"If I don't get ya, my wife will."
These were the words that separated North Las Vegan Ricki Henry and her husband from an event that could have changed their lives forever.
Some years ago, the couple were camping in a remote part of Arizona when unwanted visitors showed up , Henry recalls.
"You could quickly discern it wasn't friendly," Henry said of the visit.
All her husband had to do was show he was armed and flex some confidence, and the would-be bad guys fled.
"I'm sure we prevented something," Henry said.
That episode led Henry to take aim at gun and rifle education and help foster sportsmanship among her fellow Southern Nevada women.
In September, Henry founded the Women of High Caliber, a monthly social group for women to learn about or improve shooting firearms. The group meets at 6 p.m. the last Thursday of the month at the Clark County Shooting Range , 11357 N. Decatur Blvd . Each meeting includes a social and educational hour, followed by target shooting at the rifle and pistol range.
January's meeting included dinner and a purse party, except the handbags were custom-made for concealed weapons. Past months have included guest speakers discussing gun safety, rules and self-defense.
The January meeting was the first since a hotbed news item involving women, self-defense and gun rights made headlines.
In December, an 18-year-old Oklahoman widow and mother shot and killed an intruder after spending an alleged 21 minutes asking permission of a 911 dispatcher.
The shooting was ruled justified by Oklahoma's district attorney .
Paradise resident Lauren Ivester said news reports closer to home spurred her to become a better markswoman with her firearm.
"With rising crime in Las Vegas, it's important to get better at protecting yourself," she said. "It's doesn't matter how nice the area is."
Ivester, who attended January's meeting and squared off her stance in glittery Ugg boots, said the education and support from her fellow women keep her returning to the events.
Thus, Henry's goal.
"(Finding) that comfort level of getting into a sport that is male-dominated can be a challenge," she said. "This affords that safe environment."
The Clark County Shooting Range sponsors the club. Range officials assist participants and see that safety regulations are met. Beginners or novices are encouraged to attend and can rent a firearm and purchase ammunition, targets and mandatory eye and ear protection at the range.
About 50 women attend each meeting, and Henry said many novices approach her before shooting practice wary of what's ahead.
"If you don't have some level of fear, you're not being realistic," Henry said.
No matter the experience level, Henry said one tenet is heavily stressed.
"You have to have a healthy respect for the tool," she said.
Elaine Graitge attended the January Women of High Caliber meeting with friends Tina Buswell and Candi Skehan as "moms night out."
"It's something else for us to do," Graitge said.
Graitge and Skehan said their husbands shared an interest in firearms, and it wore off on the pair.
"I probably wouldn't come out and practice shooting if it wasn't for this group," Graitge said.
Skehan said the camaraderie inspires her.
"It's encouraging to see other women have fun but who are ready to defend themselves," she said.
The group is free and open to all Southern Nevada women. Participants must be 18 or older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Ivester was lighthearted about the group's appeal.
"It's a girl thing," she said.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit facebook.com/ women of high caliber or call 455-2000.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at email@example.com or 477-3839.