MIAMI (CBS4) – Ladies night used to entail a trip to a favorite restaurant or bar. But recently, ladies night is becoming more and more popular at local gun ranges, including the Florida Gun Center in Hialeah.

Firearms instructor Ike Mont-Ros said he’s seen a drastic jump in the number of women taking his class. When he started six years ago; there was one woman for every six students. Today, he said women make up half or more of his classes.

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“Women are being more aware of the need for self defense,” said Mont-Ros.

It’s a need that drives Kathy Shabathai to carry a revolver and practice her aim.

“It’s as much sport as it is for personal protection,” said Shabathai. “We live in a big city. I’m a mother. I’m a grandmother. I feel competent to protect myself in an emergency.”

Shabathai is a realtor and often finds herself alone with strangers in strange places.

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“Some of my colleagues have been attacked unfortunately,” she said. “Occasionally I do take my weapon, if I’m in parts of town that are strange to me and if I think I’m gonna be late at night…its comfortable to have it.”

More than 170,000 women in Florida, or roughly 20 percent of the permit holders, have a concealed weapons license, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.

“Women need to stop playing the victim or being the victim and arm themselves with a gun and defend themselves,” said Regis Giles, the owner of the website girlsjustwannahaveguns.com.

Giles said women of all ages log onto her site. “It has increased ever since I started the website from hundreds to thousands now.”

It is a trend that gun manufacturers have also recognized, creating guns that are more appealing to women.

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“Not only in size, also in adding a little color to it to look a little more eye appealing,” said Mont-Ros. “Definitely, I think they’re paying a lot of attention to females today.”