Lauren Brown / For the Lantern
Twenty Ohio State students lined up in the basement of Converse Hall before a storm of .22 caliber bullets erupted around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
This commotion wasn’t the result of a violent attack or a military training exercise. For Janet Josten, a third-year in animal sciences, this was another meeting of the OSU Pistol Club.
According to americanfirearms.org, at least 120 million Americans own a firearm. Josten is one of the estimated 15 million to 20 million female gun owners in the United States.
Josten was introduced to guns as a member of Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew 698, and she continued to develop her shooting skills as a member of her high school rifle team.
“Just because it’s explosions doesn’t mean it’s not something that girls can do,” Josten said.
As vice president of the OSU Pistol Club, Josten spends her time sharing her passion with a diverse group of OSU students, all with different skill levels.
“I do wish that more people were comfortable around (guns),” Josten said.
Sierra Bray, a second-year in international studies, is secretary of the OSU Pistol Club. Bray was introduced to guns in 2009 during her time in basic training for the U.S. Army Reserves.
“It’s nice being able to control something that is dangerous,” Bray said.
At the age of 18, it is legal to purchase a rifle, which is a longer firearm designed to shoot from the shoulder. It is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to purchase or own a pistol, which is a handgun that can be semi-automatic.
The Army focuses on rifle shooting, so Bray joined the OSU Pistol Club in order to improve her pistol capabilities.
Bray said without the opportunities provided by the OSU Pistol Club, she doesn’t think she would be able to practice shooting outside of the Army.
Not all women are drawn to guns for self-defense purposes. Some women inherit their love of firearms from family members.
Jackie Stotlar, a first-year graduate student in the department of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, received her first .22 caliber long rifle when she was six years old.
Stotlar said she practiced shooting games, and three years ago, she began to go to the shooting range with her father. She said it’s unusual for daughters to accompany their fathers to the shooting range.
“I was the only woman, and the only … young person,” Stotlar said.
Stotlar said there was some tension between her and the older, male club members whose jokes and political opinions sometimes made her uncomfortable.
“Once I was able to feel comfortable … I was able to stand up for myself,” Stotlar said. “They’re usually really respectful about it.”
Stotlar said she experiences the emotional highs and lows that come with any other sporting activity.
“The first time you shoot it and you hit the target, it’s just a good moment,” Stotlar said. “(It’s) like any time you do any sport right for the first time.”
Josten agreed. She said she enjoys practicing the focus and accuracy needed for target shooting.
“I only do target shooting,” Josten said. “It helps relax me, helps block out things I’ve been … stressed about.”
Bray said she likes the statistic of about 15 million women owning guns.
“There’s a lot of people that still think only men should handle guns,” Bray said. “I feel proud when I see a woman at the range.”
Bray said guns can be valuable for self-defense, but she also said that everyone shouldn’t own a gun.
Stotlar and Bray both said they interact with people who disagree with their passion for guns.
There tends to be a split along the lines of gun control, and a lot of the fear around firearms is based around myths and stereotypes, Stotlar said.
“People are okay with women having guns,” Stotlar said. “People aren’t okay with people having guns.”
Bray said people who aren’t afraid of guns usually think her hobby is interesting.
“Some people don’t like football,” Bray said. “Some people don’t like guns.”
In a previous version of this story, The Lantern reported that the pistol club fired a round of 22 mm bullets. In fact, they fired a round of .22 caliber bullets.