BERLIN, Conn. (WTNH) — Since 2012, the number of people applying for pistol permits in Connecticut has been on the rise. E. Jonathan Hardy, owner of CT Gun Safety, has been teaching the NRA Basic Pistol Safety Course for five years. When he first started, he says there were about 184,000 people with licenses to carry in Connecticut. Now, there are about 250,000.

“I think there’s a big shift towards wanting to be able to protect yourself and defend yourself,” said Hardy.

Hardy says not only are the numbers on the rise, so is the ratio of women to men in the classes.

“It used to be about 20 percent women in my classes. For the last year and a half, maybe two years, it’s been closer to 60, 65 percent,” said Hardy.

Elizabeth Koegler is one of his students. She took the course two months ago and just received her permit on Tuesday.

“I really just wanted to do it for safety of my family and to know that if anything happens I’ll be able to protect my daughter and myself,” said Koegler.

Hardy says Koegler, like many of his female students, was a fast learner.

“If you watch women shooting, and you watch the guys, better form, better posture, better grip. It’s awesome,” said Hardy.

Holly Sanady has been licensed to carry for the past 12 years.

“I’m a working professional. I’m a mom. I don’t think that a lot of people expect that a lot of moms are carrying,” said Sanady.

She’s also an NRA instructor and her advice to other women is to keep practicing.

“I think it’s absolutely empowering that as long as they are competent, that they train, and that they practice. It’s not something that you just do once in a while. It’s something that takes diligence,” said Sanady.

Sanady says shooting can also be about fun. She regularly participates in girls’ night out shooting events and competitions.

“It’s a great time, but you’re also around like minded moms and they’re some of the greatest people that you’ll ever meet because we’re just a community,” she said.