Sales Surge as Annie Gets Her Gun

Tina Wilson-Cohen is calm, encouraging, and confident, especially when she's teaching kids how to fire guns.

Tony Hutchings | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

Today, the Josoeitz family came in for a lesson with her over their spring break.

"I think it's important to know how to use firearms for your own safety and to teach discipline," says Ken Josoeitz, standing with his kids Hannah and Ethan.

Most surprising to Ken, though, was that his wife Sindy would want to join.

"I said, 'Sure, I'll go with you,'" she says.

More and more of Wilson-Cohen's clients are women and families, and the surge in sales to this cohort suits her style just fine. She offers black and pink targets.

"Pink...has a calming, soothing effect. Gun ranges are intimidating, especially for women."

Nearly 47 percent more women are shooting today than a decade ago, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, and a Gallup poll last year found 23 percent of American women now own at least one gun. Several retailers hold "Ladies Nights," and enrollment in one women's only conceal-carry class at the Red Castle Gun Club in Tulsa, Okla., is up 400 percent, according to published reports.

"There's more safety awareness out there now for women, and there's also more firearm training available to women that hasn't been before," says Wilson-Cohen.

And the gun industry is responding to that.

"We see the pink and the purple grips on the guns and it's really there as a marketing tool to go ahead and draw more women in...they're not stupid, hence the pink targets," she adds.

Women are certainly juicing the numbers, but other factors are pushing sales higher. A record 16.4 million firearm background checks were conducted in the U.S. last year, up from 14.4 million in 2010. A weak economy and fear of President Obama pushing for gun control in a potential second term have weapons sales soaring.

"It's booming," says Jessica Goode, who sells guns at Sharp Shooters in Lorton, Va. "The weapons are flying off the shelves. We can't keep them in stock. It's the economy. People are feeling unsafe nowadays, they want protection."

That means big profit for gun makers like Smith and Wesson , Sturm, Ruger and hunting superstore Cabela's . Stocks of the companies are surging, and orders are off the charts, leading Sturm, Ruger to halt new orders, as they try to meet the demand.

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