accessible in a separate compartment, sourced from and manufactured in America, and, of course, be high quality and stylish,” she says.
Four years in the making, the result is the Aegis handbag. Walker’s bags are available in high quality leather and fabrics in four styles named after Greek goddesses: Athena, Diana, Artemis and Irene. Aegis handbags in a variety of colors cost about $300. They can be purchased locally at Leddy’s Ranch at Sundance, Fort Worth, Lone Star Guns Gallery & Gear, Weatherford and online at aegisbags.com.
Whitesboro auto dealer, Matt Johnson, is gearing up to open the Defender Outdoors Shooting Center, which is located at 2900 Shotts St., two miles west of downtown Fort Worth. It has a 41,000-square-foot indoor training facility and a 5,600-square-foot retail space. A temporary retail space is already open for business.
Defender Outdoors will provide a full-time gunsmith, private event space, and regularly scheduled training and firearm safety classes for all levels of shooters, Johnson says. Available for purchase are hunting licenses, pistols, rifles, shotguns, ammo, firearm customizations and more.
“Anytime you can get gun owners practicing, learning and experiencing what happens with their guns, that’s only going to lead to more safety,” Johnson says.
Tiffany Harris, director of Marketing & Client Experience, is also the resident firearms instructor, certified in Concealed Handgun Licenses and five NRA disciplines. Harris specializes in teaching the “empowered, fashionable, Texas gal” basic pistol education, range safety, concealed carry, home defense, and specific courses for college students and mothers.
Offering 34 shooting lanes with a Simunition House and 24-hour monitored security system, 28 lanes will be dedicated to pistol shooting. Six lanes will be for rifle shooting — the only civilian indoor rifle range at 85-yards long in Tarrant County.