SHERIDAN — Just two years ago, Kathy Lundberg — the assistant women’s activities director for the Sheridan County Sportsmen’s Association — had never shot a gun. Now, she can’t get enough of them, and this year she used some tactful writing to earn an $8,000 grant from the National Rifle Association for a women’s shooting sports program.

“I knew the criteria and that (the NRA) wanted some educational component and that they wanted to grow the membership,” Lundberg said. “But what they really wanted, especially, was to support women shooting sports.”

Lundberg actually wrote two grants, and the one that got accepted totaled $8,000 that Lundberg used to purchase five shotguns, five rifles, two pistols, about four years worth of ammo, safety equipment and a safe.

The women’s shooting sports program will include two NRA women-on-target classes, an NRA rifle class, an NRA shotgun class and an NRA pistol class. But for Lundberg and Sherri Johnson — the women’s activity director for the Sheridan County Sportsmen’s Association — the objective runs deeper than just a few classes.

“We want to introduce women to recreational shooting, safe gun handling techniques and fundamentals of marksmanship,” Lundberg said. “We want them all to demonstrate what they learned in the classroom using our gun range. We also hope to increase women participating in shooting sports.”

The Sheridan County Sportsmen’s Club has existed for more than 100 years and for 35 years at its current location about five miles west of Sheridan. Dan Kucera — president of the Sheridan County Sportsmen’s Association — believes the women’s shooting sports program is a positive step for the club and he’s excited about what the future holds.

Kucera also understands the importance of getting more women involved.

“I believe it’s important because women find out that shooting is safe, it’s fun and it’s an exercise of their constitutional right,” Kucera said. “We need people to stand up and support our constitutional right. The (women’s shooting sports program) also gives the venue for those ladies, who may not have somebody to shoot with, to pair up with some other women that have like interests.”

The Sheridan County Sportsmen’s Association currently boasts close to 1,000 members and the women’s shooting sports program could increase those numbers in the coming years. Lundberg’s future goals include starting up a women’s pistol league that meets once a week through the winter. She’d also like to hold a ladies night where women could come together and focus on gun cleaning and pistol shooting, among other activities.

Overall, Lundberg would like to increase the number of women who understand and use guns responsibly for benefits that reach beyond just themselves.

“To me, when you involve women, you involve their families because they’re going to learn about home defense, personal protection, and they’re going to learn recreational shooting and competition shooting,” Lundberg said.

Just a few years back, Lundberg had never fired a gun. She and Johnson — who met at a Babes with Bullets program in Montana — had a vision and got the ball rolling, and it hasn’t stopped. Lundberg hopes to harness the recent momentum and write another grant next year to help grow the program.